Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Core Systemic Issue: Trust

By Gilbert Mercier

Greed, Corruption and Lies on Wall Street, in Politics & on Main Street:

The latest symbol of this overwhelming sense that greed and corruption are running the show is Bernard Madoff. His famous and rich clients knew him from the exclusive country club, the fancy golf courses and they trusted him. Several charity organizations got completely wiped out by the $50 billion scam.
Today, we found out that the SEC had complaints concerning Madoff as early as 1999. In 10 years nothing was done, after all Madoff was part of this very exclusive club of the Wall Street elite; as long as everybody in the system was making loads of money nobody was too curious about the way Madoff could deliver very high returns.
AIG is another example of breach of trust in the financial world. This time it was about trusting the “the smartest guys in the room.” AIG was basically insuring something they had very little information about (the complex re-bundled loan securities). They trusted other financial entities blindly and investors in AIG trusted their long track record.
The scandal of the Governor of Illinois indicted for trying to sell the Senate seat of President-Elect Obama is shaking our confidence in government to the core. It makes us feel that we are watching a forgotten episode of The Sopranos applied to the nasty politics of Chicago. Is everybody for sale, are we living in a time where civic virtue is just gone from public life?
The Bush administration’s massive and illegal spying on Americans, with the complicity of telecommunication companies, is of course the biggest breach of trust of all. Let’s not forget that we also got dragged into an endless war in Iraq based on manufactured evidence. It will be hard to trust our government again.
All human relationships from love and friendship to business are based on trust. If this sense of trust is breached constantly by greed, corruption or lies it is very difficult to put it back into our life.
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