‘Don’t mis-underestimate me’
–George W Bush
There’s a lot of ‘mis-underestimating’ going on when it comes to versions about ‘who, why, what, where and how?’ concerning this awful mess known as ‘financial meltdown’. One thing for sure is that no one is doubting that it’s origins lie in America – though give it time and no doubt some will start coming up with alternative, ‘bum steers’ tending to breed like rabbits, so it goes.
Another thing for sure; this meltdown will go down in History, as infamy.
George Orwell was as prescience personified when he wrote about the re-writing of history after it had occurred – but there’s an opportunity here for someone to write history before it occurs.
After the fashion of the following, perchance:
“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Can we all agree, that particular past is over? – as George W Bush could put it.
Thing is, there’s only a limited number of candidates for the blame to be pinned on for this particular reality of financial meltdown.
Monumental failures require monumental figures to blame, lest we are to be reduced to chaos theory and the contemplation of flutter of butterfly wing commensurate.
But for the moment, ‘Made in Wall St.’ is generally accepted.
Now the thing with this is, albeit as POTUS 43 can often make one wonder which village missing an idiot when earpiece or autocue malfunctions, and he goes ‘extempore’ in deviating from the rehearsed rather than just standing there, looking puzzled in his vacuity as expression of personal tragedy, reminding one of Margaret Thatcher’s remark concerning Ronald Reagan and ‘nothing between the ears’, and to cause of contemplation over what pre-requisite must be for such Office these days – there is yet something revealing in his ‘mangle idiosyncratic’ of language.
This particularly concerning his warning about ‘mis-underestimating’.
Viewed in such light of George W Bush’s warning; Henry Paulson should not be ‘mis-underestimated’.
Henry Paulson may seemed to have been an idiot flying in the face of all Economic sense when he proposed his initial ‘Bail Out’ plan, as involving buying up all toxic debts using funds from public coffers, and promotion by example of World’s biggest economy of this as being the model for other troubled economies to follow, and as there being no alternative – as explained graphically behind closed doors to ‘select’ American audience, and as required two votes before being enacted.
But a lot depends upon what interpreted as Economic Sense – and what seen as following from it.
Suppose someone said to you they were going to start a business, and were going to sell things below the price at which they bought them for. Quite naturally you would tell them that isn’t business, that’s philanthropy – and won’t last long.
Then comes the qualification, delivered with Wile E Coyote like wink and nod; shade of ‘aha’ moment shared and ‘passively conspiratorial’ in the knowledge of intent thereby – causing feeling of being privy to scheme merely by the on looking at it’s progress, ‘extraneous’ factors grasped – as unseen by intended ‘victim’.
It is explained only some things will be sold below cost, and they will be amongst other things well above cost, and with healthy margin.
Then you may think ‘aha, loss leaders!’ as buried deep within Emporium and as requires searching for while making other purchase, may think of the ‘wheel of retailing’ as turning, and possibly end up contemplating generic strategy concerning ‘cost leadership’ or ‘focus’ – not to mention ‘differentiation’ – if you are of such mind.
But Henry Paulson isn’t just ‘starting up’ in business, he’s been ‘around the block’ as they say, in his time. (And yet to be made familiar with a different kind of block apropos of career prospects, courtesy of role current financial debacle?
But not to digress.)
When old Henry says something about Finance, one should listen hard beneath the pedestal, and be wary of ‘mis-underestimating’ such wisdom as he castes pearl like; as emanates acoustic through lips from monumental financial brain as testimony to the intellectual power of neurophysiology, resplendent in integration fostered in the learning Empirical under exactitude of discipline; such as is lifetime in the making.
This isn’t some ‘two bit shyster’ or ‘neighbourhood loan shark’, this guy knows ‘Finance’ inside out, backwards and sideways, and he occupies a highly respected position of great civic responsibility and eminence in the World of Global Finance.
So it would be very easy to ‘mis-underestimate’ Hank, as he is known to his friends, and this is why: ‘what Hank says should be listened to very carefully’ is as serious contention.
