The Current Great Recession - Who Is To Blame

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In the midst of the current economic downturn, dubbed the “Great Recession”, it is natural to look for one, singular entity or person to blame. Managers of large banks, professional investors and federal regulators have all been named as potential creators of the recession, with varying degrees of guilt. No matter who is to blame, the fallout from the mistakes that were made that led to the current crisis is clear. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate is 9.7%, with 9.3 million Americans out of work (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Compared to a normal economic rate of two or three percent, it is clear that the decisions of one group of people have had a profound affect on the lives of millions of Americans. The real blame for this crisis rests on the heads of the managers that attempted to play the financial system through securitization, and forced the American government to “bail out” their companies with taxpayer money. These managers, specifically the managers of AIG and Citigroup, should be subject to extreme pay caps for the length of time that the American taxpayer holds majority holdings in their companies, as a punitive punishment for causing the Great Recession.
Not only were millions of Americans been put out of work due to these manager’s actions, the American financial markets themselves were pushed to the brink of collapse. Despite the fact that the global financial markets, in reality, are not perfectly efficient, there is a corrective mechanism built into the day-to-day trading in the market. When prices are driven down by large sells, either by large investors or a movement in a stock, there are usually new buyers for these stocks at the cheaper price. Managers of large funds and of financial intermediaries discovered that bundling, or securitizing, mortgages into a pool was extremely profitable, especially when the real estate market was booming. In the lead up to the current recession, when the real estate market began to fall, there were so many investors shorting stocks and securitized mortgage packages that were already falling, that the market simply fell further. There were no buyers at the bottom, and the professional investors made millions off of the losses of others. Beyond this, there was no real federal regulation for securitized mortgages, since there was no real way to gauge the mathematical risk of any given package. This allowed the investors to take advantage of the system and to short loans on real people’s homes. Once these securities were worthless, many of the homebuyer’s defaulted on their mortgages and were left penniless. No matter from which angle this crisis is looked at, the blame rests squarely with the managers who began the entire cycle, the ones who pursued the securitization of mortgages. Their incompetence not only led to the losses of Americans who have never invested in the stock market, but to losses for their shareholders.
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