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I'd prefer:

Economics is politics, money and accounting are about power, and banking is part of political planning about who has the power to get things done.

The conceptual metaphor "money is a thing" (specifically, a gold coin) is particularly damaging in this setting. Politically, fiat money and expansionary fiscal policy means "if you have a worthy project you won't have to stay idle", whereas hard money means "you can only do what I tell you to".

Or what I allow you to - because the ability to block constructive and useful effort is as much a part of the syndrome as the ability to sponsor it.

This is what I was implying earlier about business plans. For example in energy, some forms of energy get subsidies, while others - especially renewables - are considered inherently unserious, and don't. Therefore finance models for renewables have to be more precise, the risk analysis has to be absolutely cast-iron, and so on. While other modes - like nuclear - get a pass.

And all this because the financial industry has a bias against certain kinds of activity, and a bias towards other kinds of activity.

The rationalisations that support these arbitrary decisions use the rhetoric of risk analysis and the rest. But the reality is that the industry simply likes certain kinds of activity more than it likes other kinds, for reasons that are either irrational or sociopathically self-interested.

So while Jake thinks banks aren't so bad akshually, I think banking in its current form is an epic disaster on the scale of the Black Death or a major natural catastrophe.

For two reasons:

The first is that perfectly reasonable - and welcome - kinds of activity are vetoed in favour of other activities that are stupid and self-destructive. The industry's record of failure on this is absolutely reliable.

The other is that instead of preventing and minimising risk, banks actually create it - in obvious ways through asset inflation that destabilises productive economies, through speculation, and by vetoing efforts towards stable and productive activity.

So you have the paradox - or the Big Lie - of an industry which claims to be engaged in strategic risk management for everyone's benefit, but which is actually the primary creator of risk and social insolvency.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 05:51:02 PM EST
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