Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tick Tock

Not much to post of late. I'm summoning my energies for a series of articles reviewing the past and looking toward the future. I always look forward to these articles. They allow me opportunity to clear away the poor analysis and build upon the good.

In the meantime, let me entertain you with a poem, courtesy of the Financial Times' deputy editor Martin Dickson. If nothing else, the appearance of this now, after such massive recoveries in asset markets confirms the Socionomic/Elliott Wave thesis of a secular bear market in social mood. A secular bull market - like that during the S&L crisis or LTCM - is typically quick to forgive bankers for losses they have incurred to all. A year after the carnage and it seems that antagonism toward the finance industrial complex grows more rabid by the day. As it should. Pass this on to your friends.

The Bankers Who Wouldn't Say Sorry; A Cautionary Tale

(With apologies to Hilaire Belloc)

There was a time when naughty boys
Would have to forfeit all their toys,
And go to bed without their food
To force a new, repentant mood
Upon the wretched little toads,
Who flouted our great social codes.

Nor was blind arrogance a trait
That parents liked to inculcate.
They had regard for social graces:
Not for their offsprings’ haughty faces.
A beastly child engaged in folly
Would surely have to say: “I’m sorry!”

But now we live in debased times,
Sans punishment to fit our crimes
Our moral compass has got lost,
Or on the rubbish heap been tossed.
As in this cautionary tale of bankers,
Who came to look like social cankers.

You will all know the basic story,
In all its venal details, gory.
Of how a bunch of peerless clowns
Despite degrees – from Yale to Brown –
Behaved like schoolboys in the lab,
When teacher’s gone to smoke a fag.

Exuberant beyond all reason
(For this or any other season)
Fired up by dreams of starter castles,
Sardinian yachts and vineyard parcels,
They built themselves a strange device –
A ticking bomb, to be precise.

The trouble was they did not know,
It was a bomb ’twas ticking so.
They thought it merely marked the beat
That called them to stay on their feet
And dance away – to really bop –
To music that would never stop.

At last the bomb it ticked no more.
Instead it gave a mighty roar
Like some avenging finance demon,
And destroyed RBS and Lehman.
That made the bankers wail and yelp,
And rush to teacher for some help.

Faced with the imminent demise
Of all world banks of any size,
And thus of global finance too,
The state bailed out this sorry crew.
But were they grateful? Not a jot,
This arrogant and greedy lot.

“It wasn’t us,” was their refrain.
The regulators are to blame.
They failed to prick our growing bubble.
They are the cause of all this trouble!
And China too, and central bankers,
Who failed to give us decent anchors.

“And while we’re at it, let’s include
Those nasty hedge funds, brash and crude,
We may have lent them stock to play,
But not to short poor banks at bay.
We’re sad events turned out this way
But not to blame; nothing to pay.”

Their minds so tainted by success,
They could not see their gross excess
Had played a very major role
In this colossal world own-goal.
Amnesia can be a sickness,
But this denoted arrant thickness.

Their attitudes were so repulsive
The public backlash grew convulsive,
And dimly seeing that their wages
Just might be threatened by these rages,
Self-interest prompted some to say
“We’re sorry” – in a muted way.

But actions more than words do speak
And their repentance was skin-deep,
Just like the artful crocodile
Shedding fake tears beside the Nile.
(And while we’re thinking of the zoo,
A vampire squid swims into view.)

“It’s plain,” they said, “we do not need
Tough regulation. Do not heed
The cries of all those sad dimwits
Who want to break us into bits.
Our little hiccup now has passed.
Back to the gravy train – and fast!

“To moral hazard give no thought!
We see no need to get distraught.
Please rest assured God’s work we’re doing
(It’s merely taxpayers we’re screwing.)
The Lord to us has sent a sign:
Monopoly profits are just fine.”

How could these people fail to see,
Their debt to all society?
The short answer must surely be
A banker’s mind is conscience-free.
They grab the profits of risk-taking,
Leave us the losses that they’re making.

The politicians fumed and fussed,
But they were well and truly stuffed:
The banking system had to work
Or jobless men might go berserk,
Victims of a growth disjunction
Piled upon finance malfunction.

In short, the banks – still big and burly –
Had got them by the short and curlies.
So their response was rather vapid,
And not decisive, hardly rapid.
Bankers returned to their old ways,
Assured a life of Christmas days.

Too big to fail, too hard to tame,
They returned to their former game:
Taking risks of insane folly,
To stuff their pockets full of lolly,
Untroubled, with the certainty
Of a taxpayers’ guarantee.

It would be good to end this story
In a nice blaze of moral glory,
Like Hilaire Belloc’s clever tales
Where evil-doing always fails.
Alas, the only moral here
Is bankers just themselves hold dear.

But there’s a price we all will pay
If politicians won’t display
A little courage and crack down
Upon these unsafe, grasping clowns:
Another bomb is being built,
By bankers with no sense of guilt.

It’s ticking now, will louder tick
Unless we stop it, fast and quick.
For mark my words, believe this rhyme,
It will go off in five years’ time.
You’ll hear no end of sturm and drang.
When it explodes with a loud BANG!

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1 comment:

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