One constant in the history of the expansion of the state is the reliance on “emergency conditions” to justify extraordinary usurpations of power. Paralyzing dissent and resistance with mindless fear is a time-honored way to deprive people of their liberties and fleece them of their wealth, and we are seeing plenty of this these days. In recent weeks, most especially last week, we have been told that dire catatstrophe awaits us unless we cede to the government–the same government that worked to create and deepen the crisis–vast, unprecedented powers that will be used mainly to use its coercive apparatus to aid a relative few.
The plan isn’t going to work. The savings-and-loan bailout at the end of the 1980s and the Mexican bailout in the 1990s worked in that they essentially rebooted systems that were reasonable and resilient, but which had simply been mismanaged. That is not the case with the securitization or mortgages, or with the whole tensor-calculus multiverse of financial hedges and risk-shifting algorithms of which the mortgage packages are only the most comprehensible component.
There is an old Doctor Who episode (Curse of the Fendahl) from the Tom Baker era, the premise of which was that evolution on the original fifth planet of our solar system, now the Asteroid Belt, had taken a wrong turn. Intelligent life there was fundamentally morbid and intolerably dangerous to the rest of the universe. Something like that seems to have happened to a large part of the financial system in the Risk Shift Era. Actors in a market economy are supposed to be in a cybernetic relationship to the rest of the market. Actors send out a signal, and then get a signal back, which tells them whether the signal they had sent was a good idea or not. The goal of Risk Shift, however, is to ensure that you never hear bad news. If your action has a bad consequence, successful Risk Shift will ensure that the consequence happens somewhere else.
This strategy is an attempt to defeat the purpose for which markets exist. It is a morbid fantasy. The systems it inspired cannot be put right.
If you identify yourself as a “business conservative” or “corporate libertarian,” you should be ashamed. There is no one as unprincipled as a corporate weasel begging the government for a handout.