Michael Panzner on ‘doomsday-postponed’, and our jobless recovery
Michael Panzner’s book Financial Armageddon was published in March 2007. The S&P 500 was at 1430, and would run another 100 points before crashing in the Fall. Great timing in retrospect.
But at the time I doubt it was much fun selling publishers on a book about an impending disaster, with markets screaming higher. Panzner was ahead of the curve back then, warning of CDS and MBS when most of us were clueless. His level-headed analysis is definitely worth listening to today:
I got the chance to hang out with Mike last month at the Economist’s Buttonwood Gathering. I was sitting next to him during a swanky dinner at the NYSE, my $250 suit feeling a bit out of place among the sea of Armani.
When the moderator called on Mike during a Q&A featuring George Soros and Stephen Roach, he didn’t waste the opportunity. He asked if Wall Street has indeed captured Washington D.C., as Simon Johnson says.
Soros simply answered “yes”, while Roach dodged the question – adding somewhat defensively “we’re not blood-sucking squid”. I respect Roach, but it’s a shame he dodged there. I suppose his position at Morgan Stanely, a top investment bank with access to Fed funds could make answering that question “yes” a career liability.
And even though Roach didn’t get the reference exactly right when he rejected the idea of bankers as “blood sucking squid” (the correct quote is “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money“), it’s good to know that at least one Senior exec on Wall Street has read Taibbi’s killer Rolling Stone piece.
Is it a sign of Wall Street waking up to the populist backlash? Doubtful. Roach has always been an outsider, viewed by colleagues as hopelessly bearish (translation – he’s realistic and more resistant to herd-think than most).