Anna Schwartz vs Paulson
Market ticker has a worth reading post featuring Anna Schwartz, an economist that actually lived through the depression.
Certainly Karl Denninger gives a strong case for assigning responsiblity for the mess:
"Chairman Bernanke was on The Federal Reserve Board during the Greenspan years, when Alan Greenspan "pumped liquidity" after 9/11 and the Tech Wreck, yet at the same time removed essentially all regulation and oversight from the banking sector. He is thus complicit in the generation of the credit bubble that led to this disaster, and to take strong action against the perpetrators of same he would both have to admit that he in fact was one of the prime causative factors in the mess and would be forced to resign in disgrace.
Secretary Paulson is in an even worse situation - he, as Chairman of Goldman Sachs, testified in Congress as far back as the year 2000 that Investment Banks should have the shackles of leverage restraint removed from them. He failed to get that from Arthur Levitt in 2000 (President Clinton's chair of the SEC) but came back to the well in 2004 under President Bush and was successful. Two years later, having used that expansion of leverage to garner a personal fortune of $500 million dollars, he cashed out tax-free to take his seat as Treasury Secretary.
Every one of the large firms that has failed - all five (Fannie, Freddie, AIG, Lehman and Bear Stearns) - would still be in operation today if their leverage had been held at the pre-2004 12:1 limit. Therefore, Secretary Paulson must accept personal responsibility for the decisions that led to the failure of these firms, as he was one of the primary individuals in American Business who argued for removal of these constraints."
I think it is a good post...