There's a really old joke about cows that explained different economic models.
You probably have seen it, but just in case:
You have two cows. You give one to your neighbour.
You have two
cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.
have two cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your
herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on
All well and good.
Now the last time I saw this, it had been updated to include the Enron crash back in 2001, which reflected the use of venture capital to farm:
You have two cows.
You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters
of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank.
You then execute a
debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all
four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights
of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island
Company, secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the
rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.
You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States, leaving
you with nine cows.
public then buys your bull.
Could we update this to reflect the credit crisis?
You have two cows and use them as capital to get another 100.
You need the 102 cows to have a better barn, and so you go to the bank who offer you a cheap loan to build a barn.
You build the barn using the 102 cows as collateral.
The barn is built, and so you think you could build more barns for other farms, and go to the bank to discuss.
The bank gives you funding to build another 50 barns, using leverage based upon the barn you now own.
You build 50 barns, and the bank offers cheap loans to the farmers to buy your barns off you, on the basis that they also have cows as collateral.
Then the guy you bought the 100 cows from demands the full payment, causing you to sell the two cows you originally owned as capital.
Realising you only had enough to pay for two cows, you are forced to return the other 100.
The loss of the 102 cows leaves you with an empty barn.
The farmers cannot pay for them either, as there are now too many cows on the market and they cannot sell any of their own to pay for the barns you built for them, which they didn't need anyway.
You're left with no cows and 51 barns you cannot use, but need to pay for.
The State believes farming is good, so they give you the money to pay for the barns, as well as two cows to get you started.
You have two cows and are now very wealthy having sold 51 barns.