Saturday, September 20, 2008


The current troubles on Wall Street might seem arcane and esoteric but the story is very simple. Pull up a chair and let me tell you.

I attempted last night to explain the current financial crisis to my youngest child during supper. I was talking with my husband about the situation in our dinnertime wrap up of the day's events.She was becoming bored with the adult recitation. I decided to interpret the grownup conversation in words that she could understand.

First, I defined some of the terms. I asked her if she knew the meaning of assets. She, naturally, was not familiar with this word. I told her that assets are what you own like her clothes, furniture, and stuffies. This was sensible to the child. I then told her about the banks that were having difficulty because they claimed assets (money) that they do not have. An example of this was Citigroup whose managers asserted they had enough cash on hand to be solvent until the necessity of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority buying up their losses. I explained that the organization (Abu Dubai) bought the bank's (Citigroup's) pretend money, what adults call 'debt', with real money. My daughter thought to buy something imaginary with cash was nutters.

She was restless at that point. It was time for her to take a bath and get ready for bed so I did not have the opportunity to give the child a more broad picture of why the United States government bailout of Wall Street is crazily dangerous. The boil-down of the problem is that the Bush administration is buying debt (pretend money) with debt (more pretend money). This debt will go on sale to the world market which, if countries are pragmatic, won't either take the bag and buy the feigned assets or purchase the fakery with more leveraged commodities. The bailout is a sham, a political expediency from the Bush administration that deliberately overlooks the fact that the American government does not have the funds to buy out trillions of dollars worth of subprime mortgages, hedge funds, and jiggered accounting books that show a profit where there is none. The entire capitalistic system has failed.

My eight-year-old can understand the insanity of the Bush administration's non-funded buy-up of Wall Street. Why can't the grownups?

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