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Fed Amputates Invisible Hand


Weak survive at expense of strong.

A week ago, the United States had the most efficient capital allocation system in the world.

Our free-market economy enabled money, credit and resources to be sent to the economic players who needed it. Entrepreneurs could raise money to start new, innovative businesses; researchers could seek out cures for diseases that touch millions of lives, as well as those that afflict just thousands; firms that made enough bad decisions went bankrupt.Minyanville's Why Wall Street Will Never Be the Same

The job of regulators was to ensure the system functioned and to set up rules by which honest business could be conducted. It wasn't a perfect system, but it was better than the alternative.

This is the alternative.

When government invades free markets to the extent it has -- specifically in the last 24 hours -- the system ensuring capital gets where it needs to be breaks down. Money is instead doled out to the firms well connected enough in Washington to lobby for handouts.

Beltway bureaucrats have been trying to rewrite this country's economic rules and protect Wall Street from its own mistakes for over a year. Still, the free market prevailed, punishing the firms that made the most egregious bets during the housing boom: Countrywide, Bear Stearns, IndyMac, Merrill Lynch (MER), AIG (AIG), Lehman Brothers, National City (NCC), Washington Mutual (WM) and Wachovia (WB).

According to our once-free market, these firms needed to be wiped out, gobbled up and liquidated, so real economic growth could take hold from a stronger foundation.

This morning, we heard many claim the government's actions -- temporarily banning short selling, the creation of a Treasury Department distressed-asset hedge fund, the establishment of a federal backstop for money markets, to name but a few -- were necessary to prevent a wider financial and economic crisis. The shortsightedness of this argument is astounding.

A couple hundred years ago, Charles Darwin opined that nature has long been engaged in weeding out the weak, protecting the strong. This natural ebb and flow of dominance according to a given species' inherent characteristics has governed the world's socioeconomic landscape for more than 4 billion years.

The actions taken overnight seem to refute Darwin's claim that Mother Nature can manage her own backyard. Adam Smith's invisible hand is capitalist Darwinism, moving the weak aside so the strong can survive.

To take that power away from the market is tantamount to shoving God aside and rewriting the evolutionary playbook.

The effects of these actions, this fundamental ideological shift from capitalism towards socialism, represents a seismic shift in the history of this country. The events of the past week -- and what it says about our collective ability to take our lumps, drink our medicine and recognize that the path to the ultimate goal is one littered with hairpin turns and drop away cliffs -- will not be lost on future generations.

The events of the upcoming months and years, whether we're content to continue to hand over more and more power to the few, elected and non-elected alike, will show the true mettle of the American spirit.
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