Felix Rohatyn is an investment banker and has been a governor of the New York Stock Exchange, Chairman of the New York Municipal Assistance Corporation, and US Ambassador to France. (October 2008)

A New Bank to Save Our Infrastructure

These are rare times of ferment in one of the most neglected fields of public policy—the nation’s infrastructure, or what used to be known as public works, including roads, mass transit, bridges, ports and airports, flood control systems, and much else. We have been confronted with spectacular and tragic evidence …

From New York to Baghdad

There is war in the Middle East. The President of the United States is about to open a new theater of war in Asia. The stock market has collapsed: computer, technology, and conglomerate stocks have been particularly hard hit, declining by an average of 80 percent or more as the …

The Betrayal of Capitalism

During my nearly four years as ambassador to France I frequently gave a speech I called “Popular Capitalism in America” to audiences throughout France. This is a subject of intense interest to the French and to most other Europeans, who envy us our high rates of growth and low unemployment …

The Budget: Whom Can You Believe?

When President Clinton came out this June for a balanced budget within ten years, he returned to the economic approach that brought him significant support from many business leaders and economists in 1992. That approach included reducing the deficit in order to achieve lower interest rates and higher rates of …

World Capital: The Need & the Risks

The recent weakness and volatility of financial markets here and abroad have been perplexing. Since the US economy has been growing fairly steadily, the markets, which had fallen in value by as much as 10 percent since February, evidently do not reflect the state of the economy. The recent increases …

What the Government Should Do

The current presidential campaign has so far failed to provide something we badly need: a discussion of what government should and should not do in a modern industrial democracy. The recent events in Los Angeles have shown that government must be much more active in dealing with social problems such …

The New Domestic Order?

Two years ago, the sun began to shine on the Western democracies. The collapse of the communist system, first in Eastern Europe, then in the Soviet Union, brought about a general euphoria that reached deceptive proportions. Now the situation has become dark and chaotic. In the Persian Gulf, Iraq’s invasion …

The Fall and Rise of New York

New York City is facing a social, political, and economic crisis far more serious than the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. This is reflected both in the life of the city itself and in the attitudes toward the city in Washington and in the rest of the country. Fifteen years …

Becoming What They Think We Are

The ideals of the revolutions in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and even Bulgaria owe much to the American model, with its combination of political freedom and an economic system that seems to guarantee an ever-rising standard of living. It is important to recognize that it is a version of American political …

The Debt Addiction

A series of congressional hearings is now looking into various aspects of the nation’s financial markets. These hearings occur at a time when confidence in the integrity of the nation’s financial system and in the ability of the economy to sustain itself in an increasingly competitive world seems steadily to …

Restoring American Independence

More than two hundred years after the Declaration of Independence, the United States has lost its position as an independent power. While we are still without question the world’s leading military power, our predominance in weapons does not give us the freedom to act on our own. The hundreds of …

What Next?

The market convulsions of the last few weeks have shaken the world. We are still far from understanding exactly what happened and why; but we know that without the intervention of governments a serious financial crisis would have gone out of control. For the moment they have succeeded in stabilizing …

On the Brink

The United States today is headed for a financial and economic crisis. What appeared to be only a possibility five or six years ago became a probability more recently, and has now become a virtual certainty. The only real questions are when and how. In addition, when the crisis occurs, …

The Blight on Wall Street

As the revelations of illegality and excesses in the financial community begin to be exposed, those of us who are part of this community have to face a hard truth: a cancer has been spreading in our industry, and how far it will go will only become clear as the …

The New Chance for the Economy

Any discussion of the economy today has to begin with the most favorable economic event of the last twenty years, the collapse in oil prices. The runaway increase in oil prices in the 1970s was an enormous tax imposed on the industrial world by the oil producers. It created the …

The Debtor Economy: A Proposal

The economy this autumn is still growing, inflation is low, unemployment is down. Whether this proves the success of supply-side economics or is just another deficit-driven Keynesian recovery will be argued for years to come. It seems to me clear that the enormous federal budget deficit was largely responsible for …

American Roulette

On February 8, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Paul Volcker, testifying to the House Budget Committee, said that we were “playing Russian roulette” with our economy. The stock market, which had been in an increasingly nervous state for the previous several weeks, quickly went into a steep decline, …

Time for a Change

The economic recovery now under way appears to have increasing strength and momentum. The stock market has moved up dramatically, interest rates have come down significantly, consumer spending is up, inflation is down, production is growing. That is welcome news to everyone. There are two possible explanations for this recovery.

The State of the Banks

The vitality of Western economies is based, in important ways, on the health of our credit system. This system depends on the actual financial strength of large Western banks, on the financial and fiscal policies of Western governments, as well as on public psychology. Today, for a variety of reasons, …

A Raw Deal

President Reagan’s call for a “New Federalism” deserves better than automatic praise by Republicans and equally reflexive criticism by Democrats. State-federal relations have been a subject of concern to local officials for years, and a national program to sort out those relationships is overdue. The fact that the administration’s program …

New York and the Nation

“Racial disadvantage is a fact of current life. Urgent action is needed if it is not to become an endemic, ineradicable disease threatening the very survival of our society.” This is not a quotation from a speech by the head of the Urban League or the NAACP. It is part …

A Matter of Psychology

The following testimony was given by Felix G. Rohatyn before the Committee on Ways and Means of the US House of Representatives on March 5. Mr. Chairman, I am delighted to testify before your committee. The president’s economic plan, put in its simplest form, calls for a huge budget cut …

Reconstructing America

One of the gravest events in our history is the inner emigration taking place in the United States. During the last decade, Chicago lost 12 percent of its population, Baltimore 14 percent, Cleveland 24 percent, and St. Louis 28 percent. The proportion of taxpayers moving out was undoubtedly greater. During …

The Older America: Can It Survive?

For the city and state of New York, and for many other northern cities and states, the economic realities of the election are going to be felt very soon. They are both inevitable and harsh, and they will require new thinking and new policies on the part of our political …

The Coming Emergency and What Can Be Done About It

What is the outlook for American society and, more specifically, how can our society adapt to an economy in distress? It is a vast question that I can only speak to from a rather limited, but nonetheless eye-opening, experience, as chairman of New York’s Municipal Assistance Corporation. But, in brief, …