If I hear one more person blame the investment banks for the recent financial crisis I think I’m going to go insane! I saw a brief interview on Bloomberg today talking about how the increased government regulation on Investments Banks has been great news for Hedge Funds, because everyone is now using them for high risk / high return investment, and it just reminded me how the problem is not the investment banks or their managers. Its us! Is yours and mine and the world’s greed in general.
The 3 biggest participants in the market by a long way are pension funds, mutual funds and insurance companies. These all ultimate are owned by retail investors, and you by your choices of who to invest your pension or to take out insurance with control the actions of these institutions. If the institutions are greedy, its because you and I have unrealistic expectations for how we want our retirement money to perform.
Yes the investment banks might have been able to act more responsibly, but we caused this 2 ways, sorry 3 ways.
1) We strive and are greedy for better and better homes, ones our of our reach, and took out mortgages above what we could afford.
2) If we are in the more well off proportion of the world, we (and yes I don’t either) share are wealth enough with those less fortunate.
3) As I said, we by our actions or even our indecision, demanded performance out of our investments, which caused banks and funds to invest in risky mortgages too.
And can we please stop complaining about big bonus for IB execs. You pay your football players / basketball players / movie stars that much, and all they do is entertain you. Millions is simply what it costs to get someone to do that job, to take on the responsibility and stress of managing that much money. And please pay if its in the contract! Yes good people might give back bonuses paid to more needy causes if everyone else is not doing good financially, but if a company has a contractual agreement to guarantee a bonus it should pay it! You can’t fix a wrong (that is our greed), by another wrong, breaking of something you promised to do. We’re acting like a respectable business man, who pays the mob to do all his dirty work for them, and then pays someone to kill them!
Things you can do, if you want to stop this:
1) Choose ethical / low risk / or at least be conscious of your pension investment choices.
2) Buy index funds, instead of paying someone to manage your money. They normally outperform manage funds anyway!
3) Stop watching all those home make over programs. About the only good one is Extreme Makeover Home Edition because they actually help people in need, and it makes me cry almost everytime! Although cynically I could say they are only able to help people because they know all of us the rest of will buy stuff we don’t need from their sponsors.
4) Be productive in your retirement. John Eldridge says “This is the heart of the Sage, to make his greatest contribution with the last years of his life.” It will keep you happier, more satisfied, healthy and living longer if you find worth while things to do. Things that are both what makes you come alive, and help other people.
5) Figure out why we can’t say that what we have is enough (I still feel like this too), I’m sure finding satisfaction in God and family and friends and the things that really matter has something to do with that. If you’re a guy, this is a great place to start: http://www.mensfraternity.com
I am probably being too judgmental here, not that what I have said is wrong, but that I am too much a part of the problem to have taken the tone that I have here.