Tuesday, January 06, 2009


"OUR financial catastrophe, like Bernard Madoff’s pyramid scheme, required all sorts of important, plugged-in people to sacrifice our collective long-term interests for short-term gain. The pressure to do this in today’s financial markets is immense. Obviously the greater the market pressure to excel in the short term, the greater the need for pressure from outside the market to consider the longer term. But that’s the problem: there is no longer any serious pressure from outside the market. The tyranny of the short term has extended itself with frightening ease into the entities that were meant to, one way or another, discipline Wall Street, and force it to consider its enlightened self-interest."

the end of the financial world as we know it
michael lewis & david einhorn

why does it have to be forced? this is just exactly what's been so hard for me to understand about nearly every aspect of this economic wreck, and every corrupt corporate meltdown that led up to it, and all the ones that just keep coming: where is enlightened self-interest? how the fuck (b.madoff is just one clear example) did all of these people think things would end? were they hoping that they'd just die before anyone noticed that there was no substance to their claims?

it's not that i trusted corporations and financial advisers to be virtuous-- to the contrary, i "trusted" them (wryly, implicitly) to look out for their own interests with a machiavellian precision. i thought they were self-interest experts, and they've turned out to be a bunch of fucking amatuers-- their "self-interest" so stupidly managed that they couldn't so much as sustain themselves-- their decisions based, apparently, on a conception of self-interest so simultaneously hollow and overblown that to call it sophomoric is to give it too much credit. (bah-dum, ching.)

all i can conclude about this bewildering mess, finally, is what i generally conclude on nearly every topic: pretense is so tempting, but it will fuck you in the end.


Jane said...

Two words:

magical thinking

boo. said...

james surowiecki on moral hazards, self-interest and our economic debacle: