Thursday, May 09, 2013

The only thing that surprises me is that this hasn't happened sooner

Or maybe it has and we just haven't heard about it.  A gang of thieves stole $45 million in a coordinated attack on ATM machines worldwide.  This surprises me not at all.  The world's financial systems are for the most part hopelessly insecure because they are (again for the most part) based on protocols that were invented in the 1950s.  I became personally and painfully aware of how deeply broken the system is when a bank lost a very substantial sum of my money in 2008.  Since then I have become even more painfully aware of how deeply entrenched the brokenness is when my own efforts to fix this problem crashed and burned on the shoals of protectionist regulations and other very effective barriers to entry erected by the banking industry to keep meddling newcomers like me off of their turf.

The situation is bad.  It's really, really bad.  And it's going to keep getting worse because the banks have no incentive to fix the problem.  They aren't going to face any competition.  Their barriers to entry are too effective.  And they aren't really taking on any risk either because as long as their losses are big enough they just get the government to bail them out.  Because, well, they basically own the government.

I really wonder what the end game is going to be here, because I don't see how the status quo can possibly be sustainable.  Banking is supposed to be about capital formation and risk management, but it has now become an industry of arbitrage and legalized fraud.  Banks have become parasites, sucking the life blood from the economy and contributing nothing.

The thing about parasites is that they can only grow so much before they kill the host.

No comments: