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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 12 September 2021 at 12:33pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I was in a PhD program at Rutgers-Newark at the time. My office had a view of the WTC... and I could see the buildings burn. They told us to leave the upper floors, so I was in the school library when the buildings collapsed, and I spent much of the next week helping at the relief station set up in our gym. We loaded and unloaded trucks going to Ground Zero. It wasn't long before they called that off, however; there was nobody there left to help.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 12 September 2021 at 1:09pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

The spirit of all the helpers on that day is something we need to remember and magnify.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 12 September 2021 at 5:01pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

 Joe Zhang wrote:
 Bush Jr. supercharged the process by invading Iraq. Distracted, he let the Great Financial Crisis happen

If not for invading Iraq, W would have been all over tightening regulations for home loans? He'd have seen through the Wall Street machinations of mortgage-backed securities and clocked to the collusion of the credit agencies? He's have rolled back the bi-partisan Commodity Futures Modernization Act that had only been passed the year he was elected that exempted derivatives from regulation and capital reserves requirements for major participants? He'd have been worried about the free markets not being able to self correct and gone over the head of Alan Greenspan the long-standing Chairman of the Fed at the time?

Nah, I'm not buying it.
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Joe Zhang
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Posted: 12 September 2021 at 6:38pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

The problem goes back to why the international banking system would regard American mortgage backed securities as high-quality collateral, at the same level as Treasury bills. Its because the world economy has an insatiable need for dollars and dollar denominated assets such as T-bills and mortgage backed securities. Regulators allowed bankers to infect mortgage backed securities with sub-prime loans. When the Europeans realized the American securities they were holding, which were underpinning their own banking systems, were potentially worthless all hell broke loose. 

So why did regulators let that happen? Either they are morons (they're not), or they had a strong motive. Greenspan and those guys were under pressure to keep the economy from going into recession while America was waging very expensive foreign wars. Greenspan viewed the housing industry as the answer, as just let it go on autopilot. They tried to sell everyone a house. They even tried to get me to buy one, though I told them I was totally broke at the time. 

Greenspan rolled the dice and we all lost. He wouldn't have had to make that gamble had GWB restrained his imperial ambitions in the Middle East and just focused on fighting Al Queda. 


Edited by Joe Zhang on 12 September 2021 at 6:55pm
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 12 September 2021 at 7:34pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I think you give regulators too much credit for having the ability to be on the ball when it comes to innovations in derivatives. It's not as binary as they are morons or they allowed it to happen with knowledge of what was going on.

Investment banks pay more and are not inclined to reveal more than legally required to regulators. It does not follow, therefore, that regulators must be morons if they are not immediately aware of what the investment banks are cooking up. It means they are up against the kind of sharp minds that top dollar buys and also hobbled by imperfect access to all the information.

By the by, GWB's post 9/11 actions staved off a post-Enron bear market by creating an entire new industry for the US (homeland security) and, had that correction played out in 2002, it's possible that the bubble wouldn't have been quite so big by the time it busted in the financial crisis. It's unreasonable though to judge the actions made at the time through the clear lens of hindsight. Though no fan of W or his actions in the Middle East, I genuinely think no-one had a clear overview of the storm that was brewing in terms of a global credit crunch and certainly Bush was not responsible for aspects such as the poor credit management of financial institutions worldwide or the unmanageably large sovereign debt that many countries had taken on.

And if Greenspan was rolling the dice as you say, it predated Bush. Greenspan had been on the side of unregulated OTC derivatives since the late 90s.


Edited by Peter Martin on 12 September 2021 at 7:36pm
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 13 September 2021 at 9:56am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

While I agree that a) 9/11 was a wound to this country's soul that had nothing but negative outcomes, and b) Bin Laden was a canny student of history who knew the dominoes that would fall in our reaction, it's in no way remotely the only or even primary source of domestic problems of the last two decades. 

For starters, the partisan divide and the strategic stonewalling of the Congressional GOP was already fully in play and proven a successful strategy. Secondly, right wing media had already built to a bloc-manipulating monolith by that point. Obviously the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the contested and thorny Court decision in the 2000 Presidential Election started the Bush administration off on a sour note. And all of the economic issues were building long before 9/11. There'd be no change in our policy on climate, which is the major international crisis of the age - if anything, it's possible that the geopolitical circumstances of our energy policy (like our oil dependence on Saudi Arabia) that were laid bare by the attack shifted a part of the electorate favorably towards clean energy.

The main geopolitical change that I'd say can be traced from it is in Brexit and other strains on the EU, which was already in play before the Syrian refugee crisis.  I think the jury is still out if the rise of fascism as a political force globally is an outcome of 9/11 or if 9/11 and global fascism are both symptoms of the same source.  I lean towards the latter, given that the most successful inroads fascist leaders have made in the West is in Brazil, which is far removed from Islamist terrorism and any of its responses.
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 13 September 2021 at 9:58am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

And I suppose the militarization of the police could be tied back to 9/11, though again indirectly.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 13 September 2021 at 12:40pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Since the concept of organized police forces first came along, the officers have been armed to best deal with what they faced on the streets.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 13 September 2021 at 12:44pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

 Dave wrote:
The main geopolitical change that I'd say can be traced from it is in Brexit

Hi Dave, could you expand on this for me please? I've tried to think what connection there is that you're seeing between 9/11 and Brexit, but I don't see it.


Edited by Peter Martin on 13 September 2021 at 12:45pm
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 13 September 2021 at 1:14pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Peter: I view Great Britain's exit from the EU as being in reaction to the Syrian refugee crisis, and quotas, etc.  It's given nationalist movements a real push everywhere, and Britain has always had a very tentative single-toe-in-the-water approach with the EU.

I don't know about the level of popularity that Britain's participation in the Iraq War had domestically initially, but it did Blair no favors when the sheer grind of it set in, so that no doubt sowed the seeds as well.

I think it's generally agreed that the Syrian civil war wouldn't have happened when it did and the way it did had the U.S. not used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq as part of the whole Bush Doctrine neoconservative clusterfuck.


Edited by Dave Kopperman on 13 September 2021 at 1:19pm
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 13 September 2021 at 5:53pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

OK, Dave, thanks for the answer. You're right that immigration was certainly in the mix of things used to try and sway voters, though  euroscepticism in the hard right of the Tory party -- and amongst the wider populace, I dare say -- has been knocking around since at least the early 1990s.
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 13 September 2021 at 8:16pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Peter: Yeah, if I wasn't clear, I think it's only a part of it - which is my general thesis in response to Joe's whole "he who controls magnesium controls the universe" bin Laden master plan theory.  There's nothing that's happened since that likely wouldn't have happened, and all of the pieces that were there have been there for decades. Honestly, bin Laden got way more than he bargained for.  

In the case of Brexit, the Syrian refugee crisis was just the extra little "scare the white folks" cream on top of the general UK "fuck this EU shit" attitude - so Brexit was likely inevitable, but happened when it did as the tail end of a Rube Goldberg-esque string of post-9/11 geopolitical follies.

If there's anyone out there who's really read their Karl Popper and knows how to hit at all the weaknesses of western democracies, it's Putin, and he knows it. As Dave Chapelle said (in regards to the stories of Russian interference in the 2016 election), "America was the gun, Putin just pulled the trigger."  But, again: not a direct result of 9/11, just an ongoing hangover from the Cold War.

Having said that, Islamic, white supremacist, and all other forms of terrorism are a danger we need to remain vigilant about, no doubt.
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