Sunday, February 01, 2009

The banking crisis: did we have a choice?

Could any of the leading nations have retained their moral fibre during the monetary inflation of the last decade and more? Wouldn't prudent, restrained lenders have lost out to foreign sellers of "liar" and "fog a mirror" loans? Wouldn't the currency have risen and crippled exports? Could considerations like this form part of the "don't shoot me" defence of our busted banks and discredited politicians?

Or would it have been a trial by fire, where the virtuous are rewarded at the end? Denninger: "It is also increasingly clear that there are literally hundreds of midsize and smaller banks that are perfectly fine. They did not lever up, they did not write a bunch of crap commercial or residential construction paper that cannot be serviced and they most certainly did not drink the KoolAid of securitized synthetic garbage debt. Even in bad economic times traditional banking is a very profitable business - so long as you lend money to people who can pay you back or you have sufficient collateral so that if they default you don't lose your shirt."

In which case, the original offence of reckless finance has been compounded by the failure to punish it. The bailouts whisk away the deserved reward of the good, and teach a hugely damaging lesson to all onlookers: you can Get Away With It.

Of course, you can't - or rather society can't, though individuals will. And when injustice finally falls, it will take down with it many of the good, the poor and the powerless.

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