Monday 22 September 2008

Paulson: Burying the dead and ignoring the murderers

Bones of the bull

That was really the week that was and just as we were about the pick the dry bones of the bulls [1] slain by the plague of lack of confidence in the desolate Wall Street the great chiefs of capitalism prophesied the breath of socialism upon the bones and the cows live again to milked dry by blood-thirsty hyena cubs.

No, certainly, the events of the last week cannot have passed anyone by and I kept my counsel for as long as I could till I flipped through the pages of the Economist that arrived in the post this afternoon.

The elevenses

Just after the letters and on page 11, eleven being the number of the chapter that Lehman Brothers wrote at the beginning of the week, a firm whose existence has been swallowed in the sands of time with an 11th hour buyout was reliving its past in an advertisement that proclaimed Merrill Lynch connects capital to opportunity.

It ended with “Our 94-year history of leadership in the financial industry has been a source of confidence for our clients in both good and challenging markets”.

I had to check if my magazine was current, it was, the advert had been paid for and basically the Economist was putting it out despite the fact that that 94-year existence had been terminated a few days before.

Dishonourable things abound

Now, if I were unaware of the events of last week, I suppose I would be expected to buy that bull with horns protruding like ones off a devil’s face mask and throw my money into the opportunity to see it swallowed up in great loss.

It was just over a year ago when I wrote about Baling Out Trust [2] which lamented the way the basic foundation of business following the dictum “My Word is my Bond” and its counterpart of trust had been eroded by dishonest, corrupt, vice-ridden and dishonourable practices.

In December I talked about how we were Fixing Capitalist Errors with Socialist Favours [3] ending my comment with the thought that these actions would create more problems in the future and that none of it had yet begun to unravel.

People were not focused on where the problem was as they got distracted with the idea black holes would be created by the Large Hadron Collider which is since been shut down [4], a more menacing black hole was busy swallowing banks and financial institutions in the United States in the United Kingdom.

Cleaning up a no-crime zone

Whilst these events require a lot more analysis what I see is simply this – guys with big guns came into town with a swagger and 10-gallon hats banging on tables, ordering the most expensive drinks, cavorting in wanton orgies with the women and having a raucous moment allowing the occasional tips to the locals who dared to join in.

Along the way there was something approaching complete social breakdown and a few of the guys were brought in for questioning, smacked on the wrist and let go.

By the time we knew it there were a good few dead bodies on the street and no one could do anything about it that it raised up the foulest stink everyone stayed indoors.

The sheriff walks in and says “We need this to be clean and to be quick”, and we need to get it in place [5], we’ll clear up the dead and bury them in the community playground, that may clear up the stink – meanwhile no one is worrying about the murderers, they are still walking around with big guns, probably with a little less ammunition, drinking less and having a low profile around the bar.

We need to get rid of the stink because no one is coming out unto the streets, nothing else matters.

The whiff of nothing

The funny thing is the dead are still in the streets, the stink is still there but in expectation of the clear-up – the stock markets are already behaving like the town is as pristine as a spring garden.

Well, in fact, let us pretend there has been no murder because by the time we do the forensics we would only have bones to exhume.

We are back to where we started and the vicious circle begins again and no one really paid for the crimes of the past rather the community lost their playground to an impromptu cemetery and anyone who dares to go out to play at night knows never to go out there again.


[1] - Passage Lookup: Ezekiel 37:4-5; Reference to a passage where Ezekiel prophesied to the dry bones in the valley

[2] Baling out trust []

[3] Fixing Capitalist Errors with Socialist Favours []

[4] BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Hadron Collider halted for months

[5] Paulson: Plan Needs To Be "quick" And "clean", By Patrick O'Connor - CBS News

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