November 24, 2012

Discrimination against “The Risky”, in America, “the Home of the Brave”, is pure tragedy.

Gillian Tett quotes Peter Thiel concerns about that American innovation is slowing, sapped by the financial boom and a risk-averse culture. “There might be a great deal to gain in sharing the pain” November 24. To that Kenneth Rogoff had retorted that it was the implosion of the debt bubble – not lack of innovation that hurt American growth. 

Ms Tett finds Mr. Thiel’s comment fascinating in how it reflects America as “a country founded with an optimism that anything could be done, and had little sense of resource constraint” 

Yes, that might have been true but currently the US, like Europe, have introduced severe constraints on one of the most important elements of innovation and development, namely that of risk-taking. 

The debt bomb-that imploded has absolutely nothing to do with credits given to entrepreneurs or other risk-taking innovation ventures, but exclusively with credits given to what was officially considered to be absolutely safe. 

It was the direct result of extremely confused and risk-averse bank regulators who by allowing the banks to leverage their equity many times more for exposures considered as part of “The Infallibles” effectively locked out “The Risky” from access to bank credit, as these could not provide the banks with similar returns on equity. 

The Risky” are already sufficiently discriminated against by Mark Twain’s banker, he who lends you the umbrella when the sun is out and wants it back, fast, when it looks like it is going to rain. That the regulators has layered on additional discrimination against “The Risky” in a land that prides itself being called “the land of the brave”, is pure tragedy. 

A nation that worries more about history, what it has got, “The Infallible”, the old, than about the future, what it can get, “The Risky”, the young, is a nation that is stalling and falling.