William Greider wrote one of my favorite economics-related books, Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country. I've never heard him speak before, so when I saw him on Bill Moyers' PBS show, I eagerly watched. Mr. Greider also has a blog:
Here is his most salient post on our current economic mess:
Mr. Greider isn't a charismatic speaker, so hearing him speak was a bit anti-climatic; however, I will look forward to more of his writing. Mr. Greider made it clear the problem cannot be blamed on any one party, and the absence of financial regulation has long been the province of both parties since 1980. He indicated that a Democratic Congress did away with usury laws, thereby paving the way for the current Wild West of Wall Street.
His most interesting point was this: usury laws have been around since the beginning of religion and were designed on the common sense notion that moneylenders have more power than the poor and must be regulated to avoid enslaving the poor through one-sided terms. He believes the current subprime mess is a modern-day form of usury.
Full transcript is below, courtesy of PBS:
Another blogger had an interesting take on usury from Adam Smith's perspective: