Monday, May 09, 2022

Some People Have Big Bezzles

 Today’s Axios Markets pointed me to a Felix Salmon column where I learned a new word. Here’s the gist:

When markets turn, more investors tend to want to take their money out. That's when victims of fraud find out the money has disappeared. The Bernie Madoff fraud is a prime example — it couldn't survive the downturn of 2008, since the higher Madoff marked his clients' positions, the more likely they were to want to cash out.

Until the point of discovery, the money is gone, but the victim feels no loss. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, writing in 1955, named this "net increase in psychic wealth" the bezzle, and explained that it invariably increases in bull markets, only to shrink when "money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye.”

As John Mills wrote in 1867: "Panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works."

No, Salmon’s column does not mention NFTs.

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