Who's To Blame For The Financial Crisis?

U.S. flag behind Wall Street sign.

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Economist Nouriel Roubini was among the panelists arguing in favor of the proposition, "Blame Washington More Than Wall Street for the Financial Crisis." Kevin Wick/Longview Photography hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Wick/Longview Photography
Economist Nouriel Roubini

Economist Nouriel Roubini was among the panelists arguing in favor of the proposition, "Blame Washington More Than Wall Street for the Financial Crisis."

Kevin Wick/Longview Photography

Who should bear more of the blame for the financial collapse: Washington or Wall Street? A panel of six experts recently took on that question in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate.

The motion for the March 17 debate at The Rockefeller University in New York City was: "Blame Washington More Than Wall Street for the Financial Crisis." Three experts argued in favor of that motion in an Oxford-style debate, and three argued against.

Before the debate, the audience voted 42 percent in favor of the motion and 30 percent against, with 28 percent undecided. By the end of the debate, 60 percent voted in favor of the proposition, while 31 percent voted against it, and 9 percent were still undecided.

John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline, was moderator for the evening. Those debating were:


Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch professor of history at Harvard University; a senior research fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University; and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. The author of The Cash Nexus, Empire and Colossus, he also writes regularly for newspapers and magazines all over the world.

John Steele Gordon is a frequent commentator on the public radio business news program Marketplace and has appeared on CNBC, PBS, ABC's 20/20, Bloomberg and C-SPAN television. His books include The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power, 1653-2000 and An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power.

Nouriel Roubini is a professor of economics and international business at the Stern School of Business, New York University; and co-founder and chairman of RGE Monitor, an economic and geostrategic information service. He has served as a senior economist for international affairs at the White House Council of Economic Advisers; and as senior adviser to the undersecretary for international affairs and the director of the Office of Policy Development and Review at the U.S. Treasury Department.


Alex Berenson has been a business investigative reporter for The New York Times since 2000. He is the author of three novels and one nonfiction book, The Number, an explanation of how Wall Street's obsession with short-term profits damages markets — and all of America.

Jim Chanos is the founder and managing partner of Kynikos Associates. As the largest exclusive short-selling investment firm, Kynikos provides investment management services for both domestic and offshore clients. Chanos' celebrated short sale of Enron shares was recently dubbed by Barron's as "the market call of the decade, if not the past 50 years."

Nell Minow is the editor and co-founder of The Corporate Library, an independent corporate governance research firm. Minow has served as president of Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice. In 2003, BusinessWeek Online dubbed her "the queen of good corporate governance."

The Intelligence Squared U.S. series is produced in New York City by The Rosenkranz Foundation.



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