The Funniest 750 Words of the Financial Crisis

Hat tips to Uncle Billy and Felix Salmon:


1. Explain why you want to attend law school.

“I want to attend law school because I want to make a difference in the world. My desire to attend law school has nothing to do with the fact that I was recently fired from my job as an analyst at an investment bank, where I worked in the mergers and acquisitions group. Since January, I’ve worked on approximately one merger, zero acquisitions, have played Spider Solitaire 434 times and updated my Facebook status, on average, five times a day. …”

It only gets better.

(Unfortunately, I suspect it’s about nine months too late — I imagine most analysts at Goldman and Morgan Stanley are quite happy there these days, thank you.)

By James Kwak

12 thoughts on “The Funniest 750 Words of the Financial Crisis

  1. James,

    While that post is amusing satire, it as a bit off target.

    The fictional analyst has only been out of business school (I will assume he/she got an MBA) for four years, which implies that he/she is 26 years old and a victim of the Reagan/Thatcher/Friedman “there is no society” meme.

    Why wouldn’t a smart person of that vintage who, in a prior generation would have been funneled into an actually productive profession, and who has been treated like royalty for creating BS mathematical models that accentuate the assymetrical nature of investing information to benefit her/his employers at the expense of investors, reasonably believe that she/he could be this honest without consequences? The problem is the institutions we’ve built up, not necessarily the people that have grown up within them.

    This fictional person is much as a victim of the current system as anybody else. I find no solace in mocking him/her. Humor, yes. Solace, no.

  2. This is WAY off topic. But I am hoping James and Simon will allow this since the above post is a little more casual than usual. If James decides to delete this that’s fair and I don’t have a problem with that.

    I think Andrew Sullivan is one of the better bloggers on the ‘net. He takes things a little too far (with his theories on Sarah Palin’s child) sometimes, and sometimes he offends me, but his writing is outstanding, he’s very good at filtering and picking up jewels off the blogosphere and reading him is just very intellectually stimulating. And even when Sullivan makes you very angry, you feel he’s writing his sincere honest feelings so (usually) you can forgive him. He was on the Joy Behar show recently and I just thought it was a fun interview (unconnected to banking mess). They do talk about government spending so maybe Mr. Kwak will let this post slide on that.

  3. Based on real quotes I’ve seen, this sounds very close to their typical mindset, right down to the fig leaf “social consciousness” alot of them have. (I bet plenty of Goldman cadres actually consciously believe in that potemkin “charity” which dispenses neoliberalizing pennies with such fanfare.)

    But I bet plenty of them would happily steal someone else’s seat or read their mail.

    As for how he enjoys tying his tie, he sounds like this guy:

    It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
    When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
    I arise, I face the sunrise,
    And do the things my fathers learned to do.
    Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
    Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
    And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet
    Stand before a glass and tie my tie.
    Vine leaves tap my window,
    Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
    The robin chips in the chinaberry tree
    Repeating three clear tones.
    It is morning. I stand by the mirror
    And tie my tie once more.

  4. Happy? Perhaps.

    However, ‘anxious’, ‘conflicted’, ‘doubtful’, and ‘cynical’ would all be equally applicable. Also, ‘humble’ and ‘lucky’. And some are ‘delusional’.

  5. You know there is a lot of kind of dark humor about this, no doubt about it. I like Calvin Trillin’s poems, and economic crisis cartoons in the New Yorker. I’ve had some twisted laughs, I admit that. But when I think of blue-collar people who lost their jobs in California and therefore couldn’t make their mortgage payment and therefore lost their house, or think about the black family in Cleveland who was making consistent monthly payments on their apartment, but were thrown out because their landlord went under, or think about some family in Miami Florida living in an abandoned home with their children because they have no other place to go, and they keep wondering when the police will be knocking on the door, the chuckles just don’t come so easily. And I wonder what their resume looks like now… because some people don’t have the Plan B of law school.

    My father had problems finding a job for a segment of time in the 1980’s. And when you’re eating generic brand macaroni and cheese on odd days of the week and canned pork and beans on even days of the week, life just isn’t such a barrel of laughs.

    So when I think of guys like Barney Frank (who doesn’t seem to be taking reform of derivatives too seriously now) or Phil Gramm who made swaps unregulated, or James Cayne playing bridge in Nashville, or some of AIG’s creditors hesitating to take a “haircut” with America’s entire economy riding in the balance…. Pent-up rage really doesn’t describe the half of it.

  6. Personally I doubt he cares. In fact sometimes, for a brief shining moment, I get the suspicion that he tries to make his network so ridiculous as to parody itself. Then I realize people around me in Texas actually believe it, and I die a little bit inside.

  7. “Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

    –George Bernard Shaw

  8. This is pretty fascinating. Everyone is this kind of position should be watching the movie “The Family Man” which depicts the real potential transformation that can occur. I agree with the fig leaf comment as to any real decency, since Harvard (and all of the Ivy League schools teach an essentially liber curriculum, until they go to get their MBA’s or JD’s). Why do you think that less than half of the MBA candidates who graduated from Harvard’s program this year would sign a morality pledge. They have learned the art of honest disingenousness. It’s tough to do, but, after all, they are the best and brightest we have in non-science curricula. When greed is your doctrine, even Christian greed, if applicable, why sign something that someone can hold up later to remind you of your faux high mindedness.

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