Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Financial Bloodbath

We din't see it coming. Or may be we did, but we were in denial. What a shocker this was? But was it? Lehman Brothers, one of the biggest investment bankers of our times collapsed yesterday. And how?

NYtimes thinks, today it would be AIG. The biggest Insurance company. AIG has already been downgraded by Moody to it's lowest ever.

Has excessive Greed finally caught on Capitalism? Should we now move to more government regulations as Obama and his campaign managers have already started suggesting? I don't know. But it makes sense to keep a balance for sure. (If I was Obama, btw, I would be very happy with timing of this news. Palinmania, was clearly shifting the sand under him since last two weeks. This Wall Street Bloodbath, should surely help him provide effective argument against Republican capitalism. Let's see how that cow is milked now)

Coming back to my earlier question though- is "evil" Capitalism finally finding it's nemesis? Has uncalibrated greed, made free market Capitalism a failed philosophy?

Before I write obituaries on Capitalism, let me put it this way - if Capitalism as a system is bad, should I move towards Socialism and may be it's more aggressive brother Communism? Meaning, if I loose all my money currently stocked in Fidelity,Chase etc( who knows they may collapse too), should I move to Venezuela ( a socialist dictator's nation) or to China (a Commie Giant) ?

I am thinking NO for now. You know why? Coz, Capitalism as a system has flaws.And when I chose to be a part of it, I knew it (or should have known it) had. No one was putting a gun on me to be a part of this "flawed" system. And what we are seeing today is, one of it's design flaws getting exposed. Now I have a choice. To become an eternal skeptic, like Michael Moore and Bill Maher, and whine about how bad capitalism is and how we are all doomed for ever, while sipping on a nice beer in an Air conditioned room watching the latest Hollywood movie or NFL game on my Plasma, or think hard. A little hard. Does capitalism system with all it's flaws, has a chance to bounce back?

Or more importantly, does a combination of Capitalism and Democracy have a chance to bounce back from this massive setback? Does the US ogre have the capacity to dust off it's butt and bounce back and walk again? Does the checks and balances mechanism work?

I would like to take a brief vacation from cynicism and I would go for later theory - believing that it *does* have a capacity to rebound, like it it did post Enron or post 2001 bubble burst. I mean, I would certainly like to believe that China with it's water tight control over all banks and hard wired regulations is certainly "safer" than the greedy un regulated banks of USA. Or for that matter since Chavez of Venezeula has nationalized everything in sight in his small hapless nation, we should all move to that great socialist "paradise". But I am thinking no. Crisis, keep coming. What's important is, do we as a people, as a system have that ability to re calibrate, recode, regroup to bounce back. Does the system we are in allows us enough leverage to correct it's flaws?

If the answer is yes, I feel it's a rational argument to stick back. Take a deep breath, take a few steps back and re-code the broken piece, rather than just pulverize the whole system itself and say we are Doomed. Leave that job to Bill Maher or as Greeks would say to Cassandra.

I am no blind supporter of USA or Capitalism per se. I don't pretend they are flawless. I am very well aware of their flaws. And, I, as a responsible semi-citizen am equally accountable for it's problems as I myself have made a choice to be a part of this "flawed" system. Nobody forced me to. (Like nobody forced lower middle class people who could not afford to buy mansions at sub prime rates. They were "incentive-ized" alright, but they got themselves into the black hole, like some people going to Las Vegas casinos do)

My problem is I am equally aware of the "other" or alternative systems around the world that are currently looking at me and my professional home (the USA) with a sarcastic - SEE-I-TOLD-YOU-SO look. And I am telling them in my mind, nah.. sorry, enjoy your sarcastic laugh for all you want to.. you are still wishing down in your heart somewhere.. "I should have been there.."

*******

P.S : I am currently reading an excellent book called - "The Geography of Bliss". And this book is what I was looking for since a while. Written by Eric Weiner, of National Public Radio. The book is making a lot of sense to me. More on it later.

1 comment:

Amit said...

I don't think China is a communist country anymore - at least, not when it comes to their business model. It's a state-run capitalism.