No Ducking the Debt Ceiling
What debt ceiling?
I haven’t been on Mars for the last two weeks, but close to it….off in the woods and on vacation, unplugged, untethered, and blissfully out of touch. So I missed the all-consuming topic that must have driven everyone crazy while I was away.
Somehow, everything came to an end (at least for now) without my input. Like me, I bet Americans feel they had a better plan than what Washington came up with, and they’re probably right. Sausage-making, and its final product, has seldom been so unpalatable.
Summer doesn’t seem like the right time for heavy lifting but some HBS faculty members didn’t shy away from the debt ceiling/budget deficit donnybrook. What follows are highlights of what some of them recently said. What do you think about what we’ve just been through? What lessons from all of this should HBS professors pass on to their students?
Writing in mid-July, Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen succinctly proposed what he called “a debt plan Republicans can support…with $400 billion in revenue raisers.” To many Americans, this is now read-it-and-weep material.
Just days before the vote, Professor of Management Practice Robert Kaplan wrote that it didn’t really matter if a deal fell through, “the damage to the economy had already been done”. After the vote, he observed, the deal amounted to little more than kicking “the can down the road.”
Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter blogged that “for many observers of the rancorous partisanship surrounding the budget crisis in Washington, leadership is hardly the first concept that comes to mind.” Yet she goes on to draw some positive lessons, with a big assist from that classic American crutch in time of crisis, baseball.
But Professor William Sahlman is less sanguine, to put it mildly, stating that “Greece looks like a paragon of fiscal management” compared to how the United States and its political leadership is doing.
Among a number of Tweeters with multiple tweets on the subject, Professor of Management Practice Bill George remarks that “pols put party ideology ahead of the needs of the country” and “no winners here.” Professor Nancy Koehn opines, “What does it mean when the world’s leading power (and geopolitical playground cop) cannot govern itself?”
The fall semester begins in a few weeks, with the new academic year always a time of renewal and hope. For this fresh crop of students coming to HBS — the Class of 2013 — these will be interesting, perhaps unprecedented, times for the study of business, management, and leadership.