“Matress” is a Game That Gets Old Fast

Remember those days when “all” the economic news was cheery? Remember when you felt like everybody “else” was making tons of money? From the hedge fund to the venture capital clicks, if you weren’t an insider, at least, you could put your money in the market and feel like a player. Money was flying faster than a speeding bullet, only even Superman couldn’t stop it from falling. Today, the only money game anyone wants to play is: Matress. That’s where most people are putting their money.

Interesting isn’t it? A year ago, almost none of the journalists were writing about the problems we now face. No one was talking about the remotest possibility of an implosion with Bear Sterns or Lehman. Headlines today are radically different than they were then. And just as few people were writing about the flaws in our economy, few people are writing about the positives that could come out of this situation.

Frankly, I’ve had enough about Doomsayers.

Just as I was raising my eyebrows about effervescent cheeriness over the last five years, I’m frustrated with the broken record of doom in the media.

That’s why I  liked the somewhat positive item Friday about economist Raghuram Rajan in the Wall St. Journal. The 2008’s economic crises was created by a confusing nexus of ill-advised policies, laws, and practices. Shell-shocked, we grapple to understand where to go from here. In that context, Mr. Rajan’s efforts to improve financial structures, even if not front page news, was, for my money, the paper’s most valuable piece of reporting. In fact, I wonder, why wasn’t it on the front page?

By now, it’s pretty clear that what happened did not have to happen. It was not Fate-that is until we made it so with so many collective mistakes. We all bear responsibility. All of us as individuals, elected officials and government agencies, and corporate leaders wrote our future with foolish choices and our lack of understanding, even at the highest levels, as to what we were doing. Like drunken teenagers playing chicken driving 100 mph toward a brick wall, we acted as if there were no undesirable consequences to any risky behaviors.

The unchangeable past is over. What matters is the still malleable future. I just hope we have learned enough to minimize even worse damage and that Mr. Rajan’s uncommon sense to create a greater individual downside to risky behavior will win the day over repeating the past.

I’m already tired of playing matress. I’m interested to know who out there in the world is creating value, full of innovation? Because as surely as no one was talking about the problems a few short months ago, there are plenty of good solutions and places where money is to be made. Right here. Right now.