Monday, September 15, 2008

Just awful news isn't it? We'll be cracking open the champagne round Impostume Heights tonight. That's right! We can still afford champagne!

The credit crunch: even more gratifying than a death in the Royal family.


Anonymous said...

The two wankers in the photos look like T4 versions of Davids Miliband (fringe twat) and Cameron (spiky twat).

Anonymous said...

It's poor form to take delight in people getting laid off.

What are the important differences between these poor bastards and yourself?

1) they, like you, have chosen gainful employment in a particular industry.

2) they, like you, get up and go to work everyday.

3) they, like you, collect a pay cheque every week. (or do you hand yours back or give it away to charity?! Thought not.)

4) they, like you, not only perform their 'core tasks' but also adhere to certain standards of dress, behaviour, etc. when in the workplace.

You're kidding yourself if don't accept that the only important difference between their daily bread making activity and yours is the size of the pay packet involved.

Your post might make sense if you were a new age traveler or something. But coming from a teacher it's just plain wrong.

chimp said...

"It's poor form to take delight in people getting laid off"

In this case i say bollocks to that...... these fuckers have been living in their sickeningly smug bubbles for too long....... i'm with you Carl!!

Anyway don't worry anonymous, they all have old boy network connections to secure another job before the week's out eh no?

Seb said...

Oi, Anon@4:42... by those standards, equal respect & deference should be paid to Kanye West, Conrad Black, a janitor, Pablo Escobar, and (Godwin alert!) Adolf Eichmann. Or is all forgiven as long as we dress smartly and dress up the work in the appropriate newspeak (core tasks, primary-action items, etc.)?

Besides, if Carl's not allowed to say it as teacher, then I'll say it as an officially unemployed househusband/muso-pundit/sound-dude: fuck these deflated Masters of the Universe who can no longer gorge themselves DJ'ing other people's assets. May they feel the harsh sting of reality in their rectums.

Anonymous said...


It's not obvious to me why you are so down on these people.


Is it because they're involved in some sort of wicked activity? If so what evidence do you have to support this view?

I could be wrong but surely the majority of those who lost their jobs were involved in providing more or less humdrum financial services and products etc.


Is it because you think these are wicked individuals?
Again, what evidence do you have for this?


Is it because those who lost their jobs have an unpleasant manner? I'm sure 'high finance' attracts more than its fair share of such people.

The world is full of unpleasant people. But surely it's wrong of us to wish evil upon them. Would you agree with me here?


Is this actually a simple case of jealousy and schadenfraude? These bankers are presumably well-off and successful...

For what it's worth I'm obviously not suggesting that anyone with a job deserves our respect. Just that it ill becomes us to gloat when people lose their livelihoods, even unpleasant people.

Great blog by the way, just took issue with this particular post...

owen hatherley said...

1) Anonymous, do you live in London? (or New York, or Madrid, or any of the other cities that have bought into the idea that speculation can power a whole economy?). Here, the enormous salaries and preposterous bonuses of the bankers in Canary Wharf and the square mile have managed to price (at least) thousands of people out of huge chunks of the city, and on every available bit of land - just on the street I live on this includes schools, post offices, industry, hospitals - flats catering almost solely to these people have been erected. This tends to make one just a tad resentful.

2) The City of London has also dictated policy to governments in Britain since 1979, which rankles for those of us who have disagreed with said policies.

3) 'Financial services' haven't been 'humdrum' for some time now. The finance industry in the last decade has gone agog for derivatives, i.e the policy selling on debts, passing on risk to other banks, other investors, other institutions - this sort of reckless gambling with other people's money (which is now, quite visibly, capsizing the world economy) was stupid, avoidable, and not to put too fine a point on it, venal.

4) These fuckers have had it all their own way for a long time now, and perhaps, in the months before their idiot speculation has us paying a fiver for a loaf of bread, fighting for the few jobs left, and facing the likely election of right-wing lunatics the world over, some of us would like to enjoy our little bit of schadenfreude.

Seb said...

Owen, you took the words out of my mouth. Cheers! But, being a bit of a blowhard, I'll respond anyway...

