Thursday, November 27, 2008

Committing economic murder

Charlie and Driftglass both beat Spot to this one. That's to be expected, of course, especially Driftglass, since the subject matter is Tom Friedman of the New York Times. Friedman's latest navel gazing involves Assigning Moral Responsibility for the economic crack up we're experiencing. Here's the money quote:

So many people were in on it: People who had no business buying a home, with nothing down and nothing to pay for two years; people who had no business pushing such mortgages, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business bundling those loans into securities and selling them to third parties, as if they were AAA bonds, but made fortunes doing so; people who had no business rating those loans as AAA, but made a fortunes doing so; and people who had no business buying those bonds and putting them on their balance sheets so they could earn a little better yield, but made fortunes doing so. [italics are Spot's]

Looking down from Mt. Olumpus*, Tom, it's probably hard to tell all these economic murderers apart. Let Spot help. Refer to your own words that Spot has italicized.

If "[p]eople who had no business buying a home" were "in on it" as you say, theirs was a crime of passion: wanting to own a home. The brokers said they were qualified, after all. And haven't we all been taught that home ownership, like cleanliness, is next to godliness? It's interesting that Tom puts these people first on the list. Maybe he was just thinking chronologically.

But if these people committed crimes of passion, the rest of the suspects on Tom's list are serial killers. For profit. They're the ones who made fortunes doing so.

Maybe Tom is right. But to Spot there is a qualitative difference between the person who just wanted to be a homeowner and the string of jackals who cashed in on the desire.

* Spot does know how to spell Olympus.

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