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Simon Johnson: Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken

The progressive economist talks about the fight to reform Wall Street, what Robert Rubin should do with his money, and why Jamie Dimon is the most dangerous man in America.

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ZC: But this lesson about financial crashes seems to get unlearned every few years. One of the more obnoxious things Jamie Dimon said before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was that remark about how financial crises happen every five to seven years, and we should stop being surprised by it and stop trying to prevent or contain it. But why does it keep happening? Why can't people remember that markets often get out of control and crash?

SJ: Oh that's hooey; they remember. The problem is that they have incentives to do it again. The Chuck Prince quote that we all make fun of--"While the music is playing you've got to get up and dance"--is actually 100 percent correct. It totally encapsulates what is wrong with Wall Street now and what was wrong with Wall Street before. Remember, he said that in July 2007 just as the wheels were starting to come off the bus. The insanity couldn't continue forever, but everybody was getting rich by pretending it could.

Zach Carter is an economics editor at AlterNet. He writes a weekly blog on the economy for the Media Consortium and his work has appeared in the Nation, Mother Jones, the American Prospect and Salon.