Friday, April 23, 2010

Doubts

The blog has been pretty much skimming the surface recently, so I guess it's time to dig a little deeper to reconnect with it.

I will confess that, given that I've paid the bills for the less decade or so thanks to the financial services industry, the continual revelations of miscreants and misdeeds of recent weeks, months, and years have been discomforting. It's not that I'm an idiot and I think that everyone in the industry is pure as the driven snow, but at the end of the day you don't want to think that you've spent your life in service of evil.

Today's headline in the Journal was particularly disturbing, as it chronicled accusations that Rajat Gupta, a Director at Goldman Sachs and Senior Partner Emeritus at McKinsey, had tipped off Raj Rajaratnam of hedge fund the Galleon Group about Warren Buffett's September 2008 investment in Goldman Sachs. Now, Gupta had already been implicated in the insider trading ring centered around Galleon, so what was the big deal, you may ask?

I don't know where you guys were in September 2008, but I was on Wall Street, physically there, on the beach at my consulting firm, and in many ways I've gotta say that the fall of 2008 was as stressful if not more so than the fall of 2001.  Standing on the street and watching the Twin Towers burn was surreal, living down the street from where the anthrax letters were mailed and working at Rockefeller Center where several were mailed to was bad, but the fall of 2008 was beyond that because cause and effect were so distant and it was so hard to isolate the bad guy. So when Buffett plugged $5 billion into Goldman and stanched the bleeding, it was a huge moment.  Someone -- and someone with a lot of credibility -- had stood up and said he didn't believe what was going on made sense and I actually slept better that night.

So when it turns out that this scumbag, who surely had no need of money or anything, was insider trading on that, at that particular moment, is just beyond the pale. And, while I've not been right at the center of it, as the various misdeeds here, there, and everywhere come to light, it's hard not to feel tarred by association.

Meanwhile, last night, I had done a little research on the big Shakori Hills festival down in Chapel Hill this weekend, and read up about the venue and what it's about, and it's hard not to sit here and think:  "what the fuck have I been doing the last 20 years?"  I could have been making music, doing something worthwhile. Well, at least somebody has.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

No offense but it is quite obvious that obfuscation and frank theft are commonplace in the "financial services industry". Financial firms of all stripes are out to make money. Unless the firm is really a mutual company, corporate organizations exist principally for the material benefit of the corporate managers. Shareholders, customers, sometimes even owners are not the primary concern. Once someone realized that one could become wealthy simply by being involved in the transfer and handling of large amounts of money, the race to create complex and oftentimes extraordinarily risky financial instruments was on. It's insulting to hear someone at AIG state that a bonus of seven figures is necessary to retain the talent and experience to rescue a business the talented, experienced people bankrupted. I wish the government had taken their free market idealism to heart in the midst of the financial crisis and allowed the system to fail. The banks got liquidity, wrote off or paid down their bad debt, and loaned money to no one. Bravo!

Katherine said...

Start your own firm, Shakori Hills Idealist Of Money, or such. I'd invest with you. It would be a blessing to so many folks, to have safe guidance.

Niklaus Steiner said...

I'll totally invest in Shakori Hills Idealist Of Money.

Or how about bringing back Apple Chill circa 1977.

Niklaus