Back in 2003 when Liaquat Ahamed began researching his Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the four central bankers who led Europe and the United States into the Great Depression, he had a hard time differentiating the headlines from the 1930s and those of the day.
Ahamed sat down with David Bradley, owner of Atlantic Media Co., to discuss his book The Lords of Finance: The Bankers who Broke the World at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday. The book won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in history for its commentary on the economic conditions that led to the Great Depression in the ‘20s and how it compares to the recession of the current millennium.
He didn’t intend the book to be a critique of the current state of the economy, but as he continued his research and the nation’s credit bubble collapsed, the parallels became too similar to ignore, he said.
“Those who tell you that this financial crisis could have been worse than the Great Depression are [correct],” he said adding that the crisis is a kind of Frankenstein that no one is sure how to control.
Ahamed listed the similarities of the two recessions, comparing Greece’s current crumbling economy to Germany’s after World War I, among other things. At the end of the session an audience member asked Ahamed what he thinks the government should do to get the country out of the recession.
“I’m much better on the past than the future,” answered Ahamed, who later added, “I’m not smart enough to figure it out, but I’m not sure anyone is.”
-Dorothy M. Atkins
When 59-year-old Walter Isaacson sat down with the 30-somethings who invented Twitter at Aspen Ideas Festival Tuesday, long pauses pervaded the interview.
Biz Stone and Evan Williams, creators of Twitter Inc., remained silent before answering a blunt “yes” to many of the questions Isaacson put to them. The questions included whether or not the internet was moving towards bringing the virtual world into the physical world and whether people could function successfully without social media.
Isaacson noted that New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman said he has never and will never use Twitter or Facebook. Stone quickly discredited the statement.
“Has he ever read CNN or the New York Times?” asked Stone rhetorically. “Then chances are he’s read a Tweet.”
Twitter is a social media site that allows users to share comments in 140 characters or less.
“It’s not about what I had for lunch today,” said Stone. “It’s about getting information out.”
Stone emphasized the role Twitter has as an important vehicle for transmitting concise information, which he argued can at times be life saving, as well as how it can rally like-minded individuals behind a cause.
“When you’re following people you wish you knew as opposed to following people you used to know ... it has a lot of wonderful repercussions.”
-Dorothy M. Atkins