Former Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince
: Don't stop the music!
In a more honest moment, before everything exploded, Prince said this: "When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing."
What Prince was telling us back in July of 2007 was that he knew the disaster was coming. A lot of people knew. But as long as there was cheap and easy money to be made, they intended to make it. And as the head of a "too big to fail" bank, Prince knew that when the music did stop someone else would pay the piper.
"Gee," he says now, "sorry we weren't psychic or something." But in mid-2007 he knew the song was almost over. That's why he conjured that horror-movie image: bankers as a line of re-animated figures, like rotting corpses jerking involuntarily in a ghastly pavanne.
But Prince and his fellow bankers weren't just the dancers. They were the band, too. And the music was the sound of their own insatiable greed.