Friday, March 13, 2009

Is This O.J. or Madoff? (It's O.J.)

Market Recap

The three day rally in stocks continued with a strong move up in the financials in the face of the downgrade of GE from AAA, and the debate on how to revise the mark to market valuing of assets rolls on in Washington.

Must See T.V.?

I woke up this morning and thought that I was back to the future as there was television coverage of a car moving at normal speeds obviously heading somewhere important. Was it the president or a foreign dignitary? No, it was Bernie Madoff, leaving his house going to court to plead and probably never be seen on the outside again.

Real Life

I suppose there are people out there fascinated by this car trip downtown, but it is just a sideshow to much bigger issues: The money and lives of real people, the performance of the SEC in its oversight in the past and how it it will perform in the future.

It was an apology in the courtroom that has been heard in courtrooms around the country and around the world for hundreds of years. In any speech given by a convicted criminal, the only words that need be added to most each and every one to make it the truth is "I got caught". This would usually come after the gratuitous apology for the pain brought to the victim or the victims family. I am very sorry (I got caught). Or, as in the case of Bernie Madoff, "I am deeply sorry and ashamed," (I got caught).

If the markets hadn't plunged and the economy gone into a tailspin and the Ponzi scheme had gone on and on, would he be sorry then? Was he sorry he started the whole thing 25 years ago? Human nature says that the words that come out of your mouth can somehow make your actions okay. You see that simply by observing children. That by saying some words you mitigate the pain that you have created and heal the wounds.

Bernie Madoff will be in jail the rest of his life which at the age of 70 is probably not that many years. The pain and disruption that he has created in lives around the world is incalculable and will not simply go away. Lives have been altered forever, and by pleading guilty to all charges he is obviously trying to take the fall for all of the others that had to be involved. Justice says that these people have to pay as well. As the saying goes, there is no free lunch.

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