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Today I feel like I am reaching my own personal point of saturation with bad news relating to the Big Financial Meltdown.

Not that I am about to panic, no way. It’s just that there is so much of it, and it is coming through so fast, that I feel that the initial “edge” has been taken off it. It does not seem quite so appalling anymore. I am coming to terms with it.

I am familiar with this feeling. A long time ago the country I have strong ties with started opening up its archives and started sharing details of its horrible past with its citizens. And we gorged ourselves on the gory details of mass murders, betrayals, poverty and the limitless lust for power of our leaders until we could take no more bad news. We felt low and worthless as a people, and every trouble that was coming to us was just and fair because we deserved no better. People competed in painting their own nation in the blackest colours possible – this became a sick national obsession for a while. Then the information we learnt about our past became part of the everyday life and either faded away, or caused a backlash in aggressive patriotic feeling which is still rife.

So, the Credit Crunch. The Big Meltdown. It’s easy to get obsessive with it. It’s easy to look for someone to take the blame and then kick them. I’ll offer this thought for your consideration: we are all responsible to some extent. Sure enough, many of our governments fanned the fires of irresponsible lending with abandon. Bankers greedily chased quick profits and drove their own employers’ firms into the ground in the process – and I would love to see them in court and their assets confiscated. And regulators failed miserably to spot the rot. Sure, the trust in “government bodies” has gone and might not return for a long time, if ever.

But we all gorged ourselves on consumer credit, plunged our money into investments that were bound to go up-up-up and never-ever stop, buy ever bigger houses etc. We all lost our heads. And no-one really thought that it looked too good to be true and would end. Perhaps we should have. We might all have been, to some extent, part of the problem.

We are where we are and life carries on. So however the meltdown crisis impacts us personally, and I am sure it can be bad and it might get worse, we need to accept it, get on with it and make do as best we can. I’ve read some wonderful thoughts in other blogs putting the current calamity in perspective by considering how people survived the Great Depression. Something similar might yet come – but people lived to tell the tale. We will as well.

And one day future students will be tasked to write an essay “The 2008 Global Financial Meltdown. Discuss the relative merit of available solutions in 2000 words“.

 

Copyright 2008 by CuriouslyInspired

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I stumbled across a great article this morning which explains very well how Central banks (the Fed, the Bank of England, etc) operate on the money markets to inject liquidity into the system in order to stabilise it. This prompted me to consider the bigger question why money and credit is important in an economy.

Central banks and monetary policy: Typically Central banks aspire to maintain a certain target interest rate, and tighten credit (reduce it) when rates are too low, or increase the money supply when the rate is too high when rates are too high. This does not mean printing money: purely issuing notes and coins without reference to economic conditions can and does lead to inflation which, when excessive, is very damaging to the economy (it is outside the scope of this note to consider what is deemed “excessive” or what drives inflation in the first place, although some degree of inflation seems inevitable and healthy). Instead Central banks buy or sell short term Treasury bonds to primary banks (the likes of Goldman Sachs) to manipulate liquidity.

Central banks thus influence available credit through its dealings with primary banks and not small regional banks. If primary banks ceased to exist, e.g. if they went bust, Central banks would lose this existing tool of influencing available total money in the economy.   Read the rest of this entry »

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