Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Ascent of Money

Most irritating TV show. It's on PBS, has a British narrator, and it talks about high finance, stock markets and banks and such. The irritating part is the lack of causes. Every thing in life has cause and effect. This TV show talks only about effects, totally avoids causes.
I caught it where they are talking about an economic Renaissance in Chile after the overthrow of Allende. According to the show, Milton Freidman of the University of Chicago went to Chile after the revolution and talked economics to the new strongman, Pinochet. Freidman sold the Chileans on a new pension scheme, essentially the "individual retirement accounts" they talk about up here, and the economy boomed. Irritating part of program, I don't believe that a new pension scheme alone is enough to turn an economy around. Betcha there was other stuff at work too. And they never showed any numbers about the boom. I wanted a nice line graph showing GNP over ten years, some numbers. All they showed was shots of shiny skyscrapers down town. So how good was this Chilean boom anyhow?
Then we move up to Great Depression 2.0 They do talk about a "disturbance in the American housing market" started the trouble. Well, so what? We all know that. Not a word about Fannie and Freddie's role, not a word about mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps. Not a word about the role of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. No discussion of the secondary mortgage market, when and how it got started, and it's role in promoting "NINJA" mortgages (No Income, No Job, No Assets). They talked a lot about the evils of red lining, racial discrimination in housing but nothing about government pressure to do sub prime mortgages.
Essentially this show takes us to the scene of a disaster, and does a lot of handwringing about how horrible the disaster is, but doesn't tell us what caused it.
Irritating. I finally turned it off and went to bed.

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