Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oop. Time, She’s Up

Just an old fossil
“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

When I launched this blog seven and three-quarters years ago, O Dearly Beloved, my first post incorporated the following mission statement:
I have started this blog to comment on what I consider to be a fascinating part of the global economy: the global market for M&A and its various inhabitants, participants, and miscreants. Hopefully I will be able to relate some interesting anecdotes, a few enlightening opinions, and a couple of amusing stories that will shed a little more light (or a little more laughter) on what remains for many a murky area best left to investment bankers, corporate lawyers, and other such terrifying bogeymen.
Five hundred and sixty-six published posts later, more or less, plus a lumber room of unpublished fragments, ruminations, and provocations, I think I am ready to declare victory and move on. This is not necessarily because even I believe that I have achieved victory, mind you. That is for you Lovely People and the sub-sub-librarians of internet history to judge. But one of the advantages of running a blogsite of which you are the sole, unimpeachable authority, author, and editor rolled into one is the ability to make such unilateral declarations without fear of pesky contradiction from the peanut gallery. (I have not made it a policy here to prevent comments for nothing, children. If you object I can direct you to a convenient pile of nearby sand which needs pounding.)

Of course those of you who have made an intermittent study, intentional or not, of my ramblings on this site will be aware that my output has both exceeded and failed to satisfy my stated mission of explaining the market for corporate mergers & acquisitions. The lion’s share of this mission creep (or evasion, if you will), I must put down to my lack of discipline: I have used this platform to hold forth on all sorts of topics and sundry, many of which fall far afield from the cloistered halls of buying, selling, and financing companies, which is my primary trade. I have addressed mildly cognate fields like private equity, Corporate America, and the history, structure, and pay of the investment banking industry; more tenuously related areas including hedge funds, capital markets, and financial regulation; and wildly off-topic digressions such as higher education, philosophy, and identity in the age of Facebook and the NSA. I have indulged my fancy for humor without regard for its funniness to anyone else, and I have waded into culture and art criticism without shame or regard for my lack of training or expertise therein. I have posted pictures and poems that appealed to me, for no other reason than I could.

In other words, I have written about what interests me, in addition to that much narrower and shallower range of topics to which I legitimately claim any expertise. The curated list of my more prominent posts runs to many pixels and reveals the breadth of my work. I remain unapologetic about this. This site is a personal blog, not a public service. Those of you who disagree with my choices are welcome to join the protestors from the first paragraph at the nearby mound of silica, etc., etc.

* * *

I was lucky to start blogging when I did. Financial markets had reached a peak of silliness which offered rich fodder to a financially literate cynic such as myself. Soon, the global financial crisis elbowed aside these more pedestrian concerns to offer a rich and exciting topic for me to both demonstrate my naturally firmer grasp on markets and the financial industry than the legions of panicky and underinformed journalists and pundits who were scrambling to understand and report it and also learn more about the crisis’s players, issues, and concerns than I had theretofore known myself. While I claim no particular merit for having done so, I take pride in contributing some measure of rational, grounded knowledge and facts to a society-wide conversation about the Panic which was badly in need of them. I even tried to contribute more serious thinking to the reform of financial regulation in this context, but sadly that seed fell on stony ground.

Subsequently, I think I have contributed some things of use to the broader understanding of investment banking and financial markets, including reality-based commentary on initial public offerings, illumination of the ways and byways of careers in my industry, and a little insight into the plight and prospect of women in high powered careers like mine. Hopefully these small contributions have added something of value to the public understanding and hence social weal. If so, I am glad. If not, well, you all got what you paid for.

But now I have reached a pass where I find it increasingly difficult to maintain any sort of regular posting on these pages. Most of what I have to say about things I know I have already said, often more than once. I have come to realize I will never convince those who believe in their bones that investment banking and financial markets are useless, evil, or a social liability rather than a boon. People who use the word “bankster” unreflectively and unironically are not now and never will be interested in what I have to say. People who have a more nuanced understanding, or who continue to form their opinions on the matter, have many more sources today than they used to to call upon, and a much broader and deeper understanding of these issues in the press. I hope I have contributed in some small way to this education. Unless sinks beneath the waves, people should always be able to find my blatherings on these topics gathering dust at this location for handy reference anyway.

I expect I will continue to maintain this site in some small way, perhaps adding a post here and there to the topic listing at the Table of Contents and maybe even doing a final and/or comprehensive post of Greatest Hits. But I do not anticipate blogging here regularly any more. I have reached the end of the interests and expanded mission which drove me to launch myself into cyberspace in the first place. Now I am most interested in topics where I am a student and a learner, not a master, and I want to spend the not inconsiderable time I have devoted in the past to explaining financial arcana and beating back the ignorance of the unfair and unjust here to reading and thinking about others’ expertise and ideas instead.

* * *

If I find I have something interesting to say, never fear, O Faithful and Long-Disappointed Readers, I will probably say it here. Those of you who know me via this opinion emporium probably have little doubt of that. I am the sort of person in fact whom it is almost impossible to shut up. It just is unlikely to be a regular affair, and this site is likely to sink into desuetude and decay as the years lengthen. Whether I decide to pop up in some other form, at some other place, I have yet to decide.

If I do, I’ll be sure to drop you a postcard. Cheerio.

Related reading:
Fragments (February 26, 2010)
Table of Contents (February 16, 2013 and passim)

© 2014 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.