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In today's world, no one institution, not even the U.S. Fed, has the power to contain a crisis. Being a successful central banker now depends on what Geithner calls "a convening power … that is separate from the formal authority of our institution and which can be a very powerful tool."
Recalling an earlier crisis in global securities markets that he helped to manage, Geithner said the Fed brought together the leaders of the world's 14 major financial firms, from five countries, representing 95 percent of all the activity in global markets.
The Fed's evolving crisis-management playbook underscores not only the move toward more public-private collaboration on big global issues, but also the concentration of power among a very select and insular group of players—in this case, the heads of the world's biggest financial institutions
Many critics assert that this financial crisis is a classic example of elite overreach. Historically, elites from the tyrants of ancient Greece to those of post Civil War America have always been undone by their own greed and ambition. Many today wonder if this might be the beginning of the end for the current superclass, as it was in those instances when the rise of political reformers like Solon and Cleisthenes or trustbusters like Teddy Roosevelt led to major changes in efforts to rein in elite power.