When Humans and Reptiles Collide

Corporate Psychopaths, the Financial Meltdown, and the Cult of the Supreme Manager

Staff Writer: Ken Cates


With the passing of the five-year anniversary of the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, I am still convinced that a bigger financial crash would plunge the world into an economic abyss with in my lifetime. Those who caused this mess are still running the economy, and the only prosecution was that of the mid-level Goldman trader ‘Fabulous Fab’ Tourre. A result that is neither fabulous nor fab for the public good.

What happened five years ago was a result of society falling for those who were worshipped by the mainstream and financial media as sages and messiahs. Men with reptilian, if not psychopathic characteristics that gambled our economy away and pushed the losses onto us, rewarding themselves for their failures through tax funded bonuses and golden parachutes.These were men who thought themselves infallible as they ruled over their coworkers as their capricious lord, who crushed the livelihoods of anyone who dared question their conduct.

On the success of Stalinism among intellectuals, Hannah Arendt argues that the key factor can be attributed to the annihilating tactic of replacing all debate about the merit of an argument, a position or a person, with an inquiry about motive rather than the merit of the argument itself. Through the crackdown on those who asked necessary questions, we have treated our saviours as freaks and worshipped freaks as our saviours. In part, what allowed the economy to crash was our unquestioning faith in bullies, crooks, and delusional idiots, who profited off our misery and despair.

The following stories are few of the many examples where those who displayed highly questionable characteristics have ruined their organizations through their ego and their self-absorbed delusions that they imposed. These were leaders who crushed any reasonable questioning of their conduct as they went on to prove themselves to be threats to their employers and beyond. Leaders who welcomingly embraced Stalin’s annihilating tactic like a tyrant of a third world banana republic.

Just Another Angry Guy

March 1998, Washington D.C. How Brooksley Born was treated by the best and the brightest in finance can be summarized under a single phone call. When Born’s deputy Michael Greenberger walked in at the end of the call, he remembers the blood draining from her face as she barely uttered, “that was Larry Summers. He was shouting at me.’’ Outraged at the slightest hint of financial regulation, Summers screamed that he had a dozen trade association reps in his office saying that her questions in itself were doing them enormous damage. “He conveyed in a bullying fashion, threatening her to stop”, Greenberger recalls.

As chair of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), it was Born’s job to regulate commodity futures and option markets in the United States.  Her time at the CFTC was when the US was facing, “the strongest U.S. economic performance in a generation,” says Summers, who was then Treasury deputy. For Born, developments in the financial sector were anything but assuring. Two years prior to her appointment, the Bankers Trust had run Procter & Gamble and Gibson Greeting Cards to the ground, selling them complex and falsely valued derivatives of which P&G was totally clueless about. 18 Ohio towns lost $14 million, and the City Colleges of Chicago lost almost $96 million in their dealings with derivatives.

When she circulated a concept release that merely suggested U.S. authorities start exploring how to regulate the vast global derivatives market, she was just doing her job. However, Newsweek’s Committee to Save the World (Chair of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, Summers, and then Treasury secretary Robert Rubin), would simply not stand this outsider’s insolence.

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