Prospect Magazine’s Top 25 Brains of the Financial Crisis

The UK’s Prospect magazine – a genial, well-edited left-liberal take, by American standards, on politics – offers its list of the 25 leading public intellectuals offering commentary and sage advice in the financial crisis (in some cases action, too – Ben Bernanke is included).  The list is full of worthy commentators, and I wouldn’t disinvite anyone off the list – but it does seem to me a tad skewed to one direction, and not just with the natural weight given to UK people and, err, log-rolling in our time, i.e., Prospect contributors.

I was going to frame the question, “Who would you add to this list if you want to make it just as brainy but a bit more ideologically balanced?”  I’m not sure, however, looking back over it again, that I do think that everyone on this list should be here.  So let’s reframe it.  Twenty-five max.  For every name you nominate to go on, name who you vote off the island.

Interruption:  Changed my mind … season of peace on earth, good will toward men, etc., etc.  No voting off the island.  Add up to ten names of your own to these and say why; no criticism of the existing list.

(In another post, but not this one, I’ll ask how you would set up a reality show involving economists and desert islands and, no, not where they all get eaten by hungry baboons – or each other.  Not this post.)

1. Simon Johnson. Professor at MIT, Peterson Institute fellow, former IMF chief economist, blogger, troublemaker and scourge of once-mighty banks—a worthy winner in 2009.

2. Avinash Persaud. Financial liquidity analyst, adviser to governments around the world, the man who has studied “herd” behaviour in finance, and now the man trying to stop it.

3. Adair Turner. An unusually bold regulator, Turner made headlines worldwide slamming “socially useless” finance (in Prospect) and suggesting a Tobin tax to put sand in the wheels of global finance.

The first three are the top choices, and everyone else in alphabetical order:

Ben Bernanke.  Cerebral Federal Reserve chairman, seen by many as saviour of the US economy while congress dithered.

Andrew Haldane. Bank of England director who warned of a “doom loop” of perpetual banking bailouts.

Philip Hildebrand. Swiss banker who boldly pushed cutting his country’s banks to size.

John Kay. Well-regarded British economist who wants a return to simple banking.

Mervyn King. Bank of England boss, initially wrong-footed by the crisis, but had a better, more aggressive 2009.

Richard Koo. Insider adviser to politicians and banks, an expert on the lessons from Japan, and deficit dove-in-chief.

Paul Krugman. Celebrated economist and author of a must-read New York Times essay on the failures of economics.

Christine Lagarde. French minister of economic affairs who got just the right mix of stick and carrot for French banks.

Donald Mackenzie. Edinburgh professor, author of many sharp LRB essays unpicking the anthropology of finance.

Lucy Prebble. 28-year-old British author of Enron, the best play yet on irrational exuberance.

Nouriel Roubini. Legendarily gloomy, normally correct finance analyst whose blogs alone can move markets.

Brad Setser. Young policy wonk, co-blogger with Simon Johnson and author of Bailouts or Bail-ins? with Roubini.

Robert Shiller. Credit-crunch US sage and behavioural economics pioneer.

Jon Stewart. Brainy American satirist whose Daily Show has made finance a laughing stock.

Joseph Stiglitz. Nobel laureate, chair of UN commission on financial reform and harsh critic of finance-as-usual.

Matt Taibbi. US journalist, wrote a celebrated scathing attack on Goldman Sachs.

Paul Volcker. Ex-Fed chair, pushing for splitting up investment and savings banks.

Elizabeth Warren. Harvard professor, consumer rights watchdog, leads the panel watching over Obama’s bailout money.

Martin Wolf. FT writer and the Anglosphere’s most influential finance journalist.

Paul Woolley. Innovative LSE thinker on “capital market dysfunctionality.”

Yu Yongding. Influential economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Zhou Xiaochuan. Bank of China head, architect of China’s response to the crisis.