Monday, July 28, 2008

Borrowers and Bankers: A Great Divide

I seriously doubt that there isn't anyone over the age of 13 in this country that isn't paying some level of attention to what is going on in our economy. And for those of us who are still paying not only our own bills, but still supporting our kids irrespective of age, to say that oil, housing, and the credit mess doesn't have our virtually undivided attention would probably be a serious understatement.

While this subject may well be consuming much of our waking hours, if you are like me, getting answers that seem to make sense is quite another story. It is for this reason that as a "public service" I would suggest that if you don't regularly read Gretchen Morgenson's column in the Sunday business section of the NY Times, I would take some time to check it out.

Her piece on July 20th called "Borrowers And Bankers: A Great Divide" I thought was pretty cool. The thrust of the column was directed at the notion of not just cleaning up messes such as the product of credit greed but rather preventing it in the first place.

I should confess that it wasn't just because I admire Morgenson's intellect and writing style, that this particular column had so much appeal. It was also because in it she devotes a fair amount of space to the "learnings" of John C. Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Group. If you know anything about Bogle, he is one of the very few Wall St. types who actually seem to have ethics.
One of the key points that Bogle makes in this article is that the crisis that we currently face is driven as much or more by the problems we face as a society and an economy as it is simply by stock market forces. Specifically Bogle is, as he should be, concerned about the growing imbalances we have.

Bogle puts it this way:

While the Declaration of Independence assures us that 'all men are created equal', we'd best face the fact that we may be created equal but are born into a society where inequality of family, of education and, yes, even opportunity begins as soon as we are born."

"But the Constitution demands more," he adds. "we the people are enjoined to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, and to promote the general welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. So it's up to each of us to summon our unique genius, our own power and our own personal magic to restore these values in today's imbalanced society."
Gretchen's comment:

"Not a bad idea, bringing a little 18th-century enlightenment to this moment of 21st-century gloom."
Think about it.

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