Boom / bust

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I don’t have an issue getting my head around the fact that the global economy appears to be collapsing around us; it seems logical that the economy is choking in proportion to the product of the frequency of the boom-bust cycle and the extent to which the previous boom ‘boomed’.

Visualise a graph of boom and bust, let’s call (a) the boom period, i.e. the length of time between the last bust and the current bust. And let’s call (b) the amplitude of the boom.

If that time is longer, the economy is going to fall a lot harder. Multiply that by the fact that, after a certain amount of boom-time, Stupid Banker People’s memories start fading, and they can no longer remember the bust, therefore throwing caution to the wind and increasing the risk of their investments – thus making the boom (b) far greater. When the boom is greater, and the boom period is greater, the resultant combination can cause exponential consequences. I say “exponential”, but it’s not true is it? The global economy will mend.

It’s really obvious if you think about it that way. Bottoms ALWAYS fall out of things. (Obviously I have a PhD in hindsight – like everyone else in the world – which is why I feel okay about framing it like this.)

I’m not sure why everyone wants an explanation.

Scarily ignorant prole on the street interviewed by BBC News 24 #1: “why should we pick up the bill for those banker people, they got themselves into the mess, why should OUR money bail them out? it’s got nothing to do with us.”

Scarily ignorant prole on the street interviewed by BBC News 24 #2: “I think it’s a disgrace, this money should go to the national health service, or something that really needs it”.

Scarily disingenuous bastard of an opposition political leader interviewed by BBC News 24 #1: “the current Prime Minister is responsible, this will be known as the “Brown Bust Era”” (true story).

How depressing.

One thing in common though: nobody wants to blame themselves.

I personally find it strangely reassuring that the economy has taken an enormous battering, and major corporations are dropping like flies. I do genuinely hope any readers don’t misunderstand my point here: I’ve no desire to see anyone suffer, be they disgustingly rich or pathetically poor, or the punters in between. Nor do I take pleasure in seeing fine upstanding historic financial institutions going under – I find it sad. Nor do I take pleasure in capitalism itself failing, per se.

The reason I find it reassuring is that, well, humanity is so greedy and destitute that I’m surprised we haven’t seen much worse to date. I’m thinking Gotham City here: widespread corruption and the rule of crime. Or an Orwellian state.

It’s just that it brings me back to what I know, what I learnt at primary school, the lessons of those GCSE readings of Lord of the Flies, the words of responsible adults who taught sensible things to me when I was young, generic sayings such as “it never pays to be greedy”. It’s the order of things that I was brought up knowing. Capitalism works, when people are relentlessly called to account.

I’m sure this is all no good to those who have to go into work for 20 hours per day, or who have no work to go into, or whose small enterprise – their lifelong dream – had to declare bankruptcy because their bank was Icelandic. Or whose American fixed rate mortgage is up for renewal. Or whose job is on the line because a decision they made 5 years ago to invest their local council’s funds in a folded bank has come back to haunt them.

I’m sure it’s no good to them what I am saying, some glib remarkster on the internet spouting righteous pap.

Honestly, I’m not like that. I’m not a righteous judgemental type. But frankly, you’ll all burn in hell.


No, I’m sure none of this comment is of use. But it should be.

Why? Because you watch Big Brother, the television show, without shuddering. You should be shuddering at the echoes of what is implied by that book. You shouldn’t find Big Brother a funny television programme to watch. That’s like wearing a poppy on November 11 and finding the whole thing a bit quaint.

And you shouldn’t go along with the media and laugh at the heroics of David Davis when he puts his job on the line for fundamental human freedoms.

I agree, it made no difference. But what the hell is the world coming to, when we simply refuse to accept a politician is doing a job because he believes in it? We whinge about how we are increasingly disaffected by politics, because politicians keep lying to us, yet when one stands up for something he truly believes in and makes an exceptionally eloquent case for his cause, we laugh him down?

I sit in my little room sometimes wondering if people have lost their minds. Are you serious you don’t mind living in a surveillance state? Are you serious you wouldn’t mind being locked up for 42 days without knowing why, how, what, who? Where your family is, what they are thinking? What you’ll do when you get out, if you get out, will you ever be able to work again? What happened to your job? If your life insurance has been invalidated?

Of course not – because it doesn’t affect you. Because you didn’t do anything wrong and it wouldn’t happen. Of course.

Just like it didn’t affect you that our financial markets weren’t regulated quite heavily enough.

It will.

And sadly the anti-terror laws have already been used against innocent people. And they wreck lives.

The frustrating thing for me is that there is a lesson to be learnt in everything, but people don’t want to learn it. Again, reader, perhaps you think this comes across as a little moralistic, but if the sudden unprecedented collapse of the global economy with no apparent warning can’t teach you something about allowing the manmade institution of government to go unchecked – that is, government who have much more power over us than corporations – then what can?

It should be very obvious that humans, when left to their own devices, when not called to account, become greedier for power and money. Given power and money are fundamental necessities in society, at least the way we do it now, it makes sense that we continue towards a goal of increasing regulation. This can be seen as working towards the epitome of societal sophistication.

I guess what I’m coming to, albeit in a meandering and somewhat streams-of-consciousness kind of way, is that I am a fan of regulation. Regarding our financial system, I think we Brits had it almost right, actually. Perhaps a little tightening of existing financial law, and a whole lot more power to the executive regulatory bodies, and we’d be pretty good. Wait, did I mention using our combined non-transatlantic relations to put an immense amount of pressure on the American government to reform political financial policy across the water? Yes – that would be the only other thing we could do.


(Note, this little diatribe started off as a rant against American people, it went something like this:

“Wow. There seems to have galvanised an enormous amount of hatred for Sen. Barack Obama within the last week. It’s incredible how gullible people* can be with a little negative political marketing.”

* I had to stop myself saying “The Americans”, because sadly it’s true of the stupid Brits as well.)


One Response

  1. Stacey Derbinshire

    October 10, 2008 4:30 am

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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