Thursday, October 23, 2008

Atwood on Debt

Atwood hits the nail on the head in her 10/21/08 NY Times Op-Ed:

Atwood Op Ed

But at some point we stopped seeing debt as a simple personal relationship. The human factor became diminished. Maybe it had something to do with the sheer volume of transactions that computers have enabled. But what we seem to have forgotten is that the debtor is only one twin in a joined-at-the-hip pair, the other twin being the creditor. The whole edifice rests on a few fundamental principles that are inherent in us.

In my "OCM" post, I made the same point:

OCM Post

It wasn’t just leverage that caused this financial collapse—it was the attenuated way in which various people could make money. For example, a mortgage broker could loan hundreds of thousands of dollars over the phone to an applicant or after meeting him for half an hour and filling out some forms. After this initial contact, the broker had no interest whatsoever in the applicant/debtor. The broker received a fee from the bank for giving it the loan, and the bank sold the loan it generated to other investors as part of a larger package. The story is old now, but deserves to be told, because too many people miss its crucial point: attenuation leads to irresponsibility.

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