Monday, August 04, 2003

Pyramid Scheme?

The Post's article on the financial collapse of Argentina is stunning. The country collapsed under $141 billion in debt - a situation Wall Street firms made millions creating. The bond traders compensation was based on the number and size of the deals they made - regardless if those deals were sure to fail (which they did). At the same time the stock traders compensation was also tied to how much the bond traders earned, so they promoted the companies in Argentina's stock market, not because they were good companies, but so that the bond traders could sell more bonds!!

"But others acknowledge that they cannot help being influenced by the fact that their compensation is likely to be greater if their investment banking colleagues win deals to sell bonds. For one thing, success for the investment bankers means the pool of money available for bonuses will be larger, and at some firms, the analysts' bonuses are decided by groups of managers that include investment bankers... Your salary will be about one-third of your compensation in a decent year, so your bonus is everything"

So the Wall Street investment companies made nearly $1 billion in fees for setting up these bonds, which lead to the disaster. In the U.S. you can't sell someone a knowingly defective product and then take no responsibility for it when it falls apart. How is it that these Wall Street firms can sell a product, which they knew very well was most likely going to fail, and walk away with the money and without any responsibility? Of course this old news, much the same pattern is what led to the bubble and collapse of the U.S. stock market. But in Argentina people did not lose just part of their retirement savings, they lost everything - their jobs, and their homes. After Wall Street had its way with the country, the poverty rate tripled, leaving over half the country in living and looking for food on the streets.

God bless America ... but screw everyone else?

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