Yesterday, I offered a few reflections about the value of thrift and the vice of debt. Scroll down.
There I was talking about household debt, which is so grossly disproportionate to household income and assets that we will need five to seven years to clear our family balance sheets.
Today, I am going to link an interview with Nassim Nicholas Taleb from NPR. Link here.
You may recognize Taleb as the author of a wonderful book called: The Black Swan: Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility". It's great fun, a brilliant guide to some of the more sophisticated thinking about the art and science of predicting the future.
Taleb believes that the world is addicted to debt, and that we need to stop indulging our out-of-control appetite for it. The more you feed that beast the more ravenous and uncompromising it becomes. Thus he advises severe austerity measures.
Others, most prominently Paul Krugman and the Obama administration, feel that the cure for too much debt is more debt-- that is, economic stimulus.
The question I raised yesterday, and that I would like to keep open, is simply this: when a nation is addicted to debt, when it functions on debt, how does that affect the behavior of citizens, their values and their virtues?