Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bankers Ready To Ride The Next Bubble

(pic from 1870's, can you believe it! History repeats itself, click on pic for bigger picture)

I hope we can agree that there is an inherent flaw with capitalism as we know it:

  1. There is far too much government intervention (subsidies, import duties and the infamous "bubble" interest rates, set by the Fed), creating red tape and sucking money out off all of us.
  2. Bankers have too much power, creating "innovative financial instruments", shuffling paper around & earning zillions, and contributing zilch to wealth creation
  3. Politicians and bankers are in a relationship which can be regarded as too cozy

The power to deal with these flaws lies with the same people who control them: the politicians and the banker.

So now what?

Change can only come from you and me. I guess there must be 100 million of us.

We deduct 80 million baby boomers who want politicians to fix their 401K, no matter what.

Which makes "us" 20 million.

I deduct 15 million people IN the system: bankers, hedge fund managers, financial advisors, accountants, assistants and their secretaries.

Which leaves us with 5 million.

We deduct 4,5 million civil servants. Which leaves us with 1/2 million people.

We deduct the main street media and this really leaves us and me.

So now we know why bankers are bouncing back:

Just waiting to ride the next bubble!

Bankers Bounce Back

New York Times by Eduardo Porter, May 17th 2009

There are probably good reasons to give Richard Fuld a job at the hedge fund Matrix Advisors. He is familiar with byzantine financial products: Lehman Brothers, the bank he used to run, gorged on them until it collapsed. He might know them enough to be more careful around them the next time.

Still, I can’t get over just how flawlessly bankers bounce. Charles Prince, fired for steering Citigroup toward financial collapse, found a new job as vice chairman of Stonebridge, a consultancy firm. Stanley O’Neal, who was given a $161 million parachute before being dumped for leading the toxic asset binge at Merrill Lynch, just joined the board of American Beacon Advisors, a financial advisory company. I wonder whether it wouldn’t be a better choice for these men to take a break.

People’s sense of justice is anchored to an expectation that providence will ultimately mete out retribution to those who wrong us. It doesn’t necessarily require an eye to be taken for an eye. But the public outrage over the multimillion-dollar bonuses paid to the financial wizards at A.I.G. suggests that people have trouble absorbing bankers’ uncanny ability to keep landing in finance’s glittering fold while regular mortals are left to suffer from the economic fallout they unleashed.

Sure, the United States prides itself on being the land of second chances. But the desire to punish wrongdoing runs deep. Evolutionary biologists suggest it was necessary for the flourishing of altruism — the willingness to share resources even at personal cost — which otherwise would have been driven out of the gene pool by egoists who would have hogged all resources and starved the selfless.

Today, public anger requires government officials to publicly excoriate bankers every time the government gives the banks more public money. If the banks need even more, President Obama will have to figure out a way to brave that fury.

Given the raw feelings, it wouldn’t hurt if one or two of the current crop of jobless bankers went off to distribute malaria nets in Africa or teach math in an inner-city high school. They could even use some of their money. Michael Milken set up a foundation and started a think tank, and today a lot of people think of him as a philanthropist rather than as the junk bond king who was jailed for securities fraud. For the next couple of years, maybe, I would also stay away from shorting G.M. or cornering oil futures.

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