The Man Nobody Wanted To Hear

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 3:39 AM

Very long and fascinating article in today's Der Spiegel about a man named William White, a Canadian who was the chief economist at arguably the most important financial institution in the world, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), headquartered in Basel. This outfit is called the central bank for all central banks, but I do not have a clue what they actually do there, besides research.

Mr. White retired from BIS last summer, intent upon relaxing in the Bernese Oberland. Instead, he's very much in demand, thanks to the meltdown or blowup of the international economy. Why is Mr. White in demand? Because he predicted and tried to avert the train wreck which he saw coming. He and his bosses at BIS were actually in a position to do something about it; they were not just pundits, maverick doomsayers, or talking heads on TV. The problem was, nobody wanted to listen to them, especially not Al "cheap money" Greenspan, who was revered as the indispensable "Maestro" of international high finance.

It is a helluva story. Click here. Sample: "He [White] predicted the disaster, and yet not even his own clientele was willing to believe him. It was probably the biggest failure of the world's central bankers since the founding of the BIS in 1930. They knew everything and did nothing."