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Games banksters play

Martin Wolf at the FT* on "Pass the parcel":

Yet, instead of examining the outcome in detail, I asked myself a broader question: where have we got to? When I did so, I found myself thinking of the British children’s game of “pass the parcel”. In this game, a package is passed around until the music stops. Thereupon, a player removes a piece of wrapping paper and the game restarts. The winner removes the last piece of paper and secures the prize.

So here are four such games. The first is played within the financial sector: the aim of each player is to ensure that bad loans end up somewhere else, while collecting a fee [rent!] for each sheet unwrapped along the way. The second game is played between finance and the rest of the private sector, the aim being to sell the latter as much service [rent!] as possible, while ensuring that the losses end up with the customers. The third game is played between the financial sector and the state: its aim is to ensure that, if all else fails, the state ends up with these losses. Then, when the state has bailed it out, finance can win by shorting the states it has bankrupted. The fourth game is played among states. The aim is to ensure that other countries end up with any excess supply. Surplus countries win by serially bankrupting the private and then public sectors of trading partners. It might be called: “beggaring your neighbours, while feeling moral about it”. It is the game Germany is playing so well in the eurozone.

I like the third game the best, because it sounds exactly like the kind of game that Golden Sacks would play: Heads, I win; tails, you lose.

I also like the "pass the parcel" metaphor, though I wish I knew an American equivalent (there's no "parcel" in Musical Chairs). What's inside the parcel is, of course, Atrios's Big Shitpile. And "how big is The Big Shitpile" is a question we still don't know, no doubt because that parcel is still in play. When the banksters finally stick us with it, we'll know how big The Big Shitpile really is.

"But it's really great shit, Mrs. Presky!"

NOTE * Login required. The FT is at least as interesting as Bloomberg, and has marginally more integrity than Pravda and Izvestia -- since, at some level, our rulerz really do need court jesters to tell them the truths that nobody else will -- and so it's worth it to sign up for the account. Female, 18, 90210 and so forth.

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