A QUICK, LAZY, BUT TOPICAL POST.
SOMETHING MORE SUBSTANTIVE LATER TODAY.
When I began writing this blog way back in January, I never intended it to be so focused on the Jersey Child Protection Disaster – but that’s just the way things have had to go.
It was my original intention to write about – well, pretty much anything, actually. And my first posts dealt with the subject of economics and the looming recession caused by America’s sub-prime collapse.
Back then US Federal Reserve boss, Ben Bernanke was desperately trying to stave-off reality with interest-rate cuts.
On the 23rd January, I wrote a blog-post titled, ‘Laughing Boy in the Third – 50-1 – or Your Money Back!’ It’s in the archive if you want to read it all.
So I thought that post merited revisiting – given the present circumstances.
And today’s post is even quicker and lazier because I’ve reproduced in its entirety, the column by Mark Steel from today’s Independent newspaper. Mark’s writings are always insightful – and extremely funny. Today he writes, “Quick! These Bankers Need Rescuing!”
Looking back at my older posts, I’m also reminded that I used to always do a ‘book of the post’ recommendation, and a ‘joke of the post’. I stopped doing this when the child protection battle became altogether more serious.
But, perhaps in these grim times we need to share knowledge and a little humour – so maybe I’ll resume those features when I next do a substantive post.
In the mean-time, here is the conclusion of what I wrote back then in January – and below this is Mark Steel’s column.
Look out for another post later today – in which I’ll be talking about “The Pinball Wizard” – and related matters.
A quote from my blog of the 23rd January.
“Others have described Friday’s cash bale-out as “Social Security for the rich” – a very apt description.
It’s another illustration of just how far removed from reality the so-called “Iron Law of the Market” is. These people gambled – they took the “risks” that supposedly justify their $100 million bonuses – they brought their allegedly great skills to the table – and they blew it. They lost. And they lost not through some cruel trick of fate – but because they were gripped by a kind of collective stupidity; a misguided belief in some kind of miraculous bootstrapping pyramid scheme which could just go on and on.
Now ask yourself – if you or I cocked-up this badly in our jobs, what would happen?
Look at it another way. If you or I went down to the bookies and put our salary on Laughing Boy at 50-1 in the 3.10 at Kemptown – and it fell over – the full, inescapable “market” consequences of our actions would fall upon us.
Now imagine our hedge fund manager, banker or stockbroker who did the same. In the strange, parallel universe occupied by these people, they would just go down to the bookies and ask for their stake back.
And the bookies would hand it back to them – and for good measure, recover their losses off of taxpayers.
I’ve never gambled before, but hell, if this is how it works, next time I’m passing a betting shop, I’ll nip in and offer them this kind of arrangement.
Book of the Post:
The Party’s Over, by Richard Heinberg.
Joke of the Post:
Two economists find themselves locked in a dark dungeon. The hours pass, yet no guard comes with food. One says to the other, ‘don’t worry – when we get hungry enough our demand will generate the product.’”
TODAY’S COLUMN BY MARK STEEL.
Mark Steel: Quick! These Bankers Need Rescuing.
The Indipendent, 1st October 2008.
“The next move, presumably, will be to nationalise the country’s gambling debts. To revive confidence amongst blokes in betting offices, the Government will hand over £300bn to cover the money they’ve lost. Then a leading gambler will be quoted as saying: “This package goes some way towards restoring calm. The last week has been horrendous. One of my friends lost a ton on an 8-1 shot he’d been assured was a banker by a minicab driver.”
Another method might be to let the world’s share-dealers go bankrupt, and see if we manage to carry on without them. One advantage of this strategy would be the entertainment of seeing them fight the job losses. City traders would carry placards saying, “Stop the axe on Goldman Sachs!” Support groups would be set up that could hold collections in which people would be asked to donate riverside apartments to a fighting fund, as some of the bankers were undergoing such hardship they hadn’t bought one for over three months. But organisers of the fighting fund would have to be careful to keep some donations back until handed out as the Christmas bonus.
They’d certainly deserve our backing, as you get an idea of the nature of share traders from yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, which told us that after the rejection of the US recovery plan “there was disbelief among US traders who accused politicians of putting their own interests ahead of the American people”.
You see – even in this crisis, all they’re thinking about is the American people. They’ve never wanted the burden of accepting unimaginable salaries for buying and selling the same stuff, but they’ve soldiered on out of love for the American people. Well it’s time they understood there’s such a thing as being TOO selfless, and took a moment to consider themselves for once.
Their complaint was the failure to approve a $700bn bailout of failing finances, but it’s even worse than they fear. Because according to one commentator, one reason why politicians rejected the deal was that “they were receiving letters from the public running at 40 to one disapproving it”.
So it’s not just politicians, but the American people who are against the American people. Some of them, for example, might consider that $130bn to provide a National Health plan for all Americans for two years would be a better use of funds. Those poor traders must hold their heads in their hands and sigh: “It’s just ‘me me me’ with some people, isn’t it?”
So maybe there’s another solution. It seems that world governments will do anything at all, no matter how desperate, to revive “confidence” in the markets, as these markets, which are run by the dealers, control the economy. This means the dealers are far more powerful than governments. In which case, in the interests of democracy, instead of wasting time electing governments why don’t we elect the dealers? They could make speeches such as: “Let me assure the British people that, if elected, less of the wealth created by hard-working families will be taken by the state, and far more will stay where it belongs, with me.” And: “I apologise to my constituents for the embarrassing revelation that I’ve not been seen in an exclusive lap-dancing club for over a week.”
And one day we’ll all look back and wonder why we’d never thought of it before.