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The tragedy of the market problem

In this scene from Moonbeam Highway, Eddie and Cheyenne are talking about how Eddie lost his fortune in the Wall Street casino. It should be fairly apparent in the last paragraph what the discovery is, for those who don't know what it treats of, here's a link: Tragedy of the commons.

“What is this, an inquisition? You want to know more about me, you’ll have to open up, yourself.”

“I lost everything too, Eddie. But, I can’t address the lords of finance. The closest thing I have is you.”

“The nature of the game back then was to borrow at minimal short term rates against a higher long term yield, roll the debt over and keep the spread. The more you could borrow the better you did. Everyone was doing it. It was the only game in town.”

“Let me get this straight,” Cheyenne said. “You were borrowing short and lending long? I was taught in grade school that’s the one thing you should never do."

“Come to think of it, so was I.”

“And you still thought of yourselves as the Masters of the Universe?

“That was Tom Wolfe’s appellation for us, not ours,” Eddie said. “Anyone who’s survived a bear market doesn’t think of himself that way.”

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t get it. Your clients were paying you exorbitant fees to manage their money for them, and you couldn’t even play the game by its most basic rules?”

He was just about to say, as she paused, that nobody wins the game anymore playing it by the rules. Then it occurred to him everyone loses when nobody plays by the rules, or there are no rules to play by. The Tragedy of the Commons Problem, that wabbit from the hats of Economics profs -- the very same club of Elmer Fudds who never saw a bubble in an overcrowded trade -- pulled out in Econ 101 to lambaste the teachings of Karl Marx, and demonstrate the primacy of private property. But what’s sauce for the pasture is sauce for the market, especially when it’s unregulated. The bugaboo of communism is the oobagub of capitalism. But, before he was able to speak his mind, she finished her thought with a zinger. “What were you trying to do,” she demanded, “sabotage yourself?”