The Fall of Rome

I could enjoy watching flights of hubris if they did not have the nasty habit of landing on top of pedestrians when they return to earth.

I was reading this morning an article on the Bear Stearns debacle. The pundits continue to debate the source of the subprime mess. “Did Bear Stearn’s downfall cause it?,” they ask. “No, it was the other way around,” others contend.

In all the flurry, what caught my eye was a statement attributed to Bear Stearn’s fund manager Ralph Cioffi. Ralph was the manager of one of Bear Stearn’s subprime portfolios. He reportedly earned tens of millions of dollars annually to shepard these monies. When he belatedly realized his funds had failed, he emailed a colleague and stated that he had “effectively washed a 30-year career down the drain.”

A remarkable statement. A man who has just squandered 1.6 billion of other people’s money and his first thought is to his career and, by extension, his pocketbook?

I would guess that if the pundits paused long enough to meditate on Ralph’s statement, they would find in it the answer to their questions. For I would also guess that Ralph is not alone.

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