Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free Market to Pollies: We dont want you!

The meltdown of world financial markets has been headlined in the news to the max over the last couple of weeks and the prequel to it has been simmering for more than a year.

Massive collapses of Sub Prime related lenders like Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns and a whole host of other major lenders have bitten the dust. Some have been "rescued" by the US Fed and some have simply died a natural death. They took the risk, so they should therefore die by their own sword.

Unfortunately these lenders are not being allowed to die a natural death. Uncle Sam is getting involved, in a big way, and that will be a big problem sometime in the future.

Much finger pointing from the left of the political sphere that the "failure of true capitalism" or "the free market" is the fault of the free marketeers and their greed and it just goes to show that capitalism doesn't work.

That is rubbish of course and nothing could be further from the truth.

Capitalism or the free market in its current form hasn't been allowed to be free from interference from Governments the world over, and as we scramble to yet another taxpayer bailout of private investors and publicly listed companies we see the same sort of interference that has brought the whole credit market down, begin all over again.

The facts are that bad lending was forced on lenders by Congress back in the 1980s:

Congress set up processes (Research the Community Redevelopment Act) whereby community activist groups and organizers could effectively stop a bank's efforts to grow if that bank didn't make loans to unqualified borrowers.

Real Clear Politics


This has led to the current and inevitable blow out that we are now experiencing.

Rather unsurprisingly two of the first lenders to go were the State backed Fannie and Freddie, now laughingly called Feddy because it is now fully State owned.

Ironically, Fannie Mae was set up in the 1930s as a State antidote to the crazy lending of the 1920s, the stockmarket crash in 1929 and the depression of the 1930s to lend money to the "secondary mortgage market" (sounds familiar doesn't it). Freddie Mac was set up by the Federal Government in the 1970s when Fannie was privatised but Fannie still had Federal input.

Even more bizarrely, New Zealand politicians from the left are contemplating setting up our own sub prime mess by allowing people who cant afford to borrow to buy houses the ability to borrow money with the help from the State.

Will we ever learn?

The free market must be left to function perfectly as it would if left alone. That is, those that take risks either benefit from those risks or lose their shirts, that is how a free market truly works.

Until politicians keep their sticky little interfering fingers out of that free market we will continue to experience economic meltdowns of the wonderful variety that we are currently grasping to fully understand.

I can hardly wait for the "carbon trading" collapse.


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