We're forever blowing bubbles

In Madoff We Trust

Ponzi/Pyramid/Chain Letter schemes are not limited to private fraudsters:
To a large extent, the same concept has driven the major asset bubbles of the last decade. Given the ridiculously high valuations seen by tech stocks and real estate during their respective booms, the only way the bubbles could be perpetuated was if newer "investors" could be found to pay even more outrageous prices (the greater fool). But when these new buyers balked, the whole structure crumbled. Although there was no Ponzi or Madoff to orchestrate these manias, the entire financial and economic apparatus of the country had successfully convinced the public that "investments" in tech stocks and condominiums were bullet proof and that the supply of new buyers was endless.

Unfortunately, the Ponzi economy doesn't stop there. A chain letter is no more viable when run by governments than when run by private citizens. However, government orchestrated pyramids have the advantage of required participation. As a result, they can maintain the illusion of viability for several generations. But the longer such schemes operate the larger will be the losses when they ultimately collapse.