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Matthew Anderson

Matthew Anderson

Posted: June 30, 2010 05:24 PM

Coyotes and Bankers

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Prior to 1960, you would be pushed to find Coyotes (Canis Latrans) that roamed east of the Mississippi. Wolves, one of the few predators of Coyotes, had done a relatively effective job of clearing that section of America of these wily beasts. Yet Coyotes have been known to mate with Wolves as well. Interestingly, Wolves will sometimes consent to mate with their adversaries but humans will wantonly destroy other humans for reasons far removed from the need for sustenance. Today, the "urban" Coyote is found in every state of the union. Today, the urban Coyote is faring better than it ever did in the wild.

The American banking industry had suffered a similar fate as Coyotes. The predatory behavior of bankers had been held at bay since the Depression of 1929 due in great part to the Glass-Steagall Act. But much like Coyotes without effective "management," the late 1990's saw an erosion of protections against the excesses of rampant raw Capitalism. What began as the "bang" response of a society ravaged by rapacious Capitalist behavior, simmered to that "whimper" that over time morphed to today's perceived modern business "birthright." Today, bankers heartlessly assail the public from which they draw their life's blood for the unrestrained behavior that banking institutions patently encouraged in the past.

Thus the mortgaged borrower has been accosted most recently. Attacked for not exercising prudence in borrowing from banks and lenders who were set up to fleece that same borrower of his/her total net worth. Since 1971, there has been an all out assault on personal earnings and savings. And enforcement of the laws surrounding public protection from the ravenous beast of profit for profit's sake has all but vanished. It first disappeared during the Reagan Administration, continuing later with Bush/Clinton/Bush. There can be no doubt that Republicans reviled Bill Clinton, not because of ideological differences, but indeed because he appropriated and placed into practice ideas of fiscal restraint stealing rabid right-wing ideological thunder.

Coyotes are savvy and accomplished predators. They are calculating and attack targets that are sure kills most of the time. Coyotes will befriend another dog and play with it while leading it to an ambush. They can hunt alone but are best in groups adding effectiveness through the strength of numbers. They are Socialist/Communists. Deemed cunning by humans such behavior however translated to the human condition is often appreciated as cowardly. Coyotes have larger or smaller dens depending on the urban quality of their environment. They eat almost anything and will defend viciously their young.

Bankers too, attack weak targets. They use the power of their profits to prey upon that segment of the public that is not positioned to effectively articulate its own interests -- the poor and by default children and the ignorant. Default Swaps, Derivatives and all manner of uniquely termed Ponzi mechanisms comprise the banker's tool chests and skill sets. But unlike Coyotes, bankers have a lobby capability dangling from their tool belts. This is akin to giving a five hundred pound Coyote a 44 Magnum and a helicopter.

Coyotes however differ in one significant way. Coyotes do not prey on one another. Yes, they will jockey for territory, but they show no signs of knowingly and with malice aforethought devastating large portions of Coyote land and then hoarding the equivalent of millions of metric tons of carrion for their "future" investment.

Coyotes are most active at dusk and dawn and will loudly share and broadcast their kill. Not so for bankers, here they slightly differ. Bankers deny almost everything that holds them responsible for anything. They keep their most nefarious activities secret and camouflage themselves in tired business attire so that they cannot be discerned in an urban crowd. Coyotes and bankers also share that ethics courses are not big on either group's agenda. There is a myth shared by successful business mavens and impoverished Republicans alike. They believe that merely because one has been placed in a position to take advantage of economic forms of preference, that such a condition is tantamount to having "earned" that right and position and the associated capital thereby acquired. "Preferential treatment," denounced by right-wing dogma for African-Americans and the others culturally "displaced" from the economic participation matrix, is in fact a given and matter of course for bankers and Wall Street manipulators.

Bankers differ from their canine counterparts at the level of responsibility however. Coyotes display a true commitment to one another when acting as a group. The banking community to the public however, displays no such responsibility. Some might offer that banks are in no way committed thus to the public. But then, that is the problem -- for banking should be a "service" provider and not a revenue producing "cash cow."

Coyotes are fully adult within two years and must cooperate to successfully survive. Bankers however can isolate themselves on college campuses (those who have ever even attended college) buoyed by friends sporting eighteen packs of beer, assured that there will come a time when with one telephone call, they will be able to buy their favorite brewery.

This should not appear as such a surprising lack of ethos given the current business model in America. There has long been debate that Business Schools are nothing more than glorified "trade" training institutions. The long standing debate as to the lack of a consummate paradigm of Business Schools and the loose assortment of course offerings that differ greatly from institution to institution, is still unresolved though that gap may be slowly narrowing.

And the "trade" quality of the secreted passing along of critical information versus a more meritocratic dissemination of information in these business arrangements does not help to quell concerns. Indeed, many "brokers" grandfather their ways to high "earnings" without anything more than passing a Series 7 or Series 9 examination. Two weeks of focus should do the trick given the person with adequate testing skills and a willingness to put aside immediate gratification for a fortnight.

A nation's legacy actually resides in the hands of individuals, many of whom today don't know the difference between a Manet and a Matinee. In related fashion, British Petroleum hasn't told us yet that the catastrophe off the Gulf may actually represent the beginning of the end of mankind and other life as we know it! We currently have convincing evidence that the oil now flowing in the Gulf is of the "abiotic" variety. It well may keep refilling and flowing indefinitely, despoiling all the oceans over time.

We would do well to review the behavior of our Coyote brethren. Indeed, recently in the backcountry near my home, I saw a Coyote wearing a backpack sporting a bumper sticker that said, "Coexist." That is when I knew for certain that the Coyote had never gone to Business School.