Sunday, December 21, 2008

Madoff as Metaphor (Lew Rockwell)

Lew Rockwell on the $50 billion Ponzi scheme created by state-connected criminal Bernard Madoff, which is dwarfed by the staggering enormity of the fraud still perpetrated by the state and its central bank:

The mystery of Bernard Madoff will be storied a hundred years from now. As history's biggest financial criminal, he took a cheap ripoff that you can use at home—the Ponzi scheme—and turned it into a global empire worth some $50 billion.

One ingredient was financial intelligence. Madoff had buckets of it. Early in his career, he was the real deal, an actual innovator. He combined this with an amazing lack of conscience, for his scam was rooted most fundamentally in lying and stealing. The difference between him and all who came before was his grand scale, the grandest scale imaginable.

There is a saying in the world of Austrian economics about the business cycle. The puzzle is not to explain business failures. Those are part of the normal course of life, and the sign of a healthy economy. The puzzle is to explain the "cluster of errors" that appears at the beginning of a recession. How could so many have been so wrong about so much at the same time? The business cycle is a system-wide failure, not merely the mistaken judgment of a few.

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