Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What a crock, the idea that bankers are 'apologizing for actions that led to crisis'... but not for the reasons that one might think.

The bankers didn't think they were doing anything wrong at the time, they didn't think they were doing anything particularly risky. That they had in fact done so was only discovered in hindsight when everything blew up around them. Put another way, they were right to pursue the lines of business they did right up to the point where they were wrong to do so.

And I don't place much stock in there being some number of people, both in and outside these firms, who were predicting that banks were in for a fall. No matter what the business venture is, there are ALWAYS going to be some people who see doom and gloom on the horizon, who predict disaster will result from following (or, in some cases, from not following) a particular strategy... and being a dissenting view doesn't mean being right. And if financial firms had done something different, there would have been some number of people who would predict disaster from that course of action.

(and it isn't just related to business, there are naysayers in every aspect of life. Obama won the election, but I bet there were people in his campaign who were arguing the campaign was being run poorly and that Obama was going to lose if he didn't change direction. I made a game-winning basket today, yet there was at least one teammate who felt I should have passed (to him) rather than taken the shot myself. I can go out to dinner with some friends, at least one of which will probably argue that we should have gone somewhere else).

Apologizing implies not only a recognition of having made a mistake but a desire to not make the same mistake in the future. But what are bankers going to do differently in the future that is any different from what they did in the past? Are they going to not pursue what they think to be profitable lines of business because someone somewhere is arguing otherwise? Me thinks not.