Monday, May 03, 2010

Quotes of the day

You can’t fix what you can’t explain.--Nicholas Brady

Throughout history people who make good profits during economic crises have been condemned as “speculators”, and used as scapegoats, often by the very governments whose policies caused a crisis. These speculators have been imprisoned, and sometimes even put to death Successful speculators, however, usually dampen fluctuations in outputs and prices, and help provide markets where companies can hedge risks that accompany their business activities. ... Applied to the financial crisis, if when housing prices were rising so rapidly, more speculators had been shorting the housing market, or shorted mortgage-backed securities whose value depended on what happened in the housing market, their actions would have reduced the sharp increase in housing prices, and reduced the subsequent steep fall in these prices. Therefore, it was the absence of sufficient short speculators when commodity and asset prices were rising sharply that helped widen the run up and eventual collapse in these prices.--Gary Becker

One example is virulent prejudice against a group I will call “the X’s”. There is a website with a game called “Shoot the X’s”. The X’s are trying to “suck the last bits of meat from the carcass” of society, but they are “running out of things to steal.” The X’s rig everything in their own interest: they “simply cannot lose.” Their “barefaced greed” simply “beggars belief.” They commit “blasphemy” that is “worthy of the 7th circle of hell.” “Power is concentrated in the hands of a few key” X’s, the group of which “has also proved itself brilliantly capable of enlisting the power of the state to help along the process of concentrating economic might.” At a meeting “never announced publicly,” which “included virtually everyone who was anyone” among the X’s, they achieved a further “monstrous consolidation of financial and political power.” The “burglar” X’s ethnic group “now rules the national economy.” It is now time to strike back: “put the greedy X’s in stocks.” “If you pressed a rifle into the hand of the man in the street,” he would surely choose to shoot the X’s. Who are the X’s? If the X’s were Jews, this would all sound like quotes from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In fact these quotes seem uncannily similar in general to the virulent anti-Semitism that flourished in Europe before World War II (and still flourishes in some places around the world). Some of you have probably already guessed the identity of the X’s. The X’s in the above quotes are the ”race” of financiers/bankers. You can feel prejudice against an occupationally-defined race just as much as against an ethnically-defined race (and the two often overlap because some ethnic minorities are overrepresented in some occupations).--William Easterly

The “shoot the bankers” strategy is a diversionary tactic that avoids dealing with who allowed this to happen … the FED and SEC, who are being given MORE power and MORE discretion and LESS oversight, and Congress … who were bought off by bankers and the GSEs. If I were a banker, I would say fine … have a good shout, satisfy the public, but don’t really change the rules that allow me to make lots of money while gambling with other people’s money and while enjoying a government guarantee.--anonymous

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