According to a New York Times article about Greenspan and his policies today, Greenspan is defending his stance on derivatives (he was pro-derivatives) by saying the whole imploding economy is because of people acting in bad faith in the markets, but the deregulated derivatives approach was somehow still “right.”

Mr. Greenspan is apparently living in a world without people. I’ve been aware of Wall Street and its tendancy to, er, stretch the boundaries of good and bad faith since Greenspan took office. In case he didn’t notice, we had a Savings and Loan Crisis, a Junk Bond collapse, Long-Term Capital Management’s collapse, the Internet bubble popping, then a wave of corporate scandals that even took down Arthur Andersen. Where was he during this 20-year march of greed that he could champion deregulation under the belief that people wouldn’t be greedy and would act in good faith without regulation to impose penalties when they didn’t?

How could he cling to a theory that depended, oh-by-the-way, on the naive belief that people would do the “right” thing even though the instruments let them become unbelievably wealthy by doing the wrong (but legal) thing?

I just don’t get it. And I find myself repeating it over and over in stunned disbelief. He actually believed that Wall Street would police itself, after having presided over several TRILLION dollars worth of corruption and greed with several successive financial instrument “advancements.”

I’m so very, very glad that the man is no longer making policy. Of course, having the head of an investment bank now in the position doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. Goldman has a good reputation, but at this point, I’m not at all sure that anyone steeped in the financial industry culture for 20+ years has the objectivity to know whether the system is fundamentally broken (they have a vested interest in believing it’s not), or whether it simply requires some trillion-dollar tweaks to put it back in order.