The Crisis: Debt and Real Wealth

April 13, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Bob Fireovid for sending me this short piece by Professor Herman Daly on the current financial crisis.

The current financial debacle is really not a “liquidity” crisis as it is often euphemistically called. It is a crisis of overgrowth of financial assets relative to growth of real wealth – pretty much the opposite of too little liquidity. Financial assets have grown by a large multiple of the real economy – paper exchanging for paper is now 20 times greater than exchanges of paper for real commodities. It should be no surprise that the relative value of the vastly more abundant financial assets has fallen in terms of real assets. Real wealth is concrete; financial assets are abstractions – existing real wealth carries a lien on it in the amount of future debt.

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