Thursday, November 21, 2002

This is capitalism??: Actually, it's not. The Connie posts its latest missive in the tale of woes to come out of Japan and its decade-long fall into the abyss. Remember when we were all panicking over Japan buying up all the ground in the United States, not to mention our movie studios and technology companies? I'm not sure why we thought a country the size of New Jersey could muster the capital to do all this, but in any event, they couldn't...and didn't. It's now so bad, it is widely believed that some of the banks are going to be nationalized. What it all boils down to is that we fell for one of the biggest ponzi schemes ever. Essentially, the Japanese got rich through wild, mad land speculation which led to parcels being turned and churned in mere days between 2, 3 even 4 sets of hands, with the banks nodding all the way. Well, eventually, the last guy in realizes he's screwed, and fails. The bank is then left with a debt of X and a parcel of land worth Y. Now insert 100 MM Yen for "X", and 20 MM Yen for "Y", and multiply this by as many transactions as there were in that time, and you can see the problem. Of course, the banks were in bed with the corporate cartels that artificially kept employment high, while neglecting shareholders and bottom-line fundamentals. In short, they weren't master capitalists. More like master...well, anyway. It's hard to remember the hysteria that provoked Michael Crichton to write "Rising Sun."

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