Capitalism Without Capital by Dimitris N. Chorafas (auth.)

By Dimitris N. Chorafas (auth.)

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A role is also played by the extent of spillover to other markets, and whether the process of adjustment takes place in an orderly fashion. There exists, therefore, no simple answer to the question: for how long will writeoffs and writedowns dampen lending? The response is further conditioned by how easily will banks be able to rebuild their capital, and which strategy they will follow in response to weaker balance sheets, as well as credit demand in the globalized economy – including emerging markets.

What they fail to recognize is that at the end of the day the options are limited and stark. A booming national debt Yankee style:51 • Dumps the current generation’s leverage on future generations, • Destroys the tax system, as high taxes lead the citizen to duck them, and • Brings the economy to its knees while leaving no money to better the quality of life. Some economists call the zooming national debt a fiscal cancer. In 2008 David Walker, a former head of the US government’s internal auditing authority,52 made it his mission to get the citizens and their leaders to understand and acknowledge the threat, and appreciate the fact that the nation’s financial condition is much worse than generally admitted.

In the 1970s and 1980s Walter Wriston, then the mighty CEO of Citibank (which later became Citigroup), argued that capital was wasted. 35 That’s not altogether a positive reference for the KRS zero-capital thesis. While it is true that Wriston was a brilliant person and that under his reign Citi led the other American big banks in terms of growth and diversification, this emphasis on growth at any price, steady expansion, and disregard for the capital basis led Wriston to lend excessively, particularly to Latin America.

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