The decline and fall of financial capitalism

The decline and fall of financial capitalism
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First Published: Fri, Oct 17 2008. 01 08 AM IST

Updated: Fri, Oct 17 2008. 01 08 AM IST
Dear Reader:
It was a peculiar feeling getting into the US just as Lehman went bankrupt and AIG got nationalized. Should I use ill-conceived adjectives such as “hubristic” to describe the end of the party that the oracular Greenspan assured us would never stop? The trouble with Greenspan was that he never followed Milton Friedman who would have told him that the best option is to stick to a simple formula for growth of money, not to tinker around with interest rates with the arrogant assumption that one can fine-tune the world.
Be that as it may. The sense of deja-vu as our contemporary imperial state reels is very much in my mind. One can only hope that the outcomes of the future are better than what befell Rome. The heroic Bernanke is trying. One must wish him well. In my “depressed” state, contemplating the prospect of a great “depression”, I decided that a poetic response was the best one. So here is a poem. I hope you like it.
“2008: The Decline and Fall of Financial Capitalism”
As derivatives implode
As esoterics turn morbid
What do I do
in moments
when I am not taking delight
at the prospects of
genteel poverty
maudlin cringing
of pimpled bankers
now turning into
dying gladiators
of a new Rome
in molten decay.
My grandfather first read
Gibbon
in 1908.
In 1958
He said to me:
“Read Gibbon for his prose
But don’t get depressed...”
In 2008
I now read Gibbon
to live with the ungilded
depression
of the age.
Stately prose may be
the remnant failing therapy
for bankerly malignancy
eating into
all of us
repressed readers
depressed lovers
of Gibbon
Jaithirth Rao, a former banker and technology entrepreneur, divides his time between Mumbai, Lonavla and Bangalore. Send your views on this column at conservativecorner@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Oct 17 2008. 01 08 AM IST