"Show me a stupid risk and I will take it"

British comedy duo Bird & Fortune explain how to get bankers to be boring and why Lehman's was allowed to fail


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Andrew Leonard
October 15, 2009 9:51PM (UTC)

No one, and I mean no one does sophisticated financial crisis satirical humor as well as the English comedy duo, Bird & Fortune. Felix Salmon alerts us that the Financial Times is hosting their latest effort, a wide-ranging ten-minute exploration of both the causes of the crisis and its aftermath.

My two favorite passages.

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Q: How is your bank doing?

A: My bank? Well we're doing quite well. We're quite profitable.

Q: But not with CDOs and derivatives and all that?

A: Oh certainly not. Heaven forbid. No, commodities, fixed interests, liquid debt securities, that sort of thing.

Q: All the boring things.

A: All the boring things. Yes, precisely.

Q: But there's been a lot of controversy hasn't there, about the bonuses you've started to pay your executives. Several million pounds!

A: Look here, you can't have it both ways. Everybody says banks have got to be boring. Well they've got to have an incentive to be boring. Otherwise they'll start taking stupid risks again.

Q: Otherwise you can't help yourself.

A: You can't help yourself as bankers. Show me a stupid risk and I will take it.

And finally, the smoking gun explaining why Lehman Brothers was allowed to collapse.

Q: Why was Lehman's allowed to go bust and not get bailed out?

A: Well, that's an interesting question. I think the fundamental structural problem was that nobody on Wall Street liked Dick Fuld.

Q: The CEO of Lehman's?

A: The CEO. Nobody liked him. And Dick did make a very fundamental strategic mistake in that, never in his entire career did he ever work for Goldman Sachs, which practically everyone else involved did. But that's a side issue.

But that's a side issue. Indeed. Enjoy.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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