Watching the Senate Agriculture Committee hearings on the crisis in the financial services industry, I see theories I've held for years borne out in testimony. This dates back to the 1980s. Surprise!
The $700 billion we just threw at the problem simply constitutes the two-by-four between the eyes that the citizenry and their elected representatives needed to draw their belated attention to the magnitude of the rot.
As one senator observed, "These instruments [credit swaps and derivatives] exist just to make money off of money. Why not just ban them?"
Indeed. The money business attaches itself to the real economy in the way that ticks and leeches attach themselves to other creatures. Something then eats these parasites, giving them a place in the food chain, but if they did not exist the food chain would go on, and would be a happier place.
Of course the food chain analogy raises uncomfortable images when applied to the economy. Who is getting eaten? Who wants to be the dumb, numerous herbivore feeding the speedy, clever predator? Step away from the analogy after disposing of the ticks and leeches.