An explanation for the downfall of MF Global
Complete article here.
That is why this system has to change at some point. It is exactly designed to be misleading, and the reason is so very simple. In any fractional system there will be a desire to amplify that fraction to the maximum degree. But in doing so, participants recognize that the process of maximization entails creating negative human emotions and perceptions since history is not really that kind to this manner of fractionalization. So the system has institutionalized, abetted by the very regulators that are supposed to cap fractions and leverage, these methodologies of hiding just how much financial entities have engaged in maximizing themselves under the cover of mathematical precision. Trillions in derivatives are no problem because there are powerful and elegant equations to net and hedge them.
The Occupy Wall Street crowd sees this as a problem with capitalism. I believe that they are correct in their target, but wrong in their diagnosis. This is not a problem of capitalism since Wall Street is a practitioner of monetarism. A real capitalist system works through real intermediation creating positive opportunities for productive enterprises (scarce money is actually vital here). Our current system of repo-to-maturity and gold leasing is nothing but empty monetarism’s habit of regularly forcing the circulation of empty paper. And when the system begins to doubt itself, as it did in 2008, the answer is always about finding a way to restart the fractional maximization process yet again, which means disguising the real risks inherent to that process. There is no real mystery as to why prices and values have seen such a divergence, and why that is a big problem to a system that depends on appearances.