No. Not Trump Tower & Times Square traffic at Christmastime. Nor gridlock in government. It’s the new global economic reality. Coined in the U.K. JAM = Just About Managing. Families who are living paycheck to paycheck. Just getting by. At best. Brexit voters and Theresa May. France’s LePen backers. Italian anti-Renzi renegades. Trumpsters in the U.S.A.
It’s the economy all the way. Class stratification across ethnic, political and ideological labels. There were lots of non-white faces at that Carrier plant in Indiana. Get it elite donor class? Leave your safe spaces. Understand the working-class voters. It’s a new day.
Glass-Steagall resurrection won’t heal the banking system. Segregating commercial and investment entities never worked. Senior executives were always able to peer over the so-called Chinese wall. Amalgamations have caused unwieldy national behemoths.
Incompetence at the top. Incestuous Boards. Obscene compensation assured. Cue Stumpf. Wells Fargo’s dufey CEO. Typical of the genre. Isolated from business units. De-centralized disparate cultures left to their own devices. By the time the OCC gets involved at least 5 years of fraudulent practices to rein in. Fire a bunch of low-level guys as a PR stunt.
Too big to manage. Too big to fail.
Quantitative easing no longer works. Central Banks and The Fed have run out of pills for an arcane anemic global economy. Interest rates are at 0%. Sub-zero is not a fix to stimulate. Neither Cialis nor Viagra. It’s back to basics. Bump and grind. But, how and what? Robots replacing assembly lines. Retail on life support. Replacement therapy necessary.
President Obama trashes Trump during State of the Union. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley also trashes Trump during her Republican Response.
Ted Cruz criticizes Trump for having New York values. Jeb Bush makes fun of Rubio’s Cuban high heeled boots. Trump says Cruz is a Cuban-Canadian.
Bernie Sanders, a 74-year old Socialist from Vermont who sounds like Larry David is beating Hillary with Democrat youth. Hillary is sending out Chelsea as her new attack dog. Bill Cosby took hubby off the table.
Oil is below $30 a barrel. PowerBall is over $1 billion.
As an asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, Halloween looms large. That’s not the scariest prospect. Migrants and tax reclamation battles rattle the EU’s existence. As Germany’s solid state is shattered by its decision to accept so many streaming in from Syria, Netherlands and Luxembourg are being told to collect revenues from large corporations Starbucks and Fiat. A Euro tipping point?
Meanwhile, Canada joins the nationalistic global trend as it elects the populist son of Pierre Trudeau. What does this bode for the U.S. election? Domestic quake of our own. Trump v. Sanders? Could be. Who knows?
An ancient vampire is poised to suck the blood out of the EU. Taking the world markets with it. Count Drachma may emerge from his crypt. Will the ruble now see daylight? Euroland is vulnerable to a global financial bite. Twenty years later than I’d guessed, the death knell of a continental experiment.
Talk about ghoulish. Finally watched first two new True Detectives. Nic Pizzolatto rises again. Brilliant.
Pope Francis made an earth-shattering revelation. He actually took a page from the Good Book. God loves all those who love each other. Now Catholics can, too.
Doctors should not be spokespersons for Ebola messaging. Medical speak can be both inflammatory and misunderstood. Panic ensues. And speaking of shocks. Pauley Perrette, an actress on NCIS had a severe allergic reaction to her black hair dye. It can be deadly. Ring. Ring.
If you believe your Master Card debt is held at the savings & loan around the corner, read Jake Halpern’s new book Bad Paper. Even small community banks are bundling and selling off assets. So, don’t expect your nice neighbor at the customer service desk to call you when your payment is late.
Mad Grads. Make up your minds, seniors at Smith. One of few remaining all-female colleges. Do you want to see women succeed? Break the glass ceiling? Become leaders on the global stage? Christine Lagarde would have been the perfect speaker at your graduation because she has accomplished all you pretend to desire. You could have learned so much from hearing her perspective. Would you rather a man lead the IMF, banks, businesses? Plus, there’s that free speech thing. They don’t teach that at Smith? You have a great Economics Department. Its professors all disagree with your protests. Good for them!
5/15: I so agreed with Tim Egan’s column, “The Commencement Bigots”. My comment was a NYTimes pick. As an alum of Mount Holyoke, the first and still all-women’s college, I was all the more disappointed in Smith students’ protest of Christine Lagarde, the first woman managing director of the IMF, as this year’s speaker. Women’s Liberal Arts Colleges were founded on the principles of open-mindedness and respect for all opinions. In all walks of life. Not exclusively but most especially those of highly accomplished women.
Taking a few days to recover from MadMen7 episode this week. Bad Betty is back. She was a bit nicer mother when she was fat. Don’s continued connection to Megan is confounding. Ménage à trois notwithstanding. His career strategy seems feckless. And where is Weiner going with the nipple-slashing cray cray storyline? Is it that the Ad World will ultimately turn everyone truly Mad?
Over at Thrones, Tyrion’s soliloquy rises to Shakespearean superlative. Dinklage tour de force. And the rest of it. Talk about madness. Delicious.
The Perfect Prey, The Fall of ABN AMRO, or What Went Wrong in the Banking Industry, by Jeroen Smit. I came across this book, written by a Dutch investigative journalist, by chance. After the recent tragic murder-suicide by former CEO Schmittmann was reported in the NY Post, I did some research as an ABN AMRO alum, and one of its former Managing Directors. I found the paperback and it read like a novel. Here is my Amazon review:
‘A stilted translation to English may be some of the reason for my 3 stars. But, the story was well told and compelling- the demise of a once prestigious global financial institution, ABN, which prided itself on being a member of each community it served in over 70 countries, rivaling only Citibank. When the corrupt AMRO merged with ABN, began le deluge. I became unwittingly embroiled in an unethical transaction with the saga’s central character, AMRO’s R. Groenink. A lot of the players are known to me from my tenure at the Bank in San Francisco and Boston in the 80’s and 90’s. Lex Kloosterman was my boss. After I retired, he went on to Fortis and was instrumental in the tale and ultimate sale. There is probably not a wide audience for this book. I would recommend it as an allegory- too big yet failed. A moral tragedy.’
Quite the odd couple. They want to reinstate Glass-Steagall. Good intentions. But, it’s an anachronism. We’ve entered the electronics age. Even if banks segregate at-risk assets on commercial side from investment deals, the risk just shifts. The entities still rely on profits from split-second trades, derivatives and new instruments invented way ahead of the regulators ever catching up.
Problem persists. Power concentrated in a few U.S. Banks. Each too big to fail.