Gambling With Other People’s Money

Russ Roberts
Reading Order: Book 23
Categories: 2021, Erik Rostad
Non-Fiction
Pages: 83
Date Started: May 28, 2021
Date Finished: May 29, 2021
1h 55m 46s
Reason Book was Chosen: I've listened to Russ Roberts' podcast, EconTalk, since 2013. He is also one of my website clients and I manage his russroberts.info website. It's been a pleasure to get to know him through the work on his website and I am looking forward to reading all of his books.

My Thoughts

A quick book about the 2008 financial crisis. What caused it? Russ places the blame on the implicit guarantee of bailouts and the corruption of incentives. He quotes Milton Friedman that Capitalism is a profit and loss system. Profits encourage risk-taking and losses encourage prudence. When you mess with that formula by guaranteeing bailouts and those partaking of the risk-taking have that as a consideration, then the risk of loss is mitigated and encourages risk-taking. The ultimate losers in this game are you and me – the taxpayers. Our money is used for the bailouts. Russ points out that the executives of many of the firms taking these risks invested their own money in safer investments. But since their firms were mostly using other people’s money and there was the implicit guarantee of bailouts, they took great risk with sub-par investments knowing the taxpayer would fit the bill if anything went wrong. It’s evil and corrupt, but Russ says not to blame Capitalism but to rather blame Crony Capitalism and perverse incentives.

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