Aug

17

 The drumbeat continues in Congress, on the networks, the net, and in our most prominent journals: save the poor person who finds himself upside down on his mortgage or unable to meet his rescheduled payment. The same mortgage he couldn't initially afford but which a banker (or other grasping facilitator) created is now more unaffordable. Ideally, these people should be standing there wailing "What was I thinking?" Instead (because this is the American Dream we're talking about), more salvation promises are being brought forth than the most ambitious evangelist could ever hope for.

It's just not fair that these poor souls who in many case told outright lies about their finances to get these loans. Nor is it fair to the bankers or brokers who, with a wink and a nod, laid out the necessary cash. No, these are great inequities and they're getting plenty of play. Deliver us from evil.

The real villain in this case is Alan Greenspan and a host of other financial types who aided and abetted this fraud. The great lie, told over and over and over again, ran like this: "The derivatives markets pass on risk to those most able to afford it." Now we have money market funds both here and in Europe unable to meet withdrawal requests. Money market funds are not magnets for risk takers' funds — they were designed and marketed as safe havens for the idle capital of those preferring to avoid risk.

So the people currently getting burned are not the heroic risk takers, but the real engines of capitalism: the savers. For years this group accepted (because it had no choice) trivial interest on substantial sums. The argument put forward by Bernanke and others was that this existed because of a worldwide "savings glut."

Sure, the citizens of a handful of countries saved handsomely. But as figures showed month-in and month-out, the industrialized countries of the world, remarkable for their aversion to saving, continued to print more and more currency. Easy money, easy lending, easy fees. Reserve standards were relaxed, lending requirements were eased, and the administration of the largest non-central-bank creators of money in the world, Fannie and Freddie, were left to the benevolent oversight of politicians.

Spare me the debtors' lament. What they've lost, or are in danger of losing, wasn't theirs to begin with. What savers have lost was theirs, and they are being overlooked once again. And if their deposit happens to exceed the uninsured maximum, well, that's not only too bad, but also shows a terrible lack of good sense.


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