Home > Archive >  2009 >  January >  26

I now understand the financial crisis much better

Monday, January 26, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Back in September when the credit freeze was first becoming a matter of public discourse, I listened to a fantastic episode of This American Life that explained in layman's terms, what the crisis was about. This was followed up by a great FreshAir interview with NY Times financial reporter Gretchen Morgenson. Both highly recommended. Permalink to this paragraph

After those two shows I thought I understood, but the other day I had a flash of insight that brought it home in a much more personal way. Permalink to this paragraph

I'm lucky in many ways, one of those is that I have a good savings account that basically allowed me to retire at a very young age. Managing this nest egg is super important for me, it's what I live off. So in January I got the willies about the stock market and sold everything, moved it into cash. I did eventually start buying stocks again, slowly, but let's keep it simple and assume everything I own now is either in government bonds or the most conservative money market fund possible. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named ron.gifTurns out I was early, I saved a lot of value by selling in January, because later in 2008 a lot of other people did the same, causing the market to crash. At that point I never once entertained the thought of buying bonds or stocks of any kind. Never mind the explanation of not knowing which banks had a dishonest balance sheet or toxic assets, I was basically keeping my assets in a shoebox under the bed. I was and still am totally risk averse. I won't lend my money to anyone, I'm keeping it all for myself. I don't care if I earn zero interest, or even negative interest. I want to hold, hold, hold. As close as possible. I'm scared, freaked out even by what I see in the financial world.  Permalink to this paragraph

There you have it. I'm not lending money to anyone. Same with everyone else. That's exactly why the economy is stuck. Permalink to this paragraph

You want to go first? I don't. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

That smiley is there just so you know that there's still something worth laughing at in this crazy mess we call an economy. Permalink to this paragraph

BTW, what made me think of writing this up was an email I got from Citibank this morning offering unprecedented rates on a CD to which I said out loud "Fat chance buddy." Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

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