Sunday, September 6, 2009

Coming up next: The Death Bubble

Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.

George Bailey, It's a
Wonderful Life (1946)

Remember when the ├╝ber-banks--you know, the ones that were "too big to fail?"--made all those sub-prime mortgage loans, bundled them, then divided them back up, and put them out on the market again? Remember how that worked out?

Here's some exciting news: Their next plan is to do the same thing with your life.

After the mortgage business imploded last year, Wall Street investment banks began searching for another big idea to make money. They think they may have found one.

The bankers plan to buy “life settlements,” life insurance policies that ill and elderly people sell for cash — $400,000 for a $1 million policy, say, depending on the life expectancy of the insured person. Then they plan to “securitize” these policies, in Wall Street jargon, by packaging hundreds or thousands together into bonds. They will then resell those bonds to investors, like big pension funds, who will receive the payouts when people with the insurance die
Of course, from the banks' point of view, there's a snag:

The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return — though if people live longer than expected, investors could get poor returns or even lose money.

Talk about "moral hazard." If you like having your health traded on the stock market by the insurance companies, you'll love this.

All those homeowners currently shuffling off their mortgages (the word comes from the Latin root for "death") when the payments got too steep? Next round, they'll be shuffling off their mortal coils.

Anything that can be monetized must be, including the date of your death. That's the American way.

You're worth more dead than alive!

Henry F. Potter, It's a
Wonderful Life (1946)

1 comment:

Wilson said...
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