The man is a veritable monument to American Financial Acumen, and all that the Free Market, not to say Free World, can produce as glory to be beheld, such context.
Herein a small attempt at understanding what ‘Hank’ was really meaning when he appeared to fly in the face of all economic sense, when he appeared as an idiot – to those ‘unworthy’ individuals without understanding or appreciation of his unique shining light.
For to know ‘Hank’ is to appreciate him, I suspect.
The key thing when trying this instance to avoid ‘mis-underestimating’, is to look at the example he was trying to set for other Economies – in particular those as were soon to be represented at the G7 meeting.
My understanding is that Henry knows a thing about such as ‘loss leaders’, and of once you get them ‘penned’ in the Emporium then they are there for ‘the fleecing’, following our earlier given retailing business example.
You see Henry did indeed know there was an alternative, but that, in the bigger picture as he could see – it had to be foregone, as some kind of ‘opportunity cost’ no doubt. The key thing was that other economies had to play ‘follow my leader’, helped along by the shock and awe precipitated by the fall of Lehman Brothers. (And there you were, wondering why ‘that one’, following political vernacular ‘Old Macky’, was ‘allowed’ to fail, thereby querying anomaly in pattern discernible? – see how easy it is to ‘mis-underestimate’?)
Henry Paulson is a genius I tell you, a veritable ‘Master of the Universe’ concerning contingency and causal relationships; all is but as grist to the unique dynamic as is his own personal mill Financial.
His name should be written in stone, monument erected aloft of plaque inscribed– as lesson to us all.
Well, maybe not quite ‘all’ – light of last word penultimate sentence above as qualification in mine humble attempt at eulogy – and given the following interpretation of sequence of events apropos of the delivery of coup de grace in ‘scheme’:
Henry, not on his own albeit, had in mind a big picture of Economics, the Macro Economic Picture as in Globalisation, and how such could work. He was focused on the great advantage to be had, should the other economies fall into step in following the dictate of their being no alternative, as expression of their respect his gravitas – and their shock and awe concerning Lehman Brothers as ‘bomb’ dropped in Financial warfare, and fear over their own such institutions and financial systems following suite as threat imminent, danger clear and present. That all the money squeezed from the American Economy and taxpayer, and including a good deal of assistance from the Chinese by way of Trade Deficit, and ways other as yet to be revealed, could be put to use in taking over these Economies under auspices of the IMF, by way of effective control of their Banking and Financial Institutions in the strings attached to ‘rescue package’…
This was what was in Henry’s mind as purview of remit, as grand scheme indeed.
There’s that little Wile E Coyote wink and nod …
There is only one greater pleasure than making money from using money, and that is making money from using other people’s money, so it goes.
All that is required is faith – and the confidence will come.
Uncouth parallel concerning Warfare exists; to wit: ‘grab ‘em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow’
As Wile E Coyote could say of such Macro Economic plan as scheme:
‘Brilliance, sheer, unadulterated Brilliance!’
The plan was going great, right up until..
Well, it kind of reminds one of the attempt at one of the biggest frauds in history; the individual who altered his pay check to read 164 million dollars and 29 cents instead of 164 dollars and 29 cents. The scheme was going great – up until the cheque was presented to the bank, until the coup de grace as it were of ‘one man, one great fraudulent act’ was to be realised.
Critical part of the plan: ‘mis-underestimated’.
Didn’t even get the twenty nine cents to put in the pocket of his new orange suit were there to be one, let alone the sixty four dollars outstanding, reality as ‘uncreated’ by ‘actor in history’ told.
You see, most schemes require others to ‘go along’ with such, notably in the case of example above those in charge of the bank concerned at which cheque presented. There is also the ambition of the scheme to be included in the calculation of ‘mis –underestimation’.
With our cheque fraudster, the bank would not have had such liquidity or resources to make such an over the counter payment, and even had they such, query may have been made the transaction in light of it’s ambition and numbers involved.
Now if he’d made it six thousand … but we digress again.
In the Paulson scheme, coup de grace to be delivered at the G7 meeting, such ‘mis-underestimation’ was absent almost in entirety.
