Thursday, October 9, 2008

Like a German

Sometimes I feel like a German.

[Insert joke here]

I heard this piece on the radio explaining how Germany's banking system is relatively unaffected by the current economic climate because they didn't participate (or gain) from the excesses that led to the international meltdown. They didn't get involved in subprime loans. In fact, their equivalent system to a savings and loan is very conservative, only offering mortgages to those with at least 20% down. And depositors earn no more than 4%. Whoa, Nelly!!

The thing is that MetaDaddy and I thought about moving a couple of years ago, but we didn't want to (1) overpay for a property or (2) take out a mortgage we couldn't afford. Staying in our current home, we got to take advantage of the benefits of Santa Monica under affordable circumstances. That said, we'd look longingly at homes in our neighborhood while muttering under our breathe about how nice it would be...blah, blah, blah. But financially, we remained conservative...yardless, but conservative.

When the mortgage crisis started to unfold, we felt vindicated. Why should I feel bad for someone who made a bad decision if I restricted myself from the same luxury? Why should I bail that person out? Why? Why? Why?

But at some point it became obvious that something needed to happen before the U.S. economy, as well as that of so many other countries, is compromised. Is the 700 billion bail out the answer? I don't know. I don't think anyone knows for sure. It seems people with a lot of knowledge and experience are taking a shot in the dark to avoid repeating history.

As I heard this story about Germany, it seemed to me that they'll have to appreciate that even if they didn't benefit from the economy over the past few years, it doesn't mean that they won't suffer if the financial system isn't repaired. All of our economies are interwoven so tightly; you can see the tear ripping through the fabric of the international financial system. And while it's hard to help someone who benefited from stupid mistakes at an ultimate cost to you, isn't the alternative scenario worse.