Parale, parale, parale

Cu ceva vreme în urmă mă delectam cuEmpire al lui Niall Ferguson. Despre cum britanicii au edificat un imperiu făinuț pe spinarea funcționarilor publici care, deși puțini la număr (vreo 3000), făceau „pace” pe cinci continente. Moștenirea acestora sunt instituțiile publice care dau un randament mai mare decât alternativele franțuzești și spaniole. Niall Ferguson este un istoric foarte vocal. Un veritabil Indiana Jones al catedrei.

În tot cazul a sosit sorocul banilor – The Ascent of Money. Ascensiunea lor carevasăzică. Șase capitole în care rând pe rând Mr. Ferguson despică: 1. banii și băncile; 2. obligațiunile; 3. acțiunile și bursele; 4. asigurările; 5. piața imobiliară și 6. oximoronul modern zic Chimerica. Da, da – simbioza dintre comunistul chinez care sponsorizează capitalistul american. Incitant și savuros.

Din prima sută de pagini aflu că în Mesopotamia au existat cambii, familia Medici era de sorginte o ceată de gangsteri, clanul Rothschilds și-au făcut avere pe seama războaielor napoleoniene, iar Argentina, până a luneca pe calea crizelor la finele sec. XIX, a fost parte Top 10 a țărilor bogate. Asta e – un istoric care vorbește limpede despre finanțe:

Behind each great historical phenomenon there lies a financial secret, and this book sets out to illuminate the most important of these. For example, the Renaissance created such a boom in the market for art and architecture because Italian bankers like the Medici made fortunes by applying Oriental mathematics to money. The Dutch Republic prevailed over the Habsburg Empire because having the world’s first modern stock market was financially preferable to having the world’s biggest silver mine. The problems of the French monarchy could not be resolved without a revolution because a convicted Scots murderer had wrecked the French financial system by unleashing the first stock market bubble and bust. It was Nathan Rothschild as much as the Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. It was financial folly, a self-destructive cycle of defaults and devaluations, that turned Argentina from the world’s sixth-richest country in the 1880s into the inflation-ridden basket case of the 1980s.

Fără un sistem financiar bine croit, bunăstarea ia-o de unde nu-i:

I myself have learned a great deal in writing this book, but three insights in particular stand out.

The first is that poverty is not the result of rapacious financiers exploiting the poor. It has much more to do with the lack of financial institutions, with the absence of banks, not their presence. Only when borrowers have access to efficient credit networks can they escape from the clutches of loan sharks, and only when savers can deposit their money in reliable banks can it be channelled from the idle rich to the industrious poor. (…)

My second great realization has to do with equality and its absence. If the financial system has a defect, it is that it reflects and magnifies what we human beings are like. As we are learning from a growing volume of research in the field of behavioural finance, money amplifies our tendency to overreact, to swing from exuberance when things are going well to deep depression when they go wrong. Booms and busts are products, at root, of our emotional volatility. But finance also exaggerates the differences between us, enriching the lucky and the smart, impoverishing the unlucky and not-so-smart. (…)

Finally, I have come to understand that few things are harder to predict accurately than the timing and magnitude of financial crises, because the financial system is so genuinely complex and so many of the relationships within it are non-linear, even chaotic. The ascent of money has never been smooth, and each new challenge elicits a new response from the bankers and their ilk. Like an Andean horizon, the history of finance is not a smooth upward curve but a series of jagged and irregular peaks and valleys.

S-o dai în bară în lumea afacerilor nu este un păcat capital:

The ability to walk away from unsustainable debts and start all over again is one of the distinctive quirks of American capitalism. There were no debtors’ prisons in the United States in the early 1800s, at a time when English debtors could end up languishing in jail for years. Since 1898, it has been every American’s right to file for Chapter VII (liquidation) or XIII (voluntary personal reorganization). Rich and poor alike, people in the United States appear to regard bankruptcy as an ‘unalienable right’ almost on a par with ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. The theory is that American law exists to encourage entrepreneurship – to facilitate the creation of new businesses. And that means giving people a break when their plans go wrong, even for the second time, thereby allowing the natural-born risk-takers to learn through trial and error until they finally figure out how to make that million. After all, today’s bankrupt might well be tomorrow’s successful entrepreneur.

Piața de capital are treabă cu psihanaliza:

Yet stock markets also have a life of their own. The future is in large measure uncertain, so our assessments of companies’ future profitability are bound to vary. If we were all calculating machines we would simultaneously process all the available information and come to the same conclusion. But we are human beings, and as such are prone to myopia and to mood swings. When stock market prices surge upwards in sync, as they often do, it is as if investors are gripped by a kind of collective euphoria: what the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan memorably called irrational exuberance. Conversely, when investors’ ‘animal spirits’ flip from greed to fear, the bubble of their earlier euphoria can burst with amazing suddenness. Zoological imagery is of course an integral part of stock market culture. Optimistic buyers of stocks are bulls, pessimistic sellers are bears. Investors these days are said to be an electronic herd, happily grazing on positive returns one moment, then stampeding for the farmyard gate the next. The real point, however, is that stock markets are mirrors of the human psyche. Like homo sapiens, they can become depressed. They can even suffer complete breakdowns. Yet hope – or is it amnesia? – always seems able to triumph over such bad experiences.

Iat-așa. Mai vorbim după 200 de pagini. ;)

2011-07-12 20:24:03


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