Used to be, when a financial bubble broke, an interval followed during which chastened perpetrators straightened their clothing, wiped up the slimy residue of the explosion, and acted as if they were penitent until the next scam occurred to them. Intervals of decency have gone out of fashion.
After the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s (which followed immediately the deregulation of S&Ls), a relatively quiet decade passed before the boys at Enron discovered how to get rich by manipulating electricity markets (immediately after those markets had been deregulated). By contrast, the Housing Bubble began to expand while the dot-com bubble was collapsing. And here we are, still trying to climb out of the rubble of what was a global financial structure, and the boys that bombed it are running around juggling sticks of dynamite with lit fuses again.
According the the New York Times Sunday (“Wall Street Pursues Profit in Bundles of Life Insurance“), the Latest Sneeze on Wall Street is this: you find someone who’s old and sick and not going to live long; you buy the person’s life insurance policy for cents on the dollar; then — here’s the genius part — you bundle these purloined policies and sell people shares in the bundle. Is that great? You get paid for finding the policies (just hang out in the nearest emergency room, youll do fine. Or you could chase ambulances.), you get paid for assembling the bundle, you get paid for selling the shares. Why, these things are as good as Mortgage Backed Securities were. Oh, wait, how did they work out again?
The Masters of the (Remastered) Universe truly believe that this new algorithm, based as it is on sickness and death, can reliably replace the income they enjoyed from the previous scheme, based as it was merely on poverty. Indeed, they have already restored our faith in their ability to demonstrate, in ever more lurid terms, that love of money is the source of all evil.