Saturday, March 20, 2010

The ideological errors of capitalism IV - Made offs

Moral: Wherein we consider that the ideological problems, namely shell games, unconscionable exploitation of Adam Smith, and the Ca-pital-sino, are not sufficient. We need others (as it is of detriment of the people).

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Which are? Let's take just one. That the Madoffs (made-offs), and the Ponzis, are the real representatives of capitalism. They promise riches, exhort us to labor for gains and glories, and pilfer the till.

Of yes, there are others. We get those captains of industry, too, with enormous pockets who seem to be at the edge of legality. Or, if they stay from that edge, they're near some ethical (moral) edge. But, who cares about that?

The underlying nature of the current scheme, especially as exhibited by the equity markets, is taking profit at the top from the loads of money brought in by new suckers. And, this is called 'profit' as if such gains could be considered reward for real effort.

It was interesting to watch the recent inflation of the market. Yes, thanks to Ben, and those he muscled, there was oodles of money allowed via low interest, special loans (oh yes, Ben, like the confessional, never known publicly), purchase of toxic waste from idiots, and more. This money went to the inflation of the market, not to building anything of substance.

At the same time, real prices have been deflating. Businesses couldn't get loans. The jobless remain such. There are a slew of things that aren't right, folks.

Now, the whole mechanism (from which comes the mania) is supported by a vast informational framework consisting of analysts, reporters, and naive administrators, like Timothy (little Timmy) and runs for 6 1/2 hours, in the use, on five days a week. Thankfully, we do get a respite from the mania for two days a week, and the occasional holiday. Yet, one could very well imagine that the gaming never ends for some.

No wonder things get frothy (thanks, Minsky, for showing us what Ben ought to look at).

Business Week recently reviewed a book detailed how Markopolos tried to get people to think correctly about Madoff's scheme. The book describes the hubris of expecting something for nothing. In fact, that some notion of in-crowd status (which was one of Madoff's lures) predominated shows just how deeply these pilfering mechanisms are within the capitalistic scheme.

So, 'fat cat' attainment is our primary goal, people?

Plenty have commented to the review. Some of the comments mention that there are plenty of such schemes, namely Ponzi, that we accept as normal.

One example, as we all know, is that Social Security has been taking money from workers for years in the guise of providing retirement funding to these same workers. These monies were then expropriated by the US in exchange for IOUs which are now coming due.

So, who is going to fund the IOUs needed by Social Security to handle the influx of the boomers?

The basic economic issue is that future payments are always expected to be based upon some current set of assumptions and an economic framework to build something that will pay. Then, we expect there to be sufficiently stability for the payout to come to fruition.

But, we've let a whole bit of notions, like leverage, to warp the model. At one time, loans were based upon collateral. If the loan could not be paid, at least, the lender could get something from the collateral. Yet, there is a premise there, to boot, about the collateral being of value sufficient to cover the loan. Leverage can allow speculative malfeasance of sorts.

Operational modes, related to proper valuation, due diligence, and the like, were learned by hard lessons. Yet, these always seem so easily forgotten in the heat of the equity frenzy.

One reason that the equity mania seems to take hold is that the ponzi-like nature is hidden. Rather than this (the market) being a mechanism to build for the future, it becomes a get-rich scheme. That is, we get to the Ponzi-like, almost by necessity.

Many see the problem, but any attempt at rectification gets bogged down in rhetoric which is probably a natural outcome, politically.

Too, there are other types of malefactors (bond big-rigging) out there.

So, what are the guys like Big Ben and Timmy supposed to do? We'll get to that.

Remarks:

02/28/2011 -- Bernie has lessons for us.

04/27/2010 -- Need to add the political set of truths, such as cat and mouse.

04/16/2010 -- Rotten to the core. Does not have to be!!

03/21/2010 -- Read about Timmy: Atlantic ("Would it have been better to have the stock market where it was in March, the economy still falling, and unemployment much higher?” -- huh?), New Yorker, ...

03/20/2010 -- Big Ben says that bailing out the big banks was (or is it is?) 'unconscionable' yet was this not what he did?

Modified: 02/28/2011

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