Sunday 8 February 2009

Where did all the money go?

The Guardian newspaper created a great graphic that explains where all the money went in the credit crunch. Perhaps the most scary thing is that actual amount of cash held by individuals and banks worldwide is $3.9 trillion whereas the total 'value' of all assets held at their peak was 290 trillion and these are falling past.

These include the toxic assets such as the derivatives and all the other wonderful financial instruments people decided to event.

The graphic can be seen here

1 comment:

Leigh Caldwell said...

These kind of graphics - and indeed these whole arguments - are impressive at first sight. But on reflection, why shouldn't the amount of debt or derivatives in the economy be much larger than the amount of gold or paper money? Paper money is rarely held for more than a few days, while some debts are held for decades. Derivatives are shorter term, but they are usually offset by other derivatives and so the net amount outstanding is much smaller than the figures given.

To be honest, this pyramid illustration is a bit like saying:

- Gordon Brown is one person
- He has influence through his power over 659 MPs
- Their decisions are implemented by 50,000 civil servants in Whitehall
- Whitehall's decisions come down to us through 10 million public sector employees
- The population of Britain is 60 million
- Some decisions we take now will influence the future population of Britain for the next 500 years - that's 800 million people
- Other decisions will influence the whole population of the world in the same period - possibly 100 billion people

Therefore, there is a pyramid of power centred on Gordon Brown which reaches out 100 billion-fold. This must therefore be unstable and due for unwinding.

This argument has some similarly big numbers but I don't think it's very convincing.

Still, the animations are nice.