Financial crisis Head of German research institute compares the plight of managers to victims of anti-Semitism

Prof. Hans-Werner Sinn, the president of Ifo (Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung / Institute for Economic Research) said in an interview with a German newspaper that “in 1929 Jews were made scapegoats but today it’s managers” who are made scapegoats for the financial crisis. He said that an impersonal and anonymous system brought about the current crisis. According to Prof. Sinn, people seek someone to blame and look for scapegoats in any crisis.

It is preposterous and distasteful to compare and even equate anti-Semitism and the blame that has been heaped on the (bank) managers. The current financial crisis is a result of a massive systematic failure but it is also a collective failure of managers. One’s actions cannot be without consequences and responsibility. Who made the wrong decisions? Who bought and sold things that they didn’t understand? There are real people of different skin colours and religious beliefs behind the system who collectively took part in this madness. I blame those managers who made wrong decisions, not because managers are managers who form a race separate from us determined in an irrational manner.

Sinn means “sense” in German: a lot of people are reacting how unsinnig or schwachsinnig (nonsensical / idiotic) his comments were. I fully agree.

Added: 31 October 2008

I was not following the story closely but according to reports, Prof. Sinn has apologized and retracted his statement the following day, 27 October 2008.