Saturday, March 1, 2008

Crystalizing It

From the comments section in John Robb's must-read post entitled Home to House in response to this question:
...I would agree with the point I think you make in that a shift of thinking has enabled folks to take a "just walk away" mentality, but I think it is symptomatic of a larger malaise that has been festering and growing in America for a long time.

I would ask though - where on a continuum of moral responsibility would you place the following groups (list of the usual suspects in the unfolding credit debacle)..

Mr. Robb's reply: None. It was the global marketplace at work. It turns everything into an cost/risk calculation, devoid of moral/ethical/emotional content. The market enabled an arbitrage opportunity -- the delta between the "historical moral/ethical/emotional relationship between and owner and home" and the market reality of the "cost/risk relationship between investor and house." This delta was exploited and will soon be completely eradicated. How can we blame the market for doing what markets do, if we hold it to be the best way to run our society?

Precisely. Markets are natural phenomena among social animals. The downsides to their effects need to observed the same way we observe the laws of physics.

If you smash your hand with a hammer, it will hurt you. If you allow an economy based on fiat money and fractional reserve banking to run loose of any sort of rational underwriting constraints, you will get a credit implosion.

If a big corporation closes a factory or a branch office in a city because it is not profitable enough, the papers will report to you that it is "just business". Well, considering how stupid the finance geeks were over the last decade with their lending practices, the fact that individuals are now making the same kinds of arguments shouldn't come as a surprise. But the fact that it does sickens me. Do the elites in finance and government really wake up each day completely oblivious to things like history, trends, case studies, etc.? I don't think I want to know the answer to that...

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