The Epicurean Dealmaker: Who harrowed whom?

by: Compound F

Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 09:46:27 AM EST


In a post entitled, "The Harrowing," The Epicurean Dealmaker (TED) makes quite a spectacle of himself, not at all unusual for investment bankers, but somewhat unusual from him in its straightforward straits, forward! bullshit, wherein he's lamenting that investment bankers will "suffer the greatest harm" in their ongoing self-made financial collapse:

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Compound F :: The Epicurean Dealmaker: Who harrowed whom?
Now is the winter of investment bankers' discontent. The long foreshadowed harrowing of my industry, the great winnowing of its inhabitants, is underway. The huge, tottering edifice of proprietary trading, structured products, and bespoke derivatives, which suckled at the twin teats of Greenspan's largesse and investors' desperation for yield in the age of negative real rates, will suffer the greatest harm. But the rest of us-innocent or not of the worst offenses of our industry-will suffer the fallout, too. Pay will be slashed, jobs will be cut-never to return-and egos will be racked upon the callous indifference of executives and shareholders more concerned with their own personal trials and tribulations than the suffering of their bought-and-paid-for minions.

Our enemies will rejoice. Spiteful, envious souls will gnaw greedily on the bitter bones of schadenfreude in cramped and narrow defiles, sucking out the meager marrow to satisfy their self-righteous, operatic anger. Let them. Those humans among us who remain, who survive-and rest assured, Dear Friends, some of us will survive-will remember.

O yes, Dearly Beloved, we will remember. We will remember our friends and enemies. We shall never forget.

Enjoy the show.

Egos racked upon callous indifference?  Minions bought and paid for?  Say it's not so, bro!

Look, pal, believe it or not, I know people who are trans-global executive CEOs and whatnot, people who explicitly rejected the business of financial parasitism, people who make things, people I trust.  One guy I know, I axed him, bro, "That's pretty high-end technical shit you guys are into, do you spend your whole time doing powerpoints on the technical advantages of your products?"  His response, more or less was, "Nah, we tried that.  It [being technically honest and explicit] doesn't work.  Buy them dinners and drinks."  And that's' the whole show.  
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TED cleverly included a painting entitled Negredo of a semi-burnt-looking, semi-cultivated field to accompany the post, suggesting the agricultural meaning of harrowing, but in this artist's case, the blackened landscaped looks more like a post-war wasteland, and "represents centuries of conflict and devastation," suggesting the second meaning of harrowing (honestly, to me the blackness looks more like monks having breakfast and coffee at the edge of the field before going to work, and I provisionally challenge any such interpretations).

But while we're engaged in TED's thinking, let us continue: The title "Negredo" apparently refers to magical thinking of alchemy, the burning, putrefaction, or reduction of elements to produce gold.  So, perhaps the artist juxtaposed the bleak landscape with the alchemical title to suggest that anyone believing that centuries of mass slaughter cultivated anything worthwhile was engaged in a magical, alchemical type of thinking.

Likewise, and whatever the painting "means," TED's text clearly intends the second meaning of "harrow," as in "plunder, pillaging, scorched-earth crucifixion, etc.," when referring to the arrival of mass job lay-offs and bonus massacres on Wall Street, thus the allusion to alchemical thinking, I'd guess, refers presumably to the alchemical thinking of populist outrage as exemplified by his "enemies," such as Matt Taibbi, and perhaps also magical thinking by shareholders and Big Swinging Wall Street Dicks. At least, TED explicitly names (links to) his truest enemies (Matt Taibbis of the world).  TED's tone is a stew of affliction, distress, martyrdom, defensiveness, anger, condescension, dread, determination, and will-to-live with the cherry of retribution, on top.  So, he and I are similar in that respect.

I have enjoyed reading some of TED's work in the past, as he seemed to be a knowledgeable insider, at least a well-paid minion ("innocent or not of the worst offences"), if not a BSWSD himself, a bit more level-headed and self-conscious and literate than many, and above all cognizant of Wall Street's excesses; a relatively decent guide in the Underworld of Finance; but I find his racked whining about this much needed, long overdue come-uppance, the pay cuts, and jobs and opportunities lost, his "taking it badly," is not only lacking in poise and compassion, to say the least, but missing the bigger picture that he explicitly acknowledges.  Not everyone is going to survive this disaster.

In the greatest, most reckless financial looting spree by abject psychopaths in the history of the world, an ongoing crime without punishment that is plunging the entire planet into debt-deflation, massive unemployment, violent revolutions, and which may possibly end in a mass die-off, who plundered whom?  Who harrowed whom?  We're all taking it in the shorts, TED.

While I do think there is some blame to go all around, as no one complains too much when credit is expanding, who designed, implemented, innovated, and de-regulated, de-criminalized, and defrauded the system?  Who robo-signed the liars loans?  Made the $1.5 quadrillion in derivatives (notional!!! Now half that amount)?  Took home gajillion dollar bonuses?  Who snorted coke off the Icelandic hookers' asses?  Who got the bailouts, and who is getting austerity in return?  Who's pushing this impossible "crack" model of infinite growth?  

It's your system, TED.  You (and yours) made it, you rode it harder than you should have, and you broke it, just like the rest of us are riding too hard elsewhere, like, all over the planet.  TED is still in phase denial, while thinking he has moved on to anger!

When TED's ego-balloon inflates angrily in the direction of Matt Taibbi's pin prick, because Matt Taibbi and others have deigned to accurately describe in laymen's terms "the vampire squid on the face of humanity relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money," the spectacle becomes downright pathetic.  What an infantile, gurgling mess.  Don't bother washing off the pacifier this time.  This guy is just looking for someone, anyone to blame, in this case, the messenger.  His "enemies" are the people who told the truth.  

