Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bankers as Celebrities

Listening to the bankers before congress yesterday was both impressive and instructive.  You realize these are very smart, well paid guy, doing a job.  Much smarter than say, the auto executives who came before.  Also much, much smarter than most of the Congress members they were be lectured from.  Maxine Waters vs. Jamie Dimond or Lloyd C. Blankfein...Come on.

It’s also a reminder that these bankers are, in a way, victims of our celebrity culture.  During the boom years we couldn't get enough of their jets, their parties their wives.  Steve Schwartzman and Henry Kravis were celebrated in glossy magazines. The pages of Vanity Fair and Portfolio were filled with business porn.  We built them up as Masters of the Universe.  Now that things have turned, we can’t wait to tear them down; just as we do with celebrities we build up.  The problem is, no one is hurt by the public turning on Brittany or Jessica, turning on our smartest, if often greedy, bankers with populist rhetoric trumping good judgment could hurt us all.