G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Friday, September 19, 2008

In 2018, Rogue Nation’s Fed won’t Face Shortage of Chairs in Boardrooms!

In his book “When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management.” (2002) ROGER LOWENSTEIN said:

“…September 23, 1998…On account of a crisis a LTCM, McDongh had summoned the heads of every major Wall street bank. For the first time, the chiefs of Bankers Trust, Bear Sterns, Chase Manhattan, Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and Salomon Smith Barney gathered under the oil portraits in the Fed’s tenth-floor boardrooms-not to bail out a Latin American nation but to consider a rescue of one of their own…

Unaccustomed to hosting such a large gathering, the Fed did not have enough leather-backed chairs to go around, so the chief executives had to squeeze into folding metal seats.”

My first thought: In year 2018, chairs won’t be a problem because most of 1998 invitees now have disappeared!

Recently (NYT September 7 2008) ROGER LOWENSTEIN said:

“…The Long-Term Capital fiasco momentarily shocked Wall Street out of its complacent trust in financial models, and was replete with lessons, for Washington as well as for Wall Street. But the lessons were ignored, and in this decade, the mistakes were repeated with far more harmful consequences. Instead of learning from the past, Wall Street has re-enacted it in larger form, in the mortgage debacle cum credit crisis…

Indeed, through the lens of today’s more widespread failure, the Long-Term Capital collapse looks like a small dress rehearsal…

In ’98, though credit markets froze and stocks plunged, they recovered quickly. Long-Term Capital was wholly a financial episode; it left no scar on Main Street. The current crisis has its roots in housing, a mainstay of the economy, and with the bubble’s bursting the damage has been enduring and severe…

If individual responsibility is to be fully excised from American capitalism, the free-market enthusiasts who founded Long-Term Capital deserve no little credit…

INVESTORS have no confidence in banks or in their disclosures. How much will each downward tick in housing prices hurt the bottom line? No one knows. Failing to inspire confidence, banks cannot raise (enough) capital; thus, they do not lend…

I heard on BBC TV on Sept 17 that AIG worked for sanctions against India because it would not open its insurance sector to the likes of AIG!

On Sept 18, FT’s John Gapper said:

“…But AIG takes the biscuit. Here was a huge multinational insurance group with a reputation for solid underwriting and risk management that decided to diversify from insuring risks it knew well – car crashes and fires – to covering derivatives it did not understand…

Well, $24bn of write-downs later – a mere 10 times its maximum estimate – the company has burned through its equity, spread financial chaos to all corners of the earth and humiliated the US Treasury. The job of insurance companies is to guard others against catastrophes, not cause them…”

I wonder if history will judge terrorists and these investment bankers very differently.

Therefore, I didn't find the picture below funny. Rogue nation's crisis is hitting common man and beggars of India.

* "Rogue Nation" phrase is borrowed from the title of Clyde Prestowitz's book 2003

Artist: R K Laxman, September 18, 2008 The Times of India