Could you avert the current fiscal crisis with a time machine?

For those of you who insist on set-up:

Let’s say that sick bastard Fabulous Creature decides to stop laughing at the economic chaos in favor of grinding our helplessness in our faces. To wit, he will supply any Doper who wishes with (a) access to his time travel machine enabling the Doper in question to travel back in time ONCE, but no further than 2000; (b) a hand-held telepathic gizmo that can be used on no more than 5 people to convince them that anything the user says is true. Say the word and name your destination, and he’ll pop you back to the time and place you name so you can try to avert the crisis. He’ll even let you take a nice cash stake to live off off, phony id’s that’ll fool anyone,and whatever documentation of the current situation you want on CD-ROM.

Now Fab is convinced that his personal history is immutable, so he’s not going to try to interfere with your noble efforts; he just wants to watch you thrash about because he’s tired of his Firefly: Season 10 box set. Even so, he doesn’t want you to profit, either, because he’s a jerk; he’ll have a minion watching you via time-travel repeater scope, and said minion will yank you back if you try to do something like win the lottery.

What do you do to change things–that is, where/when do you go, who do you contact, and what do you tell them?

Least interventionist option would be to go back and force Monica Lewinsky’s dry cleaner to offer a really unbeatable sale.

Other possibilities would include:

  1. Controlling the minds of the designers of the Butterfly Ballot

  2. Convincing George W. that his time was better spent as a dropout and drug abuser (perhaps by using the mind control device to deliver ‘Gods’ voice saying "It’s cool G.W., lets go get some brewskis!)

  3. Forcing Colin Powell to say what he really believed - probably something like: “Damn, that is some weak evidence here for WMDs. Let’s not go to war there, let’s just save that money for the upcoming banking meltdown, or some other worthy cause”

I’d use the hand-held telepathic gizmo to convince FC his time machine isn’t Y2K compliant to be sent back to 1900. Prevent the 16th Amendment from ever gaining traction by manipulating Taft in 1908. If that fails, manipulate Wilson to not sign the Revenue Act and Federal Reserve Act in 1913. If all that fails, I suppose I’d focus on the 18th Amendment and Volstead Act… if the Depression occurred, I’d probably interfer with the 21st Amendment. At that point the gizmo is dead and I’m in my 60s.

You only get one trip. And I’m fairly sure the mind-control gizmo is set to decapitate anyone other than Fab who tries to use it on Fab. :cool:

That is one trip.

If there’s no way around the 2000 lower limit, the answer to the question is “No.”. The current fiscal crisis isn’t something that started 80 years ago, much less eight.

NM; misread OP.

2000 is much too late.

Just cause it’s you, Der Trihs, I’ll adjust the time-skipper controls to allow you to go back to 1900. There will, of course, be unanticipated consequences.

If I were allowed to back in time, Phil Gramm had better avoid all dark alleys. That meddling asshole started all this and I hope he gets his due one way or the other.

#1) Go back several months ago.
#2) Convince Wall Street CEOs to give me their bonuses.
#3) Ludovic has successfully personally averted the current fiscal crisis.

(Step #3 could of course be more succinctly stated with just one word.)

Being evil and bored, Fab’s not going to interfere in a murder. But he’s not going to bother busing you out of jail, either. 'Sides, you think removing just one man will do it? You probably think you could avert WWII by kicking Alois Hitler in the balls until he was sterile, too.

Regardless, the asshole deserves a beatdown per week, every week, for the rest of his miserable life.

Been done. Clearly someone told Paul Krugman, but it didn’t help. :slight_smile:

Someone told Warren Buffett too, considering he forbid Berkshire-Hathaway from trading in mortgage backed securities over five years ago and called them “a time bomb”. Really, the writing was on the wall for this for a long time. Over a year ago I re-arranged my portfolio to get out of US based debt and buy foreign equities instead. I’m doing fairly well, I’ve lost some money, but less than ten percent and I expect them to bounce back. In fact if I had more disposible income I’d be buying.


On a more serious approach, there are several groups of people you could try this on.

Media - Get the five anchors of the top networks, or the executives who manage them, and give them your future knowledge.

Pro’s, widely disseminated knowledge of the coming crisis may help many people prepare for it, both by diversifying their portfolios, avoiding bad loans, not taking out home equity loans, etc.

Con’s, the media people have no real power to affect change directly and the financial people may counter-spin anything they do and say “well, this loan isn’t like the loan they’re warning you about.” or just re-structure the instruments to further hide their risk under layers of complexity.

Bankers, particularly the Fed and other Central Banks(China, UK, Germany, etc.)

Pro’s - They’re in a much stronger place to slow or stop the effects of cheap money on the marketplace. People won’t make bad loans if they can’t get money cheap.

Con’s - They’re not likely to do it. They would have to deliberately slow the economies of their countries, and that takes some serious political will and they’re not in the place to generate that. Most of them aren’t household names and would be replaced in their appointments if they started being all gloom and doom.

Private Sector - CEO’s and CFOs of big companies like Lehman Brothers or AIG.

Pro’s - They’re in positions to stop a lot of this. They have the influence, the power, and the direct control. They’re the ones being pilloried right now, and for many good reasons.

Con’s - They’re even less likely to do anything. Like Buffett, most of them saw this coming, and instead of trying to stop the whole thing, they were just trying to hedge their bets so they didn’t go down when the bubble popped. The ones at AIG and Lehman Bro’s just failed to hedge their bets properly.

Lawmakers - Phil Graham, senior finance chairs for committees, foreign finance lawmakers.

Pro’s - Probably in the best position to do something about it without a compelling personal interest in the opposite direction. They want their constituents to do well, and financial crisis doesn’t do that. They have the power to set regulations(or not repeal regulations) which can mitigate a lot of the damage or prevent it.

Con’s - Probably the WORST people to actually do something about it. The market is much more nimble than lawmakers, and even a few influential people can’t get the wheels of most modern legislatures moving fast enough to implement effective safeguards. Plus any legislation is going to have serious unintended consequences.

Governmental executives - Heads of state, cabinet members, ministers, etc.

Pro’s - More nimble than lawmakers, can change things without as far reaching effects. Have more of a media presence than subcommittee members. Many come from business backgrounds and have contacts within the industry.

Con’s - Vulnerable to public opinion and need co-operation from other factions(such as lawmakers) to fully execute a plan. Most wouldn’t survive re-election if they started preaching doom and gloom.

Individuals with media access and a reputation for being financial savvy - Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, etc.

Pro’s - They’re not beholden to shareholders or voters. They can say what they want and make the news every time. They’re all percieved as being VERY smart and people following their lead would probably do very well(as Buffett has proved).

Con’s - They have no real power to enact change. They can lead by example, but if this was a 62 TRILLION dollar industry built on buying and re-selling debt, there isn’t really anything they can do against that kind of scale.

So who are my picks?

Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.