What does the above show us? The change in my lifetime of our economy from an economy based one one that makes stuff to one that makes DEBT and shuffles risk and money from player to player, producing absolutely nothing What does the above show us? How drastically banks' asset and income producing structures changed in our lifetimes Evolution of critical derivitives* 1972 - 2005 1972 - Foreign currency futures 1973 - Equity futures 1975 - T-Bill Futures 1977 - T-Bond futures 1979 - Over the counter currency options 1980 - Currency swaps 1981 - equity index futures; Options on T-Bond futures; Options of bank CD futures; T-note futures; Eurodollar futures ; Interest rate swaps 1983 - Interest rate caps and floors; options on T-note futures; options on currency futures; opetions on equity-index futures 1985 - Eurodollar options; Swaptions; Futures on US Dollar and municipla-bond options 1987 - ASverage options; Commodity swaps; Bond futures and options compound options 1989 - three-month euro-DM futures; captions; ECU interest rates futuresl futures on interest rate swaps 1990 - Equity index swaps 1991 Portfolio swaps 1992 Differential swaps[/quote] If you don't know what most of these are, don't worry. Neither does the FED, if you believe Greespan These are methods of betting on various economic indices or outcomes, mostly. Dpending on your outlook these are either GAMBLES or they are way of spreading the risk around. The important point is they are "investment opportunities" which compete for investor dollars that might have gone into investments in that make something tangible. As you can see, Debt seems to be the USA's number one product of late. Total outstanding debt for all sectors was $44 trillion...of course what it is NOW I have no idea. Okay..the current debt of the US financial sector is greater than the gross domestic product for a years, folks. What's my point to showing you all these arcane numbers? If nothing else to show you what a fiscal house of cards we let our FINANCE COMMUNITY build for us. They sucked out so much of the investment that might have gone to producing THINGS in favor of creating derivitives that basically paid higher returns on investment...but only so long as nobody actually looked at the REAL RISK associated with these hybrid financial gambles.