Ponzi schemes ... how do they think it will end?





Mathematically speaking, Ponzi schemes are doomed. They work by bringing in new investors to pay off old ones. In pure form, there’s never any actual business activity; the money just rolls backward from ever-increasing numbers of investors to keep up the appearance of profits. This means the scheme requires an infinite supply of new suckers.

Anyone sophisticated enough to concoct a Ponzi scheme — and con experienced investors and government agents, as the New York financier Bernard Madoff is accused of doing — must also be sophisticated enough to do the math here.

So how can Ponzi perpetrators possibly expect to extricate themselves from their ploys? Based on historical examples relayed by a few biographers, historians and finance experts, the exit strategies seem to fall into four general categories:


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