Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Revisiting "Riding out the Credit Collapse"

At BoingBoing today, Douglas Rushkoff passes along the link to an article he did this past spring for Arthur magazine titled "Riding out the Credit Collapse." As he writes on BoingBoing, this is "a way to review the steps that led to our current fiasco, explain it in the greater context of centralized currency, and help people not feel so very terrible about it all."

Here is an excerpt of the Arthur magazine piece:

...Bush’s tax cuts and other measures favoring the rich led to the biggest redistribution of wealth from poor to rich in American history. The result was that the wealthy—the investment class—had more money to invest, or lend, than there were people and businesses looking to borrow.
The easiest way to bring more borrowers into the system—and to create more of a market for money—was to promote homeownership in America. This is precisely what the Bush administration did, touting home ownership as an American right. Of course, they weren’t talking about home ownership at all, but rather pushing people to borrow money tied to the value of a house. If people could be persuaded to take mortgages on homes, real estate values would go up for those already invested (like land trusts and real estate funds) and banks would have a market for the excess money they had accumulated.
In short, there was a surplus of credit in the system. Americans were encouraged to borrow in the form of mortgages, which created demand for the credit banks wanted to sell. In many cases the credit itself wasn’t even real, but leveraged off some other inflated commodity that the bank or investor may have owned.

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