Sunday, November 23, 2008

and the prize for the dumbest explanation for the current economic crisis goes to...

...the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Daniel Henninger argues (OK, just says) that the reason why we are in this economic mess is because of a bunch of northern atheists who have no morals.

If were thinking: "wasn't it something to do with subprime loans, too much liquidity and a dysfunctional rating system?" then read on...

He starts off with
A nation whose people can't say "Merry Christmas" is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.
And then offers the following explanation...
What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.

Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down. And so we come back to the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."

It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.

The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.

Feel free: Banish Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max.

Wow. That has to be the stupidest thing I have ever read in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, and frankly, there has been a lot of competition. Of course, now that the Journal is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, we should hardly be surprised that the opinion pages sound like Fox news.

But the tired old argument that the only reason people behave well is because they are religious has been shown time and time again to be completely wrong. For example, see this article in the Times of London.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WSJ on Finance Jobs...

The Wall Street Journal today talks about MBA students who are moving away from traditional finance jobs (which in their world is investment banking) to alternative jobs (corporate finance). The article is not very interesting, but wins the "Duhhhh" prize for most obvious article to write about Finance MBAs.

Notably though, Risk Management is a hot topic.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Must the author of liar's poker

This is a must read piece. It is a little long, but well worth it. It is penned by Michael Lewis, the guy who wrote "Liar's Poker", and frankly it is really excellent. I won't spoil the punch line, but you pretty much know where his story is going once he gets started. Even so, the whole article is still compelling.

There are some great one liners in the piece: I liked this one...
“The single greatest line I ever wrote as an analyst,” says Eisman, “was after Lomas said they were hedged.” He recited the line from memory: “ ‘The Lomas Financial Corp. is a perfectly hedged financial institution: It loses money in every conceivable interest-rate environment.’ I enjoyed writing that sentence more than any sentence I ever wrote.” A few months after he’d delivered that line in his report, Lomas Financial returned to bankruptcy.

HT: Newmark's Door.