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Are the Banks Running America?
Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis, right, leads the way as chief executives leave the White House in Washington, Friday, March 27, 2009, after a meeting between chief executives and President Barack Obama. From left are: Wells Fargo Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf; Morgan Stanley Chief Executive John Mack; US Bank Chief Executive Officer Richard Davis; and Lewis.(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

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)

Simon Johnson is raising hell over our response to the economic crisis so far. The former chief economist at the IMF says it’s been half-measures and soft steps and hasn’t gone nearly far enough to break up failed banks and knock back the Wall Street lords of finance.

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.

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