Bubbles without borders

Frank - Eastsound, Washington
Entered on November 30, 2008

I believe in speculative bubbles.

I believe in worldwide Ponzi schemes and universal gullibility. I believe that reckless lending can be cured by reckless borrowing and that fraudulent borrowing can be healed by fraudulent lending. I believe that a housing bubble fueled by loose credit can be corrected by easing credit. I believe that trillions of hallucinated dollars can disappear in a puff of Wall Street smoke, then reappear magically from behind a Treasury Department mirror.

I believe that America’s financial geniuses and monetary officials can destroy wealth indiscriminately and indefinitely. I believe that people who cause catastrophes should benefit and that suffering should be shifted to unrelated bystanders.

I believe that our prosperity can be guaranteed through the delusional actions of insolvent institutions. I believe that central banks can print all the money we will ever need. I believe that if one stimulus package doesn’t work, the next one will.

I believe in financial complexity. I believe that hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds should enter into incomprehensible investments having convoluted ownership and no inherent value. And I believe that opaque, secretive companies should pretend to insure those investments.

I believe that foreigners will always lend us the money for retail imports to decorate our lives, however briefly, before we dump our imported trinkets in America’s landfills.

I believe we should create a national museum, the Museum of American Credit, in lower Manhattan. The museum would honor an age that will soon pass from living memory, a wondrous golden age in which the hapless, the feckless, and the malignantly self-indulgent could receive mind-boggling sums of money, just by asking for them. I believe that the Museum of American Credit should pay tribute to debt obligations collateralized and to credit swaps defaulted. It should be a monument to a time when credulity was unbounded, when the oceans teemed with leverage and the skies swarmed with debt, when giant mortgages roamed the earth and tiny, fearful incomes hid beneath Hummers.

I believe that economic stability and confidence will return when every failing business is bailed out, with no failure left behind. I believe we should consolidate all dying institutions, merging the smaller basket cases progressively until, in the end, there is only one institution left, comprehensively unified, far too big to fail, owning everything and controlling everyone.

In short, I believe in the unbelievable. You might as well believe in it, too.