TED's outburst is just another version of schedule-induced aggression typical of animals.  It's like watching a pigeon go berserk on a dummy pigeon when you thin the schedule of reward, as if the dummy were actually competing for the food hopper.  It's like watching a rat flip its wig when you take away its precious expected sucrose, scrambling around, pilo-erected, teeth-chattering, paw-fanning, wet-dog shakes.  It's monkey biting when the juice runs out.  It's chimp tug-of-war over the absolutely last clump of bananas provisioned by Jane Goodall, because all it did was make the chimps fight in the first place.

We've seen this kind of unreasoned lashing out from the bankers' over-stimulated, hypertrophied incentive systems many times before when the financial grab and growl was coming to some end or other.  Even though TED is clearly more literate and articulate, my favorite similarly themed sentiment is still that bitter and petulant "We're smarter and more vicious than dinosaurs!" e-mail from a CDO trader deranged by criticism of Wall Street.

It's a negative contrast effect, when expectancies are high, but rewards are low, and entire suite of responses to grave disappointment is a long list.  There's going to be a lot more of that going around.  I'm sure there's more than a touch of embarrassment and status degradation, as well.  TED seems to understand that we're all undergoing a status degradation ceremony being dictated by the real Big Swingers.  

TED doesn't seem to understand the "dummy" pigeon is merely a pomegranate -eyed observer, as he promises retribution by memorializing his hatred for Taibbi, even Taibbi only wrote about the fleecing, the gutting, the ransacking, the raping, and stripping of wealth after the fact.  His research was more sifting through the wreckage, his explanations more post hoc.  TED seems to want to blame Edward Gibbon for the fall of the Roman empire.

Only a week ago Nicole Foss, aka "Stoneleigh" predicted that:

The game of 'shoot the messenger' is going to be very popular over the next few years, as politicians and bankers seek to cover their own litany of failures and criminality.

And sure enough, here comes TED, dead on time, blaming his "enemies."  I wonder who his "friends" are he'll be remembering, too, and will they remember him?

Stoneleigh has repeatedly counseled over the past few years that blame-casting, in general, is a waste of precious time and much-needed social fabric in the dystopian near future of debt-deflation.  I see her point, but what about stopping the ongoing criminality?  What about the law?   Ian Welsh, on the other hand, says that if you are going to riot and burn things in response to the lawlessness and misdirected austerity measures being foisted on humanity by the grab-n-growl supra-national banking elites and corrupt government officials, at least pick the right targets.  

"Yo, Ian, my man."

I see value in both of their concerns.  As the cross-nailed TED said, "Enjoy the show."

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Very nice! (9.33 / 3)
It's FP'd, I don't feel its appropriate to add a rec button if the author didn't want one, and no jar.  So tipped and rec'd in spirit.

not sure what that' means, (9.00 / 2)
all the buttons and squiggles, but thanks, and rec'd in return, rec'd in spirit!  I do thank you for this place.

[ Parent ]
I'm just... (7.00 / 1)
...one of the chipmunks.  peef is the Alvin :}  

There is a rec button when I open just this essay, which I pressed (and felt silly about my comment).  

The schedule induced aggression bit was especially brilliant. It slightly offset the bone deep loniliness inspired by the google valentine's doodle.


[ Parent ]
CF... (8.50 / 2)
grateful to have you here.

you are an original. your off-the-rails style is intriguing and, like jess' writing, can be diamond carat brilliant and cutting. can't pretend that i always know what you mean, yet i understand, sense it at some deeper level.

like learning a foreign language. now i know expressions in dutch that i can't literally explain, but i do know what they mean.

simplify... writing in the rAw


[ Parent ]
Poor TED. One tries to feel his pain. (8.50 / 2)
He speaks of schadenfreude almost as if he recognizes what it is like to actually feel it; he doesn't work at the Chicago Exchange by any chance does he? I immediately thought of all of those signs they had in their windows insulting the OWS crowd there.

Maybe it was easier to be an ostensibly objective observer when it wasn't his ass on the line?

Brilliantly written, right down to the pomegranate eyed dummy pigeon.


thank you. I stole that one from wallace stevens, (19.00 / 1)
and azrin & hutchinson.

[ Parent ]
alchemy. (19.00 / 1)
it exists, as i realized reading this. making gold from base metals... except one doesn't need the metals, just baseless financial products.

the kicker is this:

... if you are going to riot and burn things in response to the lawlessness and misdirected austerity measures being foisted on humanity by the grab-n-growl supra-national banking elites and corrupt government officials, at least pick the right targets.  

Stoneleigh is right about wasting time blaming and fuming and flailing. Take Ian Smith's picking the right targets idea and see how to live our lives moving away from them. that's all we need do. move away from them.

play our game, not theirs. on our board. not theirs.

i've become incredibly intrigued by the small house movement afoot here and in the USA... building 400sq ft homes (just small enough not to be taxable as homes) and beginning to learn to live off the grid of the vampire elite (h/t jess).

there are good strategies out there... the Ralph Reed model, but for good, of coalescing communities...

again, the question is this: who's got the words to unlock this potential in people?

simplify... writing in the rAw


Ian "Welsh" (3.00 / 1)
he lives here.  A damned fine human, it seems.

[ Parent ]
stickler! (0.00 / 0)
where the hell did i get smith from?

simplify... writing in the rAw

[ Parent ]
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