What are you thankful for in finance or economics?
It’s been a few days, I’ve been listening to Adele’s new album pretty much on loop while knitting and sewing curtains. So yes, it’s that nesting time of year, where we hunker down and seriously consume creamy spiked drinks.
And by “we” I mean Americans, Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders. Obviously we blame the hobbits on that last one.
Well, here’s a question for you nog-quaffers: what are you thankful for from finance? I’ll extend it to the economy as well if you’d like.
The reason I’m asking is that this week, the Slate Money podcast I’m on is doing a special “thanksgiving” episode where we all talk about something we’re grateful for, and I’m having trouble coming up with something. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
- I’m grateful for consumer loans. After all, they help us out in rough times and allow us to invest in ourselves and our futures through mortgages and student loans. On the other hand, they also raise the price of everything through their availability. In fact I spent a couple of weeks ago on the show arguing that all college debt should be forgiven and that state colleges should be free. So I don’t think this works.
- I guess I’m thankful for inflation, in a sense. I mean, inflation makes it easier on debtors, since their debt is constantly dwindling in value, and it’s certainly better for an economy than deflation. But on the other hand, it can get out of hand and that’s bad, and it’s hard to control. So in the end I’m not actually all that excited by inflation.
- I could just be grateful for the entire financial system working at all. If you think about how much we depend on its functioning, to take out loans, to use our credit and debit cards, and to get paid monthly, it’s kind of amazing. On the other hand, if you think about the way finance deals with poor people, squeezing them for nickels and dimes, then you kind of lose respect. In fact it makes you want to be grateful for the CFPB instead, but that’s not financial enough.
- Finally, I’m thinking about how much I appreciate insurance. Yeah, I know there are plenty of problems with insurance (for example how cray-cray medical prices are for those without insurance, but I tend to blame a lack of reasonable transparency regulation on pricing in medicine on that, not insurance per se). But if you just think about how much insurance actually does for us, whether it’s medical or fire or car or life insurance, then you appreciate that it more or less functions as intended: to even out the bumpy risks of everyday life.
I’m still thinking about this question, and I’d love to hear your ideas!