The Greater Depression

You know how they used to train circus elephants? They’d tie a leg to a really really heavy weight. They’d do it a bunch of times and the elephant would learn that when his leg is tied down, he can’t move. Later, they could tie the elephant’s leg to a light weight folding chair, and the elephant wouldn’t even try to move.

It was a little like that when me and my buddies made our most recent mistake and collapsed the entire economy again. Everybody thought they were helpless. Although nobody completely understood what we were doing (including us!), everybody knew we were leveraging the hell out of something that was basically worthless. But we could not be resisted! Our success (meaning the success of me and my Wall Street friends) depends on the learned helplessness of others.

Well, the pragmatic candidate won the presidency and we already owned Congress, so it was easy going.

Nobody even talked about us if they could avoid it. Congress yammered on about terrorists and gun rights and immigrants and socialists and atheists. And we quietly went about our business. We even got a few extra perks from the new administration. But the truth is, we were already on a long leash and the “elephant”—the American public—was tied to a lawn chair so nobody was about to stop us.

Don’t ask me to explain the securities we were selling. You can asks the quants. They’ll tell you but you won’t understand what they’re saying.

In any case, we sold a lot of them. And we even sold futures and options on those nebulous securities. I didn’t know exactly when it would come tumbling down, but I’d already gotten mine. I retired as CEO and bought this giant ranch in the Australian outback. I like the quiet. My money is safe in the Canary Islands.

My successor is answering tough questions before Congress. He’ll get the usual slap on the wrist. A settlement of a few hundred million dollars will be agreed upon. After a few years, the fine will be quietly dropped. As usual.

The little folks are hurting, but how is that my problem? There will always be winners and losers. I’m good at playing the game. I earned what I’ve got.

There are riots and governments are falling and hungry people are storming into stores and offices and mansions and government buildings, taking stuff. But it’ll cool down eventually because it’s just a bunch of riots, not a movement. The elephant’s leg is still tightly secured to the chair. The elephant could easily crush the trainer like a bug. But he’s not going to. Pass me another bottle of Dom Perignon. It’s time to watch the sun set.