Sunday, June 10, 2012

TARPenty

Is TARPentry a new kind of capitalism? It happens that in a highly unequal society those who have money may lack things they really want to spend it on, and those without money lack means to buy what they want. Consequently, such a society lacks demand. This puts both rich and poor into a bind. The poor because they cannot afford to buy, and the rich, because there is no good way to invest. Lacking good ways to invest, they stash their money in banks, and the banks lend it out - not to good credit risks, because there aren't enough of them - but to people or governments who are in fact crappy credit risks.

This would seem extremely hazardous to the bankers and relatively rich who stashed their money in the banks. The actual bankers, protected by incorporation and the fact that they have already taken their payout, are fine. Stockholders and depositors are seemingly screwed, except for the fact that in a modern economy, massive bank failures are more catastrophic than a bucketful of tsunamis, so governments bail out depositors and often stockholders as well. We will refer to the bailout as TARPentry.

The effect is a massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers, who foot the bill and suffer the side effects, to those who are already relatively wealthy. Beats the heck out of actually producing anything.

In its way, it's just as good as various private equity scams.