10 Smartest Things Said About the Financial Crisis

December 8, 2008   

Disclosure: I do not agree with everything quoted here. Nonetheless, I’ve found these quotes insightful and indicative of how we got into this mess and how we’ll get out of it. Please add your favorite quotes in the comments section below: Warren Buffett:

Buy American. I am.

Scott Rafer, as told by Aaron Cohen:

“MacroEconomics are fiction,” claimed Scott three times during our conversation.  He’s admirably cogent and intentionally hyperbolic in his arguments.  His point, and I agree, is that the startup community — investors and entrepreneurs — are spending too much time worrying about the recession, global finanical challenges, and domestic financial policy.  We both feel that entrepreneurs should focus on their energies on the economics of their particularly companies.

Chris Sacca, via Twitter:

Anyone vociferously advocating for the US auto bailout clearly hasn’t rented this 2009 Dodge with no power windows or locks.

Paul Graham:

Another advantage of bad times is that there’s less competition. Technology trains leave the station at regular intervals. If everyone else is cowering in a corner, you may have a whole car to yourself.

Barack Obama:

It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online and they’ll get that chance when I’m President – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.

Graham and Dodd, as oft quoted:

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.

Josh Green:

So expect to see a fair number of people taking the entrepreneurial plunge. Traditionally, factories have avoided working with entrepreneurs, because entrepreneurs place smaller orders and their growth is anything but certain. However, in this environment, order-starved factories will be more willing to work with entrepreneurs.

Gregory Berns:

The most concrete thing that neuroscience tells us is that when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risk-taking are turned off. The first order of business, then, is to neutralize that system.

This means not being a fearmonger. It means avoiding people who are overly pessimistic about the economy. It means tuning out media that fan emotional flames. Unless you are a day-trader, it means closing the Web page with the market ticker. It does mean being prepared, but not being a hypervigilant, everyone-in-the-bunker type.” (Via Chris McAleen)

Michael Lewis:

The shareholders who financed the risks had no real understanding of what the risk takers were doing, and as the risk-taking grew ever more complex, their understanding diminished. The moment Salomon Brothers demonstrated the potential gains to be had by the investment bank as public corporation, the psychological foundations of Wall Street shifted from trust to blind faith. (Via Heekyung Kim)

Roger Ehrenberg:

The SOC [Stabilization Oversight Council] will be accountable to Congress and the US taxpayer, and will be staffed by market practitioners, economists and policy-makers. It will be responsible for developing policy and implementing decisions to address the crisis and stabilize the economy, and will incorporate input from the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the FDIC and the White House. However, it will neither seek nor require consensus.

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