12/29/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Paul Krugman: Why We Didn't See The Economic Crisis Coming

A few months ago I found myself at a meeting of economists and finance officials, discussing -- what else? -- the crisis. There was a lot of soul-searching going on. One senior policy maker asked, "Why didn't we see this coming?"

There was, of course, only one thing to say in reply, so I said it: "What do you mean 'we,' white man?"

Seriously, though, the official had a point. Some people say that the current crisis is unprecedented, but the truth is that there were plenty of precedents, some of them of very recent vintage. Yet these precedents were ignored. And the story of how "we" failed to see this coming has a clear policy implication -- namely, that financial market reform should be pressed quickly, that it shouldn't wait until the crisis is resolved.

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