‘Puter’s more than passingly familiar with the financial services industry, the industry being pummeled the hardest (and deservedly so) by the current downturn. As such, ‘Puter’s been thinking about the many companies that have failed, and any commonalities among them. Here’s few of ‘Puter’s thoughts.
Businesses assumed the end of history. That is, many behaved as if the markets only ever moved one way: up. They ignored ample evidence of an inflating bubble in housing and overleverage in lending. The resultant bursting bubble and forced deleveraging was foreseeable. Similar circumstances occurred during the Great Depression, as illustrated in John Kenneth Galbraith’s great book The Great Crash:1929, which ‘Puter is currently re-reading.
Businesses did not know what they did not know. Many investment firms, with the advent of credit default swaps, arrogantly assumed that they had taken the risk out the market. It was commonly thought that markets had moved beyond risk, and the money was just there for the taking. The financiers did not appreciate that the unintended consequence of selling tranches of risk far and wide was to spread the destabilizing contagion around the world, rather than limiting it to its source. It is unusual for high level decision makers to be humble and honest enough to admit that their knowledge is limited, and to act accordingly. Most did not do so here.
Greed skewed the system at all levels. Homeowners used their homes like ATMs. Brokers fudged applications. Appraisers inflated their numbers. Banks lent on no documentation. Shareholders, directors and regulators looked the other way. Investors pretended credit default swaps had no downside risk. As long as everyone was making money, at all levels of the transaction, everyone was happy. Now that the system has collapsed, angry recriminations have started.
All of this can be explained by hubris. Heck, even the ancient Greeks knew that pride goeth before a fall. But being humans, we are unable to escape our tragic flaws forever, and a day of reckoning comes.
Should we have seen this coming? Yes. Why didn’t we see it coming? Because we’re humans.
And the cycle begins again.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.