Skip to main content

So, What About Europe?

Often we wonder how countries get into bad financial difficulties, and sometimes we need an allegory to explain it.  Hopefully the one below can explain how some of the European countries have gotten into their financial mess?

Helga is the proprietor of a bar.  She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar.  To solve this problem she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

Helga keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers' loans).

Word gets around about Helga's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Helga's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in town.

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands Helga gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer - the most consumed beverages.

Consequently, Helga's gross sales volumes and paper profits increase massively.  A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognises that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Helga's borrowing limit.  He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

He is rewarded with a six figure bonus.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS. These "securities"  are then bundled and traded on international securities markets.

Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as "AA Secured Bonds" are really debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

The traders all receive a six figure bonus.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Helga's bar. He so informs Helga. Helga then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons but, being unemployed alcoholics, they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Helga cannot fulfil her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Helga's 11 employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank's liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Helga's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the BOND securities.  They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds.   Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations; her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multibillion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from the government.

They all receive a six figure bonus.

The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who've never been in Helga's bar.

Now do you understand?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Myers-Briggs and Social Media

If you have been working for any amount of time, you have most likely have taken the Myer-Briggs personality indicators (introvert v. extrovert; sensing v. intuition; thinking v feeling; and perceiving v. judging).  Here is an infographic created my mbti that has been broken into five sections.  It is pretty informative and goes on to show what types of indicators prefer which types of social media.
Myers-Briggs Type

The about graphic describes the various characteristics of the Myers-Briggs personality types and how they would be inclined to use social media. There are 4 types that can combined to create 16 "personalities." To enlarge picture, just click on the image.
 Do You Use Facebook
This is an graphic on how your particular personality type would use Facebook. It seems like extraverts and intuitive individuals prefer using Facebook.
Social Media Use at Work
This graphic explores how different types use social media and the web at work and their predisposition to share i…

Puns a Plenty

This post is near and dear to my heart…puns! Below are some situations that we are really familiar with, but whose outcomes may make your grown! Please, please, please realize this is NOT for the faint of heart, but should bring you a chuckle no matter what day it is or where you are. ________________________________________ King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates , the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan. Croesus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it." "But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. "Don't you know who I am? I am the king!" Croesus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."
A mechanic once owned a dog named Mace. Mace had a bad habit of eating all the grass in the mechanic's lawn, so the m…

Lupercalia and St. Valentine's Day

OK, I just could not resist this: Romance, sex, orgies, wolves, and martyrdom all under one legend. Oh my, what a day we have!!! We might celebrate romance and sweethearts on this day, but boy, the Romans really knew how to party. While history is fun, it is also interesting to know how some things never change (like falling in love and celebrating it!). Happy St. Valentine’s and Lupercalia. May you celebrate it at your heart’s content with someone who has stolen or whom you have given your heart away!  Lupercalia is uniquely Roman. It harkens back to the days when Rome was nothing more than a few shepherds living on a hill known as Palantine and was surrounded by wilderness teeming with wolves. The name comes from lupus, or the latin form of wolf, that celebrates the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus (as they were suckled by a she-wolf). 
Another thought is that Lupercus, protector of flocks against wolves, is a likely candidate for the name. In any case, there is no question abou…