Sunday, March 1, 2009

What got us here?

Citing greed as the reason our economy blew up is like blaming gravity when you fall off a ladder. It's true but it's not going away so to avoid another fall you should figure out why you lost your balance. In the world economic crisis' case, we basically had a bad base for our ladder, slippery shoes, a windy day, and a drunk helper holding the ladder. It wasn't a matter of if we were going to fall but when, how far, and how much it would hurt when we hit the ground.

Every politician, every Wall Street exec, every Fed economist and almost every journalist has an axe to grind when describing what caused this disaster. There are a lot of asses to cover. The politicians in D.C. grill the executives and blame their greed as the cause but that's to keep the journalists busy so they don't look at why that greed wasn't regulated. The Wall Streeters have been beaten up so bad that they're silent now but not so long ago they blamed the short sellers and the press for their woes. I remember Angelo Mozillo saying on CNBC that Countrywide's mortgages were as sound as ever and the stock would rebound; meanwhile he was selling as many shares as he could. The current and former Fed geniuses won't admit to much blame lest they get thrown off the Fed-Goldman-PIMCO-Administration-Ivy League President merry-go-round that keeps them fat in both financial and reputation capital. CNBC acted as a financial cheerleader for years, an apologist for Wall Street for a few months before regressing to televised talk radio since the inauguration. They are to Jamie Dimon what Katic Couric is to Barrack Obama. Did our free press fail us at all? The problems at AIG, the time-bomb models used to measure risk, the compensation programs that lead to risking the whole firm for one group's bonus pool, regulators set up to look the other way, lenders pressured to approve more and more questionable loans-- these tools of destruction, and others, went uncovered until it was too late. Let's figure out what got us here and what we can do differently going forward.

No comments:

Post a Comment