Even though there is more financial–specifically banking and insurance–information out there, I fear there is a moral feedback loop when it comes to our reporting on our the banking industry in its throes of–what? death? it sheds violently billions of dollars and perhaps millions of jobs (hence, millions of people). What I mean to say is, I can hardly make head or tail of this the economic downturn”w I read of, a “recession” in whose throes of –what? death? rebirth? both?–we are. Simplistic me (am Taurean, my astrological friends would say, thriving on objective routines) I want answers to the moral question. “Who are the villains?” I ask, and I wind up further confused and somewhat discouraged. [This is merely an indication that–after a good rest–I need to read more about it.]
It appears to un-econ-educated me that the sheriffs and the outlaws of this economic crisis are one and the same. Sure, there were chislers and writers of outrageous policies. Laws were passed under Democratic (thanks, Bill!) and Republican sponsorship. Along with the con-men who ran away with half of many old folks’ pensions, were bank examiners, realtors, bureaucrats, regular moms and pops, your neighbor, etc. Everyone, some of the story goes, is to blame.
Secretary of the Treaury Timothy Geithner today claimed that the result of the “stress-tests” that banks underwent would lead to exactly what I’m asking for here: clarity–transparency, a lack of confusion. But to my earshe sounded scared when he said it .
So when I read about Eric Schmidt, C.E.O. of Google coming under scrutiny for being possibly an “antitrust devil” I was bemused: these two companies are like coal and railroads and steel were to the robber barons a hundred years ago. Those guys played golf together, drank together, lived in the same social circles, and at work created a whole new way of creating and using knowledge. Of course the new industrialists are going to sit on each other’s boards: their industries are allied (mutually interested) as was Carnegie’s with Pullman’s and J.P. Morgan’s with them both.
I’ve seen my shares of Google and Apple rise steadily since March, and it almost seems (but again, I’m a markets ignoramous) that these two are really driving the markets. In fact,the piece winds up like a Google advert (again like Mel Gibson, I know), talking about how investing during the current downtime will power the company into the future. So much information, and no good moral compass: that’s my paradox.
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