I’m sure you’re aware of what’s been happening in the financial world over the last few days. Well, actually it’s been for the last few years but it all seems to be coming to a head. Pundits will be post-morteming this for a while and I’m sure many books will be written over the next few months.
I’m of the opinion that all of this was caused by distractions. I’m not sure what the distractions were. Maybe the enormous amounts of wealth being generated distracted smart people from doing things in ways that they know are prudent. Maybe the cacophony of our broken politics distracted the folks who were providing oversight from doing just that. Maybe the overwhelming amount of information each of us seems to process every day distracted us from paying enough attention to the part of that information flow that are the macro (Wall Street) and micro (our own portfolios) economic worlds around us.
The search for villains and scapegoats is on. Maybe it’s the short sellers! Maybe it’s the oil guys! It’s normal to want to blame someone or something. Truth is, like most bad business decisions, it’s not usually one person. There’s usually a chicken little somewhere who screamed abut the sky falling and was ignored. The reality is that often two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different. That’s sort of the wonder of art and that will happen here. So no one, ultimately, will take the blame although if you pay taxes, you’ll share the punishment since we’re bailing each other out (which could be another very long post).
Let’s see who the firefighters are in this. You know them: they’re the people running at the problem to help fix it rather than the ones running away from it screaming about the fire. In business, I’ve always encouraged people to fight the fire, to run into the burning building. Unfortunately, often to do that you have to run over the wall of people running the other way.