The CEOs of Detroit carmakers; high-level staff at banks; everyone at AIG; Bernie Madoff and Sir Allen Stanford; mortgage brokers; and anyone receiving a bonus. Insurance companies, of course, have been exclusively staffed by rotters since insurance was invented.
Not considered even remotely rotten is anyone in government anywhere, not even the half-dozen Obama nominees who admitted to cheating on their taxes or Alan Greenspan, who single-handedly bankrupted the world's most powerful nation; all regulators, especially those at the SEC; auditors; rating agencies; people who borrowed money they knew full well they couldn't pay back; and people who lent money to people they knew full well couldn't pay it back. And that's pretty much all you need to know about the Great Recession That Never Was.
Having lived through several recessions that actually were, I'm marginally nearer to the position of diminutive French President and weirdo Nicolas Sarkozy than that of President Obama on this one.
It's quite unsettling to find myself not disagreeing with Monsieur Sarkozy on something. He is the very definition of a rotter, most of the time.
But really. The economy started pulling itself out of recession long before President Obama's first dollar reached anyone who needed it. That's how it works. What goes up comes down and then it starts back up again.
So great an overreaction was the Obama bailout/stimulus package that even U.S. insurance companies that were doing fine, thank you very much, declared themselves to be banks and started applying for federal funds. Talk about your unfair competition, Mr. Berkley.
I know, I know. You read a story in The New York Times about how bad things are in California, and how you met a guy last week who lost his job at Radio Shack, and how your overtime pay is off, and all that.
I know. Hell, my earnings are down by half in the last six months. But you won't hear me whining about it. That's how it works. Good times, bad times. If the other half of my earnings evaporate, I still won't complain.
There is no such thing as human rights. There is only keeping your head down, doing the right thing as often as you can and keeping your fingers crossed.
Oh that Crombie, you say, he's psychotic, why should we listen to him? One reason to listen to me is that, having done the right thing as often as I could, I am being caned by the Federal Reserve's decision to have all those of us who aren't rotters bail out all those of us who are.
Zero interest rates and endless trillion-dollar bailouts are not the right way to do anything, other than to encourage hyperinflation, coming soon to a theatre of operations near you. If you thought the 1980-1982 recession was tough, with interest rates above 20 percent, just wait. No wonder President Obama was so chummy when he met that nitwit Hugo Chavez: neither of them lives on this planet.
My message here is mostly positive. The recession is largely done. It didn't require a death panel to bring it to its knees. The damage arising from this thoroughly natural downturn of events is going to be nothing like as great as the damage done by the printing of trillions of dollars. In short, I'm sort of OK; you're sort of OK.
ROGER CROMBIE is a Bermuda-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®.
October 1, 2009
Copyright 2009© LRP Publications