Eulogy by little man such as I, not to be in vain, indeed.
But reality as contained within a small word such as ‘almost’ such as can cause gnash of teeth, and much wailing amongst history’s actors and concerning ‘new reality’ being ‘created’.
As to the faith and confidence component…
The rock Henry and those of his ilk’s particular scheme faltered upon was of German and UK manufacture.Instead of following the lead of Henry as representing ‘there is no alternative’, and keeping Global Channels open as it were for the takeover by ‘private finance’ in rushing towards the IMF with outstretched hands so as they could buy up all the toxic debt, following example of World’s biggest Economy, and in face of such danger of total collapse trumpeted and in shock and awe ‘going along with the plan’ as it were, what did they do instead?
Only: chose to shut down the ‘Global Channel’ to free flow of private finance through State intervention, form of taking ownership of Institution rather than merely debt of institution!
Of course, when they did so, poor Henry was faced himself with no alternative – he had to make rapid and humiliating volte- face, let alone ‘backpeddle with furious vigour’, and start pretending to listen to the screams of protest from others who had been shouting from time the initial bailout plan was launched that it was more sensible for the State to take equity in the ‘private’ banks. Such as had no conception of the ‘big picture’, so it goes. (But to have no say in the running of course, or as concerns bonuses paid, unlike those who had just failed to play ‘follow my leader’, where heads rolled, and bonuses prohibited, result of stake taken form of equity, and recognition that failure isn’t something to be rewarded.)
Now you may be tempted to feel sorry for Henry, that his brilliance not be appreciated; that his scheme came unstuck.
But what Henry has done through his understanding of Global Finance and in the ‘mis-underestimating’ thereof concerning the absence of such level of understanding being present in others, most notably the Europeans, and indeed concerning the ‘game’ of Global Financial Domination, is to stick a massive spoke in the wheels of Globalisation, at least as concerns the American Agenda for same, and to highlight the requirement that certain States have not been ‘shrunk’, after the fashion of Grover Norquist and ‘bath and strangling’, sufficiently enough to be unable to shut down Global Channels, and for the free flow of so called ‘private finance’ as masquerade for a small coterie of fascistic inclination and megalomaniacal predisposition, to prevail.
Henry’s grandiose scheme is indeed an example worthy of Wile E Coyote’s self praise concerning sheer unadulterated brilliance – it is just a pity that the European Financial System was as ‘Road Runner’ this instance.
A ‘pity’ that is, if you see all things positive in Globalisation.
My jury is out concerning same, but one thing for sure, there is a determination not to ‘mis-underestimate’ – or to allow murky machinations to obscure the ‘light’ of such as Henry ‘Hank’ Paulson.
That he be called an idiot no more such sense Financial and as per his expertise, he be given the recognition he deserves in widest of contexts possible, and no longer be ‘mis-underestimated’; and that this small article be part of his ‘defense’ against mis- representation of ‘truth’ – should ever he wish to call upon it.
For his status in Financial History deserves no less.
‘Meep! Meep!’ – as the Europeans might say; way of: ‘hear, hear’.
– Do you think Mr Paulson will ever let me call him ‘Hank’ now, given such considered appreciation of his talents and ability?
Chronology of ‘mis-underestimation’ resultant in Volte- Face astounding:
Sept 15: Lehman Bros file for Chapter 11, largest bankruptcy in US history.
Sept 23: Henry Paulson, Sept 23 , Senate Banking Committee “Some said we should just stick capital in the banks, take preferred stock in the banks. That’s what you do when you have failure,”
Oct 3: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 enacted.
Oct 3-10: Across Europe, every major market sees at least 20% wiped off value, FTSE slips below 4000 for first time in 5 years.
Oct 10: G7 Meeting. Europeans decide to take stock in Banks.
Oct 10: Henry Paulson, ” Oct 10, Press Conference “We can use the taxpayer’s money more effectively and efficiently, get more for the taxpayer’s dollar, if we develop a standardized program to buy equity in financial institutions”
So it goes, Henry, so it goes.
And indeed ‘there’ you went; more is the pity than the scorn.