Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Alan Greenspan can suck my... Manifesto

Wall Street is homogeneous. The problem with this is that when something is wrong nobody notices. Everyone went to the same ten universities, took the same classes and thinks in pretty much the same way. So when someone like Enron creates a dummy company that buys all of the parent companies bad assets for absurd prices and manipulates profits to increase stock value, nobody thinks, “That’s fucking psychotic!” They all think, “That’s an interesting bookkeeping trick. Why didn’t I think of that?” The major consequence of this is simple: there is zero self-regulation.

This doesn’t immediately make everyone on Wall Street nefarious. It just means they’re human and human beings need regulation. We regulate driving procedure with stop signs and stop lights and highway patrolmen. This is a world of laws. Even Milton Friedman admits, "However attractive anarchy may be as a philosophy, it is not feasible in a world of imperfect men." Why aren’t businessmen held responsible the same way an ordinary person is? If I can get pulled over for reckless endangerment in a car, why can’t bankers and CEOs be held accountable for reckless endangerment with other peoples’ money?

Since the Reagan administration, there has been an active effort to deregulate the financial industry. Things like the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act (of 1999) are just some examples of the growing belief amongst those in power that the invisible hand of capitalism will keep industries in line. These ideals were driven mainly by a certain Alan Greenspan.

Alan Greenspan became chairman of the Federal Reserve in 1987. For the following 19 years, Greenspan was arguably the most powerful man in America. The Fed, over this period became increasingly autonomous, allowing Greenspan to manipulate interests rates and the money supply freely. Greenspan did as he felt and this bothered no one because he seemed to know what he was doing. He encouraged deregulation; he made money easy to get, and in doing so, he ultimately created a bubble. The worrisome part of this is that nobody said, “Mr. Greenspan, aren’t you creating a bubble?” The reason no one said this was because the people in a position to say something like that all thought the same way as Greenspan; there was no debate on what the Fed’s policies should be.

The theme here is that the in the world of business and economics there is no debate because everyone is like-minded. I suppose that it attracts only a very specific kind of person. This is where Alan Greenspan can suck my… comes into play. I have nothing in common with business people. I grew up middle class; I got a C in macroeconomics and I only showed up a few times. I am by all means an outsider. This allows me to look at Wall Street issues in a way that Wall Street folk can’t. When I see something as insane as Enron’s dummy company I don’t just accept it as an accounting trick; I yell angrily. I hope that Alan Greenspan can suck my… is a place where I and anyone else can yell angrily about the nonsense that the Wall Street Journal accepts.

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