Maybe all this misery is just payback
Tuesday, Sep. 16, 2008 at 12:26pm
God forgive me for the thoughts I'm having this morning.
I'm just wondering how they feel today, all the analysts and brokers from the financial institutions who are now being punished for the profligacy, stupidity, greed and wishful thinking of their masters. How they feel as they dust off their resumes and try to put the pieces back together in a world flooded with needy drifters just like them.
Do they feel like all my friends in years past who were downsized as a direct result of the kind of advice the Street gave to a variety of senior managers facing the issue of forced, quarter-to-quarter growth?
Do they feel like my pals at our former cable division, which was divested, in an act of completely moronic short-sightedness, when people like them decided that businesses who throw off cash flow but lower earnings per share were not worth keeping?
Do they feel sort of like the folks subsequently laid off from the corporation when, without that cash flow, it could no longer make the payroll it had once been able to support?
Do they feel like the employees of all the little firms that were reorganized, consolidated, de-consolidated or re-consolidated, given the whims and abstruse calculations of the geniuses who analyzed these things for the firms that are now sinking?
Do they feel like my buddies, Brewster and Armstrong and Molina and Frankovitch and all the others, who had to take early retirement when their business units were merged with other business units that were then spun off to juice the stock for a couple days, just to impress these guys?
Do they feel like the homeowners who are looking for short term rentals now, after the banks that are melting down could no longer carry their freight?
When I think of the just plain dumb stuff that Wall Street and its assorted salesmen, analysts, enabling bankers and callow spin-meisters have visited upon working companies over the years, it makes me want to choke. The arrogance. The willingness to see hundreds, thousands, lose their jobs as a result of their pronouncements and manipulations. Masters of Business all, they have been taught to see corporations not as places that employ people and provide a product or service, but as numbers on a balance sheet, a balance sheet that serves only one group: Investors.
Well, now the investors are taking it on the chin. A bunch of companies are feeling it too. And of course all those poor Street people are now reaping the payback from what their entire economic world-view has wrought.
They'll be back, of course. God forgive me if until then I succumb to occasional grim smile at the current proceedings.