Bookmark and ShareAndrew Simms is nef‘s Policy Director and head of nef’s Climate Change programme.

When copies of The Great Crash: 1929 by JK Galbraith were on their way back from the printer in 1955, its author was giving evidence to a Senate hearing – during which there was a sudden stockmarket crash. He was blamed for it.

Galbraith wasn’t a market maker or breaker. His book just made a simple point, repeatedly: that among financiers a sense of responsibility for the system they are part of is not just low, but virtually non-existent. Hence the permanent need for strong regulation.

Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, clearly wasn’t listening because his recent words appear forlorn, almost childishly naive: “I made a mistake,” he said, “in presuming that the self-interests of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

Yesterday Alistair Darling, Adair Turner and Mervyn King were all hauled before the Treasury select committee to answer for the handling of the crisis. Darling, the chancellor, and King, the governor of the Bank of England, do have much to answer for (Turner being too new as head of the Financial Services Authority). But were they even asked the right questions?

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