Did the “excesses” of capitalism cause the current financial crisis? First, we really don’t have capitalism in the United States, at least not any reasonable semblance of laissez faire capitalism, as explained in my post The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Present Crisis, based on the work of Professor George Reisman.
The Wall Street Journal article How Government Created the Financial Crisis: Research shows the failure to rescue Lehman did not trigger the fall panic explains more in these excerpts:
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Many are calling for a 9/11-type commission to investigate the financial crisis. Any such investigation should not rule out government itself as a major culprit. My research shows that government actions and interventions — not any inherent failure or instability of the private economy — caused, prolonged and dramatically worsened the crisis. … The realization by the public that the government’s intervention plan had not been fully thought through, and the official story that the economy was tanking, likely led to the panic seen in the next few weeks. And this was likely amplified by the ad hoc decisions to support some financial institutions and not others and unclear, seemingly fear-based explanations of programs to address the crisis. What was the rationale for intervening with Bear Stearns, then not with Lehman, and then again with AIG? What would guide the operations of the TARP? … Massive responses with little explanation will probably make things worse. That is the lesson from this crisis so far.