I am writing a novel. It is about the next Great Recession that will occur in this decade. The book's subtext will cite the next Great Real Estate Bubble as the cause.
If it sounds too familiar to be true, that is why it's fiction -- a novel. Even so, it will show how political bungling, greed, and lack of transparency are familiar ogres that are working in concert to throw the financial markets back into chaos. As a result, it will topple our most prized financial institutions and beloved industries. But I caution my readers to remember that it's only a novel.
More specifically, I'll take a hard look at President Barack Obama's tinkering with the economy, bashing high achievers and selectively blaming whomever fits his agenda best. But it is only a novel and his ends-justifies-the-means-criteria is not unique to the current occupant of the oval office. That is how most presidents govern and Obama is no exception.
I want my novel to be like Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Even though his book was fiction, it caused the faithful to question their resolve and flock to their churches for comfort. My book will also be fiction but the readers will have nowhere to flock to and no one to allay their anxieties. And like Brown, I will pepper my fiction with real facts and believable characters to navigate the readers to probable outcomes beyond their control.
My naysayers and Obama's stalwarts will say that Wall Street's recipients of multimillion-dollar incentives should be punished. They also believe it is justified for the federal government to run our corporations during financial crises. Moreover, they will applaud disincentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and innovation. And they will feel better protected by restricting the growth of our financial institutions than requiring real transparency and filling the gaps with sensible legislation.
Accordingly, they want draconian taxes on large, revenue-based bonuses and excessive fees levied on the biggest banks even though they followed the rules. It is easier for them to blame the wealthy, the prominent, the "fat cats," as Obama calls them, rather than the middle class folks who bought houses larger than they could afford. They would rather blame the credit-card companies than the "gotta have it now" generation that over-indulged and cannot repay their debts.
Sure, not all the big guys play by the rules and my story will incarcerate a few of them. Others will be at the rap and even more will legally game the system and do business in the gray area. In fact, one of the gamers is my main character. He was a big earner before the economy tanked and is carefully watching the new rules being promulgated by Congress and the Obama administration.
He is an Ivy League grad, very savvy and previously structured some of the infamous securities and credit default swaps that few practitioners or regulators fully understood. For him, every regulation has loopholes awaiting well-paid lawyers and accountants to find them.
The character has a huge ego, lots of expendable cash, and knows how to assemble a talented group of highly incentivized achievers to execute his strategic plan.
In case you are wondering how my story ends, I don't know. The events and my characters will decide. So I am watching them closely.
Jerry Chautin is a former entrepreneur, commercial mortgage banker and business lender. He is an award-winning journalist and a fiction writer.
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