Evaluating the financial crisis and Great Recession is an exercise in benchmarking. Today’s US jobs report is a good example: While employment finally reached levels last seen before the housing bubbled popped—huzzah!—the relative share of people who are employed remains far below the pre-recession trend—boo! Every sign of progress can also be seen as a failure to meet potential.
That’s why, for all the attention that former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s recent narrative apologia for American financial policy has received, you should turn to Tufts University political scientist Dan Drezner’s new book, The System Worked: How the World Stopped Another Depression, for a wider view. Like Geithner, Drezner’s depiction of these events, warts and all, makes the case that global economic governance helped pull the fat from the fire.
“In some ways, the informal title for this would have been ‘it could have been so much worse,’” Drezner says. “Look, the performance was sub-optimal, but it wasn’t sub-par.”
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