Anon, your insistent repetition of the word "wicked" smacks of moral puritanism. So, if we're getting all Old Testament here, I believe that big leather-bound book a great many people take such stock in says Greed is a one-way ticket to Hell. These people are simply reaping what they sow.

This is like listening to people who attended a three-decade orgy without rubbers complaining about getting VD.

Also, let's not confuse jealousy with schadenfreude; that's like confusing plain ol' being an asshole with irony. We needn't necessarily lust after penthouses and coke-dusted hundred-quid bills to revel in some small dispensation of karmic retribution.

My guess is you also didn't particularly approve of Carl's fine polemic against Mike Leigh & vacuous empathy. But of all the people on this planet who'd merit our compassion, a bunch of bankers who now have to put their Lexus on layaway are not among them.

Anonymous said...


With regard to points 1, 2 and 4. I don't live in London, I'm not an economist and I'm not hugely familiar with British history since 1979.

If as you suggest some of those fired today committed these 'bad acts' then I suppose it's morally justified to wish them ill.

However it's reasonable to at least some of those working in LB committed no bad acts at all, didn't influence your government's policy in a negative way or whatever.

It seems to me you're wishing these ones ill just because they're wealthy and successful and you mightn't like their attitude or whatever.

What I'm detecting here is good old fashioned nastiness masquerading behind a thin veneer of bien-pensant righteous indignation.

I think your point 3) is actually based on a misreading of my comment. If you look again you'll see that I didn't suggest financial services were humdrum or harmless, merely that many if not most of those laid off today seem to be (well-remunerated) foot soldiers involved in humdrum 'basic operations' rather than true high-level finance. I could, however, be wrong about this. It's just an impression garnered from the news stories.

Seb, my use of the word wicked is not in the least religiously freighted...God forbid!

I take your point about jealousy and schadenfreude
(or I would if I could spell it). Perhaps these emotions are close cousins rather than brother and sister?

I haven't read the Impostume post about empathy but will make it my business to do so. However, it's important to point out that not wishing someone ill and not revelling in their distress doesn't necessarily mean being empathetic toward them.

Thank you for your thoughtful responses.

I enjoyed the discussion.

Dominic said...

"Little Eichmanns".

chimp said...

"It seems to me you're wishing these ones ill just because they're wealthy and successful and you mightn't like their attitude or whatever.
What I'm detecting here is good old fashioned nastiness... "

Sorry Anonymous but you've lost this one....

i'm wealthy and successful, although not in monetary terms - WHAT! there are other ways to measure wealth and success?! - and i'm not a nasty person, but you really are missing the point here.... not liking someone's attitude doesn't automatically qualify one to openly scoff at their misfortune granted, but when that 'attitude' manifests in collective cuntiness, greed, and rampant gentrification for purposes of extending one's collective cuntish domain there really is little in the way of sympathy when it starts to go tits up.

Maybe you'll get it when, as Owen predicts, you're paying a fiver for yer wharburtons and wonder who to blame.......

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that I'm not the 'anonymous' who's fighting the corner for (happily unemployed but sadly not forever) City twats.

With his sunday school morality and spirited defence of finance pimps, I suspect 'anon' might be Gordon Brown. I can see why he'd wish to remain nameless in the current climate....

Anonymous said...

The status life of a hedgefunder:

Inside the head of a hedgefunder:

Ohhh arn't these hedge trimmers nice people?! Tek em 'ome ta meet ya mam n dad. Gloating isn't good tho. Remember the episode in Blackadder II?

Ned Lud

stn said...

Oh come on, not Ward Churchill! Heavens!

Dominic said...

I used to joke that if I got promoted to Software Architect, maybe then I could be a little Albert Speer.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the length of what follows. I should point out that, like everybody else here, I've never worked for Lehman so I have no special inside insight to offer. And I'm not one of the other anons who's posted earlier, although I concur with some of their points.

1. It may be that a very tiny number of the individuals who lost their jobs at Lehman actually did something wrong, by which I mean either something illegal or something considered by their peer group to be unethical. Weirdly, they actually don't care about what you think is ethical, any more than you feel bad if you do something they think you shouldn't.

