Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Passing The Buck

I suppose it was inevitable. The rest of the World is lining up to blame the US for this recent worldwide economic crisis. In that all of us were willing participants in the Ponzi scheme of making more money from money that did not exist in the first place, I would say the blame can be shared by most if not all the big players. They all got on the greed train with us. Just because we led the charge, does not mean they had to follow. Where is their ownership of responsibility?

Remember the 1980s and Japan's rise to super economic engine and how everyone envied their status? Remember how many US companies attempted to bring in the Japanese corporate model and how it wouldn't work with the mindset we have in this country? Then Japan stumbled. During their recovery, one thing they did was they began to outsource their jobs to cheaper labor markets. Wow. Seems they were following the US model after all.

That was the beginning of the end of in country economies. Of course there had been inter-dependence for years, but nothing like what took on a head of steam in the 1990's. Suddenly, everyones economy depended more and more on the economy of other countries. This went on through the 1990s with mutual dependence taking on more of the responsibility of keeping all of us afloat. A ripple created in Sri Lanka would build to a real wave in Singapore, which would then be passed to Japan or to the US.

The signals were there people. Our world leaders in government and business chose to ignore them. And now it is all the USA's fault. Right.

You know, I am sick and tired of being the World's scapegoat. I actually look forward to the day when we can blame some other country for all our self inflicted troubles. There is a lot to blame the US for. But in the scheme of who really should bear the brunt, it seems to me all these countries participated of their own free will. That they blame someone else is just passing the buck.

I do not consider myself more than average intelligent. I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of high finance or the inner workings of multi-national corporations. But one thing I do notice is when the power shifts from one entity to another. I wonder if our current troubles are not directly related to how much power the huge corporations, financial and producing, have gathered over the last fifteen years. It seems that countries everywhere have ceded entirely too much power to these huge corporations. Regulations of all kinds have been dropped or ignored as each country romanced these companies trying to lure them to set up shop. By giving them basically free run of the country, that is what the companies did, they took what they could and moved on. All the while building false images of how solid their corporate model was. And because every country was eager to get their piece of the pie, any vetting done before they set up shop was often only a token gesture.

In my opinion, the World has given up power to the pursuit of money. Ideologies have been pushed to the side or tweaked to accommodate the new economic models (China). All in the pursuit of creating a more comfortable existence for them and their population. The line between government and the private sector has blurred to the point where in many countries it is hard to tell the difference.

So get off this blame the US crap. You idiots in the rest of the World wanted what we have. Now that you have it, you are blaming us. Give me a break.

An afterthought or maybe a request - This is my opinion based on my pitiful knowledge of the over all situation. I would welcome input as to where I may be off target or hey even on target.

Keep it 'tween the ditches..............

(647 / 15,025)


BBC said...
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PresterJohn said...

Don't know if you're on the money or not, Crummy.

But one thing is clear to me ... have yet to see even one progressive policy offering from the current administration. Not one. Just more of our money that we don't got dumped on these dead men walking banks 'n corporations.

Obama desperate for a first win caved to the banking royalists. Some change.

MRMacrum said...

PresterJohn - Well, I don't have high hopes the stimulus efforts will work. But I think it is way too soon to declare Obama the same old same old. He has already been more active and productive in his first month than most any president I can remember. If nothing else, the combination of serious crisis and his efforts should give all of us s show worth watching. I really think he will shake things up. He already has and it has not even been a month into it yet.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I wonder if our current troubles are not directly related to how much power the huge corporations, financial and producing, have gathered over the last fifteen years. It seems that countries everywhere have ceded entirely too much power to these huge corporations. Regulations of all kinds have been dropped or ignored as each country romanced these companies trying to lure them to set up shop. By giving them basically free run of the country, that is what the companies did, they took what they could and moved on.

Very interesting point, Crum. These several lines in your post reminded me of something I read recently, which I'll compress here:

During the 1930's, when there was a huge wave of bank failures, the aggregate of American banks' balance sheets was 50% of US GDP. (In other words, the value of the assets held by American banks was half the size of the USA's annual economic output.)

In 2008, the aggregate of American banks' balance sheets was 150% of US GDP. Stop and think about how big the US economy was in 2008, compared to the 1930's, even after accounting for inflation. Scary, isn't it?

But it gets worse: in 2008, the aggregate of British banks' balance sheets was - wait for it - 400% of the UK's GDP.

The words gargantuan, Leviathan, Goliath, behemoth and monster come to mind.

But it gets worse again: just what kinds of assets were on the books of these banks? Junk assets based on derivatives with huge risk lurking beneath the surface. Your house of cards photo is a good analogy.

I am sorry to say that the whole thing started in America, but you are quite right that other countries, especially Britain and Germany (and perhaps others whose banking system troubles have yet to come to light), jumped on to the out-of-control financial system train as quickly as they could. Hell, the banks in the UK make the USA's look like Super Blue Chips.

