Insights on Fanny & Freddie

This post interests me on several levels: the connected nature of media today; contemporary economic issues, specifically the difficulties being faced by Fanny Mae & Freddie Mac due to the mortgage market meltdown; and the issue of the market system & the social good.

I subscribe via rss to a number of news feeds, including the editorials of the Wall Street Journal. Due to the magic of my feed reader, each morning, with very little effort I can get up to date on the news of the last 24 hours from a variety of perspectives. This is very useful for a teacher of the social sciences. This morning I discovered an article in the Notable & Quotable column of the Journal, which gives a brief snippet of something clever. The article today turned out to be a blog post by Lawrence Summers, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, and former President of Harvard University. The post was one of the clearest and most thoughtful interpretations I have seen of the current problems of Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, the government sponsored mortgage market players. After reading the post, I followed it back to the source, and discovered another nugget: a new blog called Creative Capitalism: A Conversation, which describes itself as:

a web experiment designed to produce a book — a collection of essays and commentary on capitalism, philanthropy and global development — to be edited by us and published by Simon and Schuster in the fall of 2008. The book takes as its starting point a speech Bill Gates delivered this January at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In it, he said that many of the world’s problems are too big for philanthropy–even on the scale of the Gates Foundation. And he said that the free-market capitalist system itself would have to solve them.

This is the public blog of a private website where a group of invited economists have spent the past couple of weeks criticizing and debating those claims.

How cool is this? One might even call this a form of scholarly activity. 😉

The premise of Gates’ speech was that the power of the market system can and should be applied to solving the substantive problems associated with economic development, from educating women to erradicating disease to developing effective financial systems. Can the market system, which is predicated on personal gain, be effectively used for the social good? Check out this blog to find out.

This entry was posted in Blogging as a Teaching and Research Tool, Economics, What is Education?. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Insights on Fanny & Freddie

  1. Gene Roche says:

    Thanks for posting the path leading to your discovering the site–I’m always looking for good evidence to get folks to embrace RSS.

    I have to admit that when I look at the scope of the problems facing the world I wonder if *any* institution has enough resources to unravel the complexity. You raise an important question.

    Can the market system, which is predicated on personal gain, be effectively used for the social good? Check out this blog to find out.

  2. Gardner says:

    Sideways question: I understand that the “rational man” is no longer a given in economic/market analysis, so I’m wondering (if I have that right) who is best to read on quasi- or typically-but-not-always rational market behavior … and how changing kinds of confidence in rational man theory might affect the use of markets to address social questions.

    Also, did you participate in any of the futures markets at ELI 2008? Can’t remember….

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