You would think that the casino economy had spent itself, and that profiting from the misery of others might take a breather, at least while matters have started falling into the hands of the riot police.
There are arguments that traders in these formerly exotic but by now well known (not to say infamous) securities are really social benefactors, who contribute to “economic efficiency”. Doubtful. But even if it were true:
On Wall Street, Mr. Lippmann became known as “Bubble Boy,” and one of his traders wore a joking T-shirt that read, “I Shorted Your House.”
Buy low, sell high. Foreclose. Evict. Then buy low again:
Despite the limited supply, prices remain cheap, in part because the assets are difficult to value. Hedge funds and big investors use computer systems to analyze the underlying loans and estimate, among other things, how many borrowers will default and how much money can be recovered in a foreclosure.
Difficult to value? Not for the people who call the financial “asset” their home.
Fifty years ago the ultimate insanity of abdicating moral decision making to a “gigantic complex of computers” was the object of satire in a different context:
Does there come a point, ever, where the simple to understand human consequences of these demonstrably destructive and reckless financial activities registers? Apparently not. At least not until consequences far worse are visited upon the players. But of course by then it is too late for everyone.
These people need to be saved from themselves.