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Morning Reading

11:11 AM, Sep 15, 2009 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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(1) Like the Washington Post / ABC News poll, USA Today / Gallup finds that Obama's speech last week hardly changed support for health care reform.

Susan Page writes: "The president's speech apparently failed to galvanize public opinion in the way the White House had hoped. While it drew a national television audience estimated by Nielsen at more than 32 million people, there's little evidence in the survey that it changed minds."

(2) Niall Ferguson engages in some virtual history:

Not everything in history is inevitable; contingencies abound. Sometimes it is therefore right to say "if only". But an imagined rescue of Lehman Brothers is the wrong counterfactual. The right one goes like this. If only Lehman's failure and the passage of Tarp had been followed - not immediately, but after six months - by a clear statement to the surviving banks that none of them was henceforth too big to fail, then we might actually have learnt something from this crisis.

The real tragedy is that the failure of Lehman has left Wall Street's survivors both bigger in relative terms and more secure politically. As long as the big banks feel confident that they can count on the government to bail them out - for who would now risk "another Lehman"? - they can more or less ignore calls for lower leverage and saner compensation.

If only we had learnt from Lehman that no bank should be "too big to fail", we might still have a real capitalist system, instead of the state-guaranteed monstrosity that is the real legacy of last year's crisis. If only.

Ferguson's Ascent of Money is also worth reading.