Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Arthur Silber, whom I read fairly often,

but I doubt if I've ever quoted, says (and I'm quoting the same section FNN quoted):
A major part (perhaps the major part) of the U.S. economy has treated debts as assets for a long time. The best and brightest made it appear sophisticated and smart: they took debts and securitized them, chopped them up, repackaged them, recombined them, splintered them some more, repackaged and sold those, and on and on it went. This process doesn't turn nothing into something: it spreads the nothing among more and more institutions and makes the entire system increasingly vulnerable. Everyone pretends that the nothing is backed by something, but it isn't. To be more precise, as in the case of Fannie and Freddie, for example, there is $1 of something for every $80 of nothing. In fact, there's much more nothing, when you add in the repackaging, recombining, splintering, selling and reselling. That's a lot of nothing, and almost no something.

This is how con games work. Your parents probably explained this to you, many years ago. You forgot, or you didn't believe it. Believe it now.

There's more there about where we're at. Go read it.

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