Those people -- if there were any -- would have deserved to lose their jobs, and had the bank found out what they were up to they would have been sacked. Don't be under the illusion that financial institutions think it's amusing to have their employees do things that land them on the front page of the FT. They can only operate if they have the trust of their clients. They all have complex and expensive procedures in place to catch people like that out, although they aren't always good enough to prevent a disaster like Soc Gen.

2. Only a very tiny fraction of the employees of a place like Lehman are what you call "bankers", and anyway "bankers" are not what some of you appear to think they are. Bankers work on the financial processes involved with issuing stock or bonds, assisting with company mergers and so on.

I think what most people here are referring to are "proprietary traders", who try to make money by speculating with the bank's own money. Prop trading isn't usually the main business of an investment bank like Lehman.

The vast, vast majority of employees at Lehman would have been folk like accountants, administrative staff, HR, computer programmers, and infrastructure people -- the ones who make the phones work, open the parcels that might contain bombs, make sure the lights come on and the toilets flush and so on.

Most of these people will earn above average for their line of work (on which see the next point), but almost none of them will own penthouse flats in Canary Wharf or Porsches or yachts or whatever else your bizarre fat-controller fantasy has conjured up. They're not the "pimps" and "spivs" that the tabloids are currently presenting us with.

(While we're at it, most of the fraction of super-rich City workers -- and they do exist -- have little interest in the "redevelopment" of the Isle of Dogs that you're so agitated about. 8-figure-a-year hedge fund managers prefer nice old houses in Chelsea, Kensington and Mayfair.)

3. One of the reasons why people in finance get paid more than others is that the industry is cyclic, and so you can expect to make less money in the lean years and even have periods when we can't find work in our fields at all. Some will find new jobs, although the City isn't really hiring right now. Many will take a year out to study or travel a bit, and quite a few will try to change industries, at least until the next upswing. In general people in finance are pretty philosophical about the boom-bust nature of capitalist economies.

But still, it must come as a nasty shock to be shown the door and told you might not even get paid for the work you've done this month. Imagine how you'd feel just for a second. So there's genuine upset and, in some cases, serious short-term worry about how to pay the bills. Not a grand human tragedy but unpleasant all the same.

Incidentally, another reason people get paid above average is they're expected to work very hard. As a computer programmer in a bank, say, someone with 10 years' experience can expect to make about the same as a headteacher at a London comp, a bit more in a good year, which is great. They can expect to work 12 hour days, get called at 3 in the morning and have to go into the office, work weekends, cancel holiday at short notice and so on. If they don't like it they can always take a 50% pay cut to work in the public sector and go home at 5:30 every day, as many do when they've had a bellyful. If it was easy money, don't you think everyone would do it?

4. Most people in the City don't share your politics. At all. Many would disagree with everything you think. Not because they're idiots but because there are other viable views on these matters besides yours and nobody's worked out which is right yet. Probably, let's be honest, none of them is. It's awfully parochial to assume that everyone who disagrees with you does so simply because they're either venial or stupid.

You can argue substance with them if you like, and one should, but they honestly don't believe there's anything intrinsically evil about capitalism. Comparisons to concentration Nazi officers? Come off it. It's really, really ugly to assume your own ideology is the One True Path and to rejoice in any minor misfortune that befalls those who disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

"It's really, really ugly to assume your own ideology is the One True Path and to rejoice in any minor misfortune that befalls those who disagree with you."

presumably your own position as articulated here at some length is non-ideological, and makes no value distinctions/truth claims then?

NOT believing there is anything intrinsically evil about capitalism is not non ideological anymore than thinking there is, it seems to me. it's the typical liberal position: other poople have ideology, i have supervened them and live in the clear, unmediated light of reason.

Anonymous said...

Fair point, totally agree with the last para (and I'm not, despite appearances, an enthusiastic capitalist, certainly not a libertarian).

I'm inclined to think, anyway, that ideologies are a lot less homogeneous and over-arching than we're inclined to describe them; but il n'ya pas d'hors-texte and all that. But in any case shouldn't the very idea that all thinking is ideological, if we believe it, urge caution rather than arrogance? That would apply to the critique from the left just as much as to the laissez-faire ideologues who allowed this mess to happen.