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Are the Banks Running America?45:16
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 Chief executives of major U.S. banks leave the White House on Friday, March 27, 2009, after a meeting with President Barack Obama. From left: Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf; Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack; US Bank CEO Richard Davis; and Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis. (AP)
Chief executives of major U.S. banks leave the White House on Friday, March 27, 2009, after a meeting with President Barack Obama. From left: Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf; Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack; US Bank CEO Richard Davis; and Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis. (AP)

The reason, he says, is that a financial elite has quietly taken over this country and its assumptions — sewn up power, he charges, as surely as in any banana republic — and barred the way to real change.

These are hot words from a top scholar and economist.

This hour, On Point: Simon Johnson on where we stand now in the economic crisis, and why.

You can join the conversation. Does Johnson’s analysis sound over-the-top to you? Just right? Are we taking the right steps to reset the American economy? Does the U.S. really deserve the label “banana republic”?Guest:

Joining us from Washington is Simon Johnson, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management. Former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, he's now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. His new article in The Atlantic, "The Quiet Coup," argues that "the finance industry has effectively captured our government — a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets." He co-founded the widely read blog The Baseline Scenario, where you can read his latest commentary.

This program aired on March 31, 2009.

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