We all know that the 2008 financial cataclysm was caused by mortgages offered to customers with weak or no credit histories, bundled together to create “investment opportunities”, causing a chain reaction of losses.
Now it is the turn of “leveraged loans”, which are offered to companies already in debt, without too many strings attached. Most of these loans are sold on and have floating rates of interest, a feature that is attractive to investors who benefit when rates rise. Owing to the rapidity of their trading means there is little incentive to tighten up their terms.
The value of this market is a staggering $1.3 trillion – a potential repeat of 2008 just hanging there, promoted by the get rich quick characters in the banking world who don’t fear a melt-down; after all, no one sent to jail last time.
One of the principles not included in the original thoughts of Epicurus (because if there were rapacious, greedy bankers around to disturb his ataraxia in his era, they were few and could do limited harm) he would, for sure, have condemned them and advocated salutary punishment (chained to a bench on an oar-propelled galley?). The political class must know about the threat posed by leveraged loans, but nothing is being done, nor will it be – the corruption of the system cannot be easily reversed. We, the people, will be the sufferers if and when the financial sector goes belly-up and we have to rescue it – again.