Last week I sat on a panel debating whether or not the financial system was broken - an expansive question. My co-panellists took aim at various market inefficiencies, at manipulation and collusion within banks and government and at lapses of transparency and accountability.
These are all ever-present within the financial system - but they are the symptoms, not the problems.
Inefficiency, corruption and dishonesty are not financial system problems; they are human nature problems.
In any evolved version of our financial system - whether a return to the “honest days” of barter and exchange or a slip down the spiral of a central bank-issued digital currency - as long as humans are at the wheel, human nature is coming for the ride.
There will always be a subset of the population that is more aggressive, intelligent or acquisitive than others. There will always be winners and losers. Winners will push for rules that favour their lead. Losers will push for rules that even the score.
Life will always be like that.
You can point the finger at the systems, but we are playing a human game.
I have a good friend who criticizes me for focusing on personal wealth creation. He tells me I am too individualistic, self-centred and selfish. He points out that he, by contrast, is a collectivist. He thinks about his community before he thinks about himself. He has frequently asked me to lend him money. I oblige.
You can focus on changing the systems, or you can focus on mastering the game; both require the same investment of energy.