Hence why I put bet in inverted commas - it's analogous because it's people guessing what will happen in the future and putting money on it but it's not entirely the same.It's much more complex than you imagine. I'll not go into it now, but 'bet' is the wrong word and positions *are* hedged. Needless to say, risk managers have learned from their mistakes. I agree that private companies should not be bailed out, for free markets to work correctly the weak have to fail. I'd argue that a lack of legislation both contributed to the issue's cause and meant that the banks had to be bailed. I don't think it could happen now that capital ratios are healthier.
I agree about the lack of legislation but we hear people in the industry talk about self/de regulation. Those regulations had to be put in place because some of those involved couldn't be trusted to make sensible decisions. Same as with people complaining about complicated tax law and how is should be simplified - it's become so complex because some people could not be trusted to work within the spirit of the legislation and took advantage, so it had to become more complex to close loopholes etc.
The increased liquidity is having to be enforced by legislation rather than common sense and prudence.
Although I feel most of the managers/traders etc are conscientious I think it's naive to say they've 'learned from their mistakes' - how soon after being bailed out did we have the markets issuing 'hands off' and 'stop interfering' messages to the state despite the fact without their interference a number of them wouldn't even exist anymore? Sadly it only takes a few to start slowly building up problems that will bite us on the arse in future.
if they had we'd have learnt from the Depression, we'd have learnt from the dotcom bubble etc but cyclically these situations occur again and again. We've heard numerous times that boom and bust won't happen again, but it does and I'm certain will again.
I think a large part of that is due to time as new people replace the old in the industry and didn't experience those times and end up repeating the mistakes, especially those who are greedy. It's not just markets that this is true of - it's not really a surprise we're seeing this rise in nationalism/populism at a time when pretty much all those who last experienced it and saw where it led are now dead. We don't learn the lessons of history and as such as doomed to repeat those mistakes.
Which brings me back to the original point of using financial growth as the main/sole metric of the performance/importance of a country. If you give a single metric it that much importance you'll inevitably get people chasing it and taking higher risks to achieve it. So it needs to be watered down as a performance factor.