Thursday, February 05, 2009
So last week I found myself of an evening in a Vancouver hotel ballroom breaking bread amongst a swarm of financial types. The occasion was an annual dinner put on by an august association that bestows a TLA on those hopeful youngsters who've crunched numbers, sweated blood, and scribbled under time pressure to the requisite standard. I am not among the blessed ones, but I was invited to attend anyway. Not sure why, but there you go.
Now apparently every year over dessert and coffee a panel of financial experts what knows about how this money thang all works gives its predictions for the year ahead. But before that, last year's predictions are reviewed. The whole production is supposed to be wrapped in humour, presumably to demonstrate that, hey, bean counters can be wacky, off-kilter types. This year the humour was distinctly of the gallows variety. Hoots of laughter applauded the TLA in the audience who won a chunk of lucite for "Best Stock Pick:" XYZ Industries, down 43 percent year-on-year. Yes, I said down. Hoots of laughter.
Yet something sat not quite right about all of this. It was probably around coffee that it struck me; despite the frightful whipsawing of the markets, the credit crunch, and bleeding investment portfolios, all of us folks in that ballroom had jobs and were relatively alright, Jack, if a tad nervous. We dined on seared tuna (a bit peppery that crust, but still nice) and steak (obviously nuked prior to a finishing grill, but quite a tasty bit of flesh), quaffed red, red wine (only one glass for me as I'm driving, but the fellow over there seems to have passed out in his chair), and laughed at it all rather than shed crocodile tears. Elsewhere, a record 4.78 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and are struggling to make ends meet. Some are sinking deep into despair, and taking their loved ones with them. Home foreclosures are gutting communities. Canada, largely spared to date, is starting to feel the hot breeze of the firestorm to the south. People will be hurt here as well.
And that's what it's all about: real, live people. Not numbers, not graphs, but people.
As I left, I felt angry. And part of that anger was directed at myself; I ate at that table, I'm alright, Jack. So I asked myself: whatcha gonna do about it?
Well FiL? I'm waiting...
The Neurotics - This Fragile Life (buy here or e-here)
Public Image Limited - This Is Not A Love Song (buy here)
Wild Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire - Thatcher's Children (buy here or e-here)