Sunday, April 15, 2007

Screwtape for the Defense

La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas. — Charles Baudelaire, Le Spleen de Paris

I have been spending a very relaxing and enjoyable afternoon just linking around the blogosphere, while Mother Nature attempts once again to clean the Augean Stables know as New York City by drowning us with torrential downpours. I should be finalizing my income taxes, but I cannot complete my Schedule A itemized deductions until my brother-in-law the accountant tells me whether I should classify those business bribes to the Somali government as medical expenses or charitable donations. (I suggested charity, but he assures me the fact I paid the bribes under threat of having my legs broken is strong support for the assertion that they were preventive health care.) Ah, the things I do to keep my business partners in Cristal champagne and Russian prostitutes ...

As I was trolling through the usual list of suspects and their rantings, I happened upon a post about the widening income disparity in this country by reluctant free-market apologist Free exchange which took a potshot at Yours Truly and my fellow capital markets parasites investment bankers:

Meanwhile, a handful of professionals [are] sitting atop the rivers of capital flowing into the United States and skimming just a tiny bit for themselves: bankers, lawyers, consultants. To the extent that the superrich are pulling away from the rest of us (and some question whether this is really true), the most parsimonious explanation seems to be the massive increase in the efficiency, and size, of American capital markets.

I myself am prepared to argue that investment bankers and traders make more money than they deserve to, and let's not even start on the lawyers. But I cannot think of any way to reverse this trend without doing enormous violence to America's admirably efficient financial markets, and thence its economy.

Naturally, I could not let this vile outrage stand, so I toddled off to econoblog Marginal Revolution, whence I found FE's scurrilous calumny, to raise a calm and measured voice in support of myself and my slandered brethren (and sisteren).

What I found there shocked me. Here, in the presence of trained economists, authors, and market practitioners who apparently comment regularly on MR, I discovered vast and seething ignorance about my profession, as well as most of the rest of the financial services industry. Supposedly educated people threw around terms like "financial workers" with abandon, and treated them as uniformly rich, without realizing that said workers encompass a broad range of chiselers, including such luminaries as Steve Cohen, Yours Truly, and Lypsinka the Cristal-swilling Ukranian call girl. Surely these PhDs in economics realize that the only thing the three of us have in common is a corporate account with Louie's Black Car Service and investment condos in Boca Raton?

Anyway, I rolled up the french cuffs of my $300 custom shirt—you know, the knockabout one I wear when not pitching clients or stuffing twenties into lap dancers' G-strings for the Somali Minister of Transport—and set about setting the record straight. You will be happy to learn, Dear Readers, that I seem to have redirected the focus of attention and opprobrium away from investment bankers and onto those people best able to handle the pressure; namely, hedge fund managers. I even had help in this task from a couple of hedgies who not only seemed to know something about their industry but also demonstrated impeccable manners.1 (They must be ringers.) My only regret is that I had to use the Big Boy Voice in my comments, but what else would you have me do when the other commenters included such people as James Surowiecki and Tyler Cowen? After all, I'm not writing this blog for my health: I want a book deal.

So, at least for the nonce, it appears that our supersecret noncompetitive pricing cartel is safe. Feel free to pad your fee estimates at will.

There is no need to thank me for this public service to the investment banking community. However, if you simply feel you must, send me an e-mail and I will forward the location of a drop box where you can deposit a case or two of Cristal. In the meantime, just say "hi" to Lypsinka for me when you see her next.

1 At least until I unwittingly pissed one off. Touchy guys, these hedgies.

© 2007 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.