24 December 2008

A Question Worth Considering for the New Year...

What is at the heart of the US financial crisis?

Is it that the US has been precipitously cut off from some foreign source of funding? Has there been an oil embargo, a supply shock imposed such as the one that triggered the financial crisis of the 1970's? Are the problems caused by some external change, some actor outside the system?

I think most will say the answer is 'no.' The problems are internal to the US, to its financial system.

So, how would you fix a system that has broken from an internal flaw in this way? Try more of the same, business as usual, apply fresh debt to a failed system based on a growing pyramid of debt without making any substantial changes?

The US financial system, the housing, equity and Treasury markets, are all Ponzi schemes, with the need for a constantly increasing source of fresh money to keep going. That funding is new debt, new dollars based on nothing produced, just the trust and confidence of the participants.

Would you fix the Madoff Ponzi scheme by giving Bernie more money, public money, to keep his payments flowing to his 'investors?'

I think most of us would say, no, no more money.

But what is the difference between that and what Paulson and Bernanke are doing today? Is there a graceful exit strategy? Have any serious reforms or changes been made or even proposed? Has there even been a frank disclosure and discussion of exactly what happened, and what is continuing to happen, beyond blaming the victims, or cynically hiding behind 'well that's how things are?'

No. The key participants in the Ponzi scheme are continuing to take their gains out, in dividends and bonuses, front running the final collapse and admission that "its all gone; we're bankrupt."

Think about it.

What would you do if it is a Ponzi scheme, teetering on the edge?