Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is it a lie if you believe it?

The anti-hero George in the TV show Seinfeld once says something to the effect that it ain't a lie if you believe it. Do financiers understand that at the best of times their industry contributes far less to society than the rewards they have claimed would suggest and that their actions are now directly responsible for destruction of wealth on a massive scale, which simply put means worse lives for everyone - more preventable deaths, lower living standards, higher unemployment - than need have been the case?

The FT's John Kay has had a ringside seat in London, and offers his view in today's paper:
It would be consoling to believe that these individuals know in their hearts they are at fault, but are advised not to admit it. If you are in a road accident, every decent human instinct is to say “sorry” but the small print of your insurance policy dictates otherwise. However, mostly these titans of finance do not experience regret because they do not feel it. They truly believe they were victims not villains, that if the world does not allow them to make large profits the fault lies with the world, and that government agencies should protect them from the consequences of their own actions. They prattle about free markets and the evils of government but deny personal responsibility.

I think that's a no.

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