President Obama wrote an Op-Ed piece that was published today in papers around the world.  Here’s a link to the whole piece:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-oped0324obamamar24,0,103411.story

The Op-Ed fails to mention that the goals of trade should be to achieve more important ends – trade should not be an end in itself.  If we don’t sort this out, we will continue in our boom and bust ways.  The lending policies to developing nations need to focus on projects and metrics that improve the sustainable development and improved quality of life for all the population.  The one-size-fits-all “develop through trade” approach of the past hasn’t worked, and now is the time to adapt and change, to be sure we’re getting sustainable and equitable growth in the well-being of all people and of our Earth.
We need to ask questions:

“What is being traded? For whose benefit? At whose expense? What are the full costs to workers, local communities, nature? When those questions are answered, some trade looks lovable, and some we would be better off without.”

(Donella Meadows, “The Battle in Seattle”, 11/29/1999)

While these questions were initially applied to trade, they could also be applied to the behavior of various financial players and instruments.  Interesting to wonder what might be different in the global financial crisis if regulators and auditors had been asking these questions, making the answers public and broadly reported.  It might be that we would have avoided driving off the cliff we did, and the subsequent expensive rescue operation we’re in now.

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