Madoff’s fraud was so big that it is likely that most of the cash went back to investors during the Ponzi period. Ponzi got more than two-thirds of money for himself. The Madoff family are not multi-billionaires (as far as we know).

The UK shouldn’t worry about government debt: we were far more indebted following the second world war and a combination of inflation and economic performance soon made that disappear. I agree that government debt isn’t like personal or corporate debt, but even so, this seems a little laissez faire even for me.

The housing bubble burst in 2006 in the US – much earlier than I would have remembered. The article suggests that a consumer debt bubble is the connection between the Great Depression and today. How can we regulate that away?

The job losses are greater in the US at this stage than in the last two recessions, with no sign of a bottom as yet. That speaks for a longer recession with more pain.

Taleb and John Ross think that our hyperconnected infrastructure, complexity and use of leverage means that black swans are more likely. Think of the jets that are aerodynamically unstable, but fly thanks to computer control systems. Robb’s answer is community-based and resilient. [Incidentally, I hadn’t come across the concept of Schwundgeld: massively depreciating cash that gets you to spend now rather than later].