I was privileged to be copied on an email exchange between Anat Admati and someone who had worked hard to make the financial system more stable, but had gotten discouraged by the politics one runs into in such an effort. I loved Anat’s words of encouragement, which I think are apt for anyone who is trying to make a difference for greater financial stability in the real world. Anat kindly gave me permission to reprint a passage from that message here, after some very light editing:
…“policy makers’ indifference to reality” resonates. I had no idea just how bad it can be. First I was shocked at confusions and misunderstanding. Naively I thought that is mostly what it is, never mind why, if folks don’t understand, maybe they can’t be blamed. Then you come across the political issues and the capture and the picture becomes much uglier. I read a book recently and met the author called “Willful Blindness” – http://www.amazon.com/Willful-Blindness-Ignore-Obvious-Peril/dp/0802777961 – part of the evidence is from experiments. It becomes about what people WANT to know, and then of course they have to be ABLE to do something about it, and they also have, again, to WANT to do something. By the time you get to actually doing something, well, the numbers are very few and far between.
So I may have stirred the pot, but serious progress, maybe a little bit, reluctantly, hard to tell… it depends on expectations..
Anyway, I can understand the bruised feelings. In my case, especially since I am up against a lot of money, I also get bruised a lot and it’s hard to take. It’s easy to give up, but I get annoyed about the wrong side winning so I dust myself off and think of something else to do. Fortunately, I/we do have paying jobs and I feel by now that under the circumstances, it is virtually our duty to lobby on behalf of the public. The political economy of money and influence ends up messing up democracies, see Olsen etc…