Saturday, 14 March 2009

Welcome to the world of Bernard Madoff

After pleading guilty to the largest fraud in history earlier this week, Bernard Madoff now wants bail before his sentence is pronounced. He is almost certainly out of luck. US judges are not known for compassion. After all, justice delayed is justice denied.

His forlorn attempt at evading prison was eclipsed by the revelation that he and his wife have assets amounting to $823m and $826m (£589m to £591m). This handsome accumulation of wealth includes four homes, four boats, and a share in a private jet. Moreover, their lifestyle demanded a monthly budget $346,757.

Roughly speaking, that monthly budget compares to about 10 years of the per capita income here in the UK. How did we end up in a world like this, where one corrupt individual spends in one month, what another person earns during a third of their working life?


The Logistician said...

Those of us in western industrialized countries should be asking what is the difference between our social security systems and the Madoff Ponzi scheme. Both collect money from contributors today, promising returns in the future, which are financed by newer contributers.

OldSouth said...

Your question is relevant. Madoff's numbers and lifestyle are the result of blatant fraud. And there are many others,like Franklin Raines, probably will never see the inside of a jail cell or see a penny of his assets taken away for all the chaos he created on the way to wealth.

Now, on the other hand, there are business people, very well-known and otherwise, who have built wealth by actually creating wealth for those around them, first example being Warren Buffett, another being John Templeton.

There is a difference between wealth built honestly and ill-gotten gain. The former should ALWAYS be praised, and the latter NEVER respected. Neither Buffet or the late Templeton have ever been know for extravagent lifestyles--which may be a clue into their characters, and why their businesses succeeded.

Madoff was the worst, however. I saw an interview with The Donald (Trump), and HE never placed a penny with Madoff, in spite of repeated invitations. He smelled a rat.

We need to rethink who our heroes are. We need to reread our Horatio Alger, without the condescending cynical smirk.

We need to teach our children that wonderful Kipling poem 'The Gods of the Copybook Headings'.

We need to make certain they learn their lessons from our example, of how not to behave, and what not to do.

(And, kudos to the previous post on the US Social Security system, by the way.)

Anonymous said...

I remember how the 'privatised' TSB sat on a cash mountain until, strangely, this had disappeared though overpayment on takeovers (Hill Samuel etc.) and Lloyds Bank took over; how there was a 'spiral' at Lloyds of London which made easy multiple commissions for the dishonest few and wiped out many names, some of whom were wrinled actors who started to reappear on TV; how many savers received quite valuable Abbey National shares until Abbey lost £750m and had to yield to Santander; now Santander has lost £2billion on Madoff and supposedly well-run Santander shares have rather slipped. And we have had the scandals of mis-selling of endowment policies and crazy sub-prime mortgage lending.

Is there a moral in this? That bankers and financiers are not 'innovative' or quick-moving entrepreneurs. They are thieves and liars. There it is.

How many more honestly earned billions have to disappear through holey financial trousers to offshore hideaways before we get some rigorous regulation of the money-men and regular prison sentences for fraud.

Oh, and I forgot the Guinness affair... and the Flick affair... and... and...

B. in C.

Anonymous said...

How did we end up in a world like this, where one corrupt individual spends in one month, what another person earns during a third of their working life?

Speaking of the "world" and not only as observed by outraged frogs in a U.K well.
How does it compare or relate to
a world where most live and work for less than a Pound or so a day?

Anonymous said...

P.S. Abbey lost their initial £750m to Enron, a name that should not be missed from the rogues' gallery.

B. in C.

Anonymous said...

Gordie Brownoff is a far worse Ponzi schemer than Bernie. Gordie Brownoff took his scam global and blew out the o ring on the world economy's a-hole: 50 trillion US vapourised. Nice.

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