The government’s bailout plan destroyed capitalism. In a capitalist system, those who stood to gain–and already made off with large gains—would have to bear the risk. The bailouts represented a corruption of capitalism. Crony capitalism violates the spirit of democracy established by the Founding Fathers of the republic known as the United States. I expressed these sentiments in a letter to the Financial Times on September 29, 2008.
In November 2008, President Obama was elected, and he was sworn in January 2009. The country was promised change and reform. Recently two democrats close to the top of President Obama’s administration made excuses to me for the lack of financial reform in the United States. Their separately related versions were remarkably similar, so similar they seemed scripted:
The administration made a bargain, and I’m not sure it was the right decision. The world was teetering on the edge of collapse. There was a crisis of confidence. There would have been unimaginable consequences. So bad even your imagination can’t handle the truth?
Global financial markets are awash in hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives. By some estimates, the total amount exceeds one quadrillion.
Derivatives played a central role in the 2008 credit crisis, as they had a brutal multiplying effect on the magnitude of the carnage. As a bad asset was written down, oftentimes there were derivative contracts written against it that resulted in total losses 10x greater than the initial write-down.
But what exactly are derivatives? How do they work?