"Numbers are just logic." he says. "They never lie, and they never change. They are constant."
Clearly, we are a case study in right brain/left brain disparity. Opposites really do attract, I guess.
I can add and subtract well enough. I can do simple percentages in my head when I need to figure out how much to tip or how much off on a sale item. I can balance a checkbook (although I prefer not to) and I can read a balance sheet.
But anything more complicated than that makes me weak with anxiety. Thankfully, I am not often called upon to perform more complicated feats of numeric dexterity.
Remember how they told us that we'd need Algebra someday?
At least, to those of us not destined for economics or astrophysics.
I think it's clear pretty early on, how a child is inclined in terms of aptitude. Why oh why do they have to make kids who are right brainers suffer through the torture that is mathematics? Why?
Well perhaps so we can understand it when the foundation of our economic structure crumbles beneath our feet.
I'm not a financeer and don't pretend to be. I don't really understand things like hedge funds, credit default swaps, Ponzi schemes, subprime mortgage securities, and collateralized debt obligations.
But when mortgage companies began offering "non traditional" loans to people who wouldn't otherwise qualify, and carrying a substantial amount of debt became the norm, and suddenly, everybody could afford everything...it was not hard to extrapolate that we Americans were building a house of cards that would, eventually be toppled by the shiny dangling charm (oblique Brady Bunch reference for those under forty) of false prosperity.
Economist or not, it's not hard to understand the basic principle behind the economic crisis; greed.
I've been doing a little bit of reading, trying to understand the financial crisis on a deeper level, make sense of the stimulus package, and comprehend the long term implications of a decade or two of greed, excess and entitlement.
I ran across this article.
25 People To Blame For The Financial Crisis.
When I was done reading, I was both elucidated and further confused.
But regardless of the dichotomy, one thing that struck me was the fact that aside from the most high profile names; Alan Greenspan, Bernie Madoff, Dick Fuld, Angelo Mozillo, Hank Paulsen, and a handful of others...I recognized very few of them.
I found it extremely disconcerting, not to mention ironic, that people who have shaped our lives and our futures so profoundly are veritable strangers to us. I say "us", because I'm going to assume I'm not the only one who had no idea who Kathleen Corbett and Phil Gramm are.
As I said, I'm not a financeer or an economist. Not by a long shot.
But I am a common sensiteer. And a plain as the nose on your faceicist.
I think a few general principles need to be put into place if we are ever going to regain our economic equilibrium: Transparency. Accountability. Regulation. Moderation.
The main charge being levelled against Greenspan is his disdain for government involvement in economic matters and the deeply held belief that the key players in the game of craps that is our country's economic structure, as well as the fiscal processes that drive it, can self-regulate.
It has now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing could be further from the truth.
Deregulation is bad...mmmmkay? SOMEBODY has to be maintaining a system of checks and balances. Otherwise, no name individuals with too much power will continue to screw the people over for personal gain.
I knew greed and rampant self-interest were to blame for our current situation. But until I began really educating myself, I was ignorant of just how profoundly those factor figured into this whole mess.
But you know...I think this had to happen in order for us to wake-up from our collective stupor. This had to happen for a shift in priorities to take place. This had to happen in order for the sense of entitlement that has gripped us to loosen it's hold. And yhis had to happen in order for a public outcry to be made and heard.
Recession is an ugly word. Depression is even uglier.
But I choose to think that in the end, the results will be positive and we will see a return to the fiscal conservatism and personal responsibility that were the hallmarks of more circumspect eras.
I always have been a bit of a Pollyanna, I guess. Maybe that goes hand in hand with sucking at math.