And this is another reason why the bailouts and the stimulus packages being passed by countries around the world are bad moves. The only way they can be funded is through artificial and massive currency creation, or new debt. Both roads lead to trouble. We'd all be better off pulling back and dealing with rough times for two or three years, and recovering on a base not made of quicksand.

Our children and grandchildren will curse us for the debt we are leaving them.

MRMacrum said...

El Cerdo Ignatius - Yes, I do not doubt it was US Financial Einsteins who came up with this new way to make money out of nothing. But I just do not get the mentality of someone who chooses to go off the cliff with us, and then says it is somehow our fault they followed our lead. Aren't these people supposed to be smart?

Anecdotal evidence is starting to pile up that many within the financial and corporate network were at the least sending warning memos many years ago. They were either fired or ignored. I do not know why, but the movie, "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" keeps popping up in my head.

Randal Graves said...

I for one am not willing to stand idly by while you throw our innovations of evil on the pyre, dammit, sir!

USA #1 and such.

@el cerdo, you know damn well the next batch of quicksand will be extra quick. If we've learned anything about humanity, it's our unwillingness to learn. ;-)

Linda McGeary said...

Yes, we have abdicated our responsibility, in order to follow after the greed machine of the Oligarchy. Certainly not everyone, that's far to broad a statement. But we were all seduced by the dollar signs in their eyes, telling us we could all have it all.
My husband has a blog, The Best Minimum Wage Job a Middle Aged Guy Ever Had. He talks about these things too. You sound a lot alike.
People who don't like Obama will never give him credit, he could save the world and it wouldn't be enough.
They are bleeders, and they don't want to be healed, they just want to blame.
It's hard to take responsibility, even when you see how it could actually help change things. But to do that is to admit to a wrong in the first place and that is really hard.
So, I'm with you. Let's quite the blame game and take our heads out of the sand and look around for ways to make things better.
Start at home.
In town.
In state.
In the country.
Let's try to listen to each other, without shouting any suggestion down.
I appricate your thoughts MRMacrum.

Demeur said...

There was a large shift in thinking some years back. The shift started as both parents started to work and had to leave the kids at daycare. With that subconscious guilt parents created the "Me" generation. That would be us. Things only got worse as we followed and passed on our own example. In order to satisfy the wants of our kids we worked sometimes two and three jobs as well as borrowed against our homes to provide them a better education in hopes that they could just keep pace.
The movie Wall Street comes to mind when I think of the present spawn. They seem to forget that our parents worked for many years to get a house and car in the drive. We in turn had to work and had two incomes just to get the basics. With no other alternative we had to borrow against the house. Something you couldn't do in our parents day. There were no equity lines of credit.
Now America is realizing that a bunch of things will not make their lives better or make them feel happy.
The rest of the world was duped just like us. Try reading the terms of a credit card if you don't believe me. And these dirivatives were beyond comprehension even by those that sold them.
The final straw was when the foreign nations decided to cash out only there was nothing there. Like the ponzi scheme it was it was just paper.
The real issue here is not praise or blame but how much bad paper the banks hold and what to do about it. The criminal charges can come later. Then there's the rest of the economy to get moving.

MRMacrum said...

Randal - It is interesting that while twe continue to make the same mistakes time and time again, the World does indeed change around us. It forces our hand eventually and makes us pay attention. Once the bozos have worn themselves out looking for someone to blame, they will maybe get back to productive efforts. But it really doesn't matter, The World will continue to turn.

Linda McGreary - Absolutely. What we have is self inflicted. Things like this recent recession always are. Here we have a President who recognizes this and wants to right the ship and people think he is whacko. I don't get it. What's whacko is continuing down the same path we have been on for 25 years at the least.He may not get it right, but at least Obama knows we have to shift gears.

Demeur - Excellent comment. I could not agree more. It has taken a long time to reach this point. What is frustrating is so many people think our troubles are only a few years old.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

having been around a few years, I have perhaps a better perspective on the cycle of economies, and the expresson "what goes around, comes around" springs to mine. For the last 20-25 years we have (the national economy that is to say) been spending more than it makes, the people wanting instant gratification, were given crdit cards with ever expanding limits,houses were made available with loans of nothing down, only interest payments, afterall real estate only goes up in price right? Well I don't need to tell ya whats happening, ---so here we all are counting what monies we have, and being very reluctant to spend it----as the economy slows down, and down, waiting for some signs of leveling out and maybe then starting afresh. Its not quite "Brother can ya spare a dime" time as it was in the great depression, its just a downturn that the current generation never thought could happen---a fresh breeze of perhaps saving for a rainy day kind of thinking is permeating the financial community right down to the street level. Its a good thing---people are looking hard at just what and where they spend their money---looking for real value----I like it.