Thursday, June 9, 2011

Money Money Money!

I don't want you to think that I'm the kind of guy who reads the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis--because I'm not. In fact, if I ever become the kind of guy who reads the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis, just shoot me, OK?

I am, however, the kind of guy who will read just about anything that crosses my path, and unexpectedly, that recently included the Wall Street Journal. Two stories from the official mouthpiece of the "free market" fascinated me.

The first told the heart warming tale of some Captains of Industry who had been fired from their jobs as CEO's or CFO's or BFD's for things that sounded to my untrained ears very much like incompetence and yet they still retained positions, highly paid positions, on other companies' Boards of Directors. Why? Because evidently once you get on the merry-go-round you can never screw up enough to get kicked off the merry-go-round. And I guess ruining one company is no indication that you will ruin another, right? So why not? In fact, the Board of Directors of International Widget welcomes you with open arms and a trough full of somebody else's money!

The second story was about Wall Street's uncertainty over the new (and relatively weak) regulation of the $583 Trillion derivatives markets that will soon go into effect. I guess the wording of the Dodd-Frank bill is not as well defined as they'd like, which means they're not sure just what it's implementation will involve, which means they haven't been able to figure out just how much they can steal yet, and that lack of clarity is driving them crazy. Here's all you need to know about derivatives: Warren Buffett, who is not exactly a Marxist, called them "financial weapons of mass destruction" and considers them a "fool's game".

Looks like the severe punishment the Wall Street whizzes suffered after the 2008 meltdown really taught them a lesson, and we're right back to the "same old same old". Because, as it says in the fine print, "past performance is no guarantee of future results."

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