The Financial Crisis A-Z

Over at, former WSJ OpEd page editor — but don’t hold that against him — Tunku Varadarajan writes a terribly amusing recap of the global monetary mayhem, titled: The Financial Crisis, From A-Z.

It may be just me, but it has a certain DanGrossian feel about it. To give you some flavor, A – E is below:

A is for America, the big swinging Richard whose dysfunction started it all. Think also of accountability (lack of); AIG (which has cost the U.S. $140 billion, and counting–who knew insurance could be so exciting!); assets ( what assets?), and Adam Smith, who’s slapping us about the face — with his invisible hand .

B boasts Ben Bernanke, known, lovingly, as “Helicopter Ben,” who’s clearly no Greenspan, um … Volcker, um … Morgan. And isn’t it swell that he’s an expert on the Great Depression and its causes? Bear Sterns was the big, fat canary in the coal-mine, whose death-trill was the first note of a symphony known as the bailout. B is also for balance sheet and belt-tightening.

C is for Credit Default Swaps, defined for me by a Wall Street watcher as: Risk whatever you want, and we insure it; risk too much, taxpayers insure it. And there are those CDOs (pronounced “seedy owes”) that were all the rage at Citigroup, one of many tarnished poster children of capitalism, a philosophy that’s taken a hefty write-down. ( Congress certainly doesn’t believe in it.) And then there’s Christopher Cox, whose finger was never going to be big enough for the dike, poor bloke.

D is Depression: Yes, we’re in one, and it’s going global. The trouble is we’ve already used “Great” in 1929. So we need a new superlative. D is also for debt; and for deregulation: Some say we had too little of it, others that we had too much. (This analytical Pushme-Pullyu bodes ill for a swift recovery.)

E is for excess (of, for example, executive pay and easy money).

America, the big swinging Richard. Can’t say I’ve ever read those words in precisely that order before . . .


The Financial Crisis, From A-Z
Tunku Varadarajan 11.10.08, 12:00 AM ET
Los Estados Unidos

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