So let me tell you a little story, see if this sounds familiar. It’s the story of a country that is so prosperous, they decided to make sure everyone of their citizens is afforded the spoils of this prosperity, whether they contributed to it or not. They do this by making sure people who can’t really afford a home loan are still given the same opportunity to get one. As the houses start dwindling from the market, the prices start rising. Speculation started running so high that the stock market set records. Eventually, those who can’t really afford those loans start defaulting on them. As the bad loans started rolling in, the banks started passing them off to one another in packages of assets that would disguise the subterfuge. Banks were investing the cash from these bad loans in the stock market. Soon, none of the banks had any real assets. In order to help correct the problem, the federal government started propping up the banks with huge bailouts. Despite all of the governments best attempts, the housing bubble burst and property values plummeted causing a requisite tanking of the stock market. The government decided it was time for swift and decisive action. A new mandate for a slew of public works projects and stimulus packages was ordered to help set the economy on the straight and narrow.
Does all of this sound familiar? It should. Obviously, this is precisely what is happening to us here in the good ol’ US of A right now. But this story is not about the US. It’s about Japan! Japan’s housing bubble burst in the early 90’s. For almost two decades now, they have been trying to recover from it. The government has spent untold trillions on public works projects and bailouts, only to be mired in this malaise. Instead of seeing the error of their ways, they are touting this new hybrid economy to their neighbors, China and Russia. Only within the last few months have they decided that perhaps they should start thinking about some sort of tax relief.
George Santayana is probably rolling in his grave right now. Who’s George Santayana?!? You mean, you don’t know who George Santayana is? Oh come on. Ok, I didn’t know who he was till I looked him up. George Santayana is famous for saying, “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” I guess we’re all condemned.