6.05.2012

The Next Great Bubble

The history of Western economic systems, while marked on balance by successes, has also been pocked by spectacular failures. Notable among the failures of capitalism have been the numerous bubbles which have devastated the investor class (as well as those caught up in, but not benefiting from, the machinations of the markets). From tulips to internet stocks, history has unveiled the startling truism that the behavior of those who invest is marked by irrationality far more than the orthodox literature would predict.

Anyone who has been paying attention to such things will be familiar with the bubble of housing crisis-proportions which has been developing in the student loan space in America. Personally, I am not sure what the answer is when it comes to solving student loan crisis. For one, my thoughts have been muddled by the fact that I have a horse in the race. In addition to a personal stake in an outcome which could be forgiveness, I am also struck by the very esoteric nature of the questions at the crisis' core. 

What is an education worth? Should everyone strive for one? Is it in the government's best interest for everyone to get an education? Should educational institutions be so driven by enrollment numbers? All of these questions and many, many more drive to the core of value judgements which are probably more critical (and complicated) to answer than 'is tuition too high' and 'are debt levels too great.' Of course, all of these issues are intertwined, and it doesn't seem like they will be so easy to unravel.

Despite my uncertainty regarding the best solution to this very systemic issue, I have been trying to take in as much information as possible about the root causes and implications of this next great bubble and am happy to share resources with readers as I come upon them. In that vein, CNNMoney has a nice piece (and terrifyingly depressing graphic) on the topic here.

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