Warum gibt es etwas und nicht nichts? (Why is there something rather than nothing?) - Leibniz

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wise after the event

I'm stung into a rant by an article I've just read. A classic example of mainstream journalist wisdom here - and only one of very many similar now available, I'm sure.

I'm don't know what the economics editor of one of the UK's most successful papers earns, but I'd be happy for him to earn double if he could tell us all this "it was so obvious" stuff BEFORE the crisis.

Not that it couldn't have been foreseen. In the late 90s, I was so concerned at US debts and the massive zoom in tech stocks driving the FTSE and Dow into the stratosphere, and so apprehensive of what I thought would be the inevitable aftermath, that I warned clients not to get into the frenzy, reminded them they had an option to switch into cash, moved my wife's pension savings into cash, and (despite the awfulness of modern British schools) resumed teaching as well as holding onto the financial advice business.

Am I wise? No, I listened to what many others were saying, and wasn't blinded by greed. But I wouldn't have learned it from the papers.

And the smugness! "Above all, the current crisis will force us to relearn one of the oldest lessons of all, one from neither the Seventies nor the Thirties but the wisdom of the centuries: that what you owe, you must one day repay." The credit bubble was created by banks, permitted by regulators and governments, and exploited by financial engineers and intermediaries - yet it is the private debtor and the taxpayer that will pay. Don't hold your breath waiting to see unemployed bankers selling the Big Issue.


Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

The term "short and curlies" springs to mind.

Wolfie said...

Pretty much a summary of my own thoughts over the period. Do people never learn I wonder?