Monday, 21 February 2011

Does banking have to be so goddamn complicated?

That's what William Wright wants to know. He's all confused in his little head.

Well, I have been speaking to the poor sap [informal, chiefly N. Amer.]. This is what we spake unto each other [at the Financial News office]: 'Mikey, I'm all confused, man! My little head's gonna explode if you don't explain shit to me. (Calm down, Willy, my friend. You'll make yourself ill.) What am I going to do, Mike? I don't wanna lose my job. I got to know. I got to understand. (You're worried that banking is too complicated, ain't ya?) Yeah. (You're worried your colleagues will laugh at you if you can't get to grips with it.) Yeah, man. (Willy, it's your lucky day, boy. I know everything there is to know.) Have you been sent by God? (Better than that. Big Herb has asked me to have a word with you, and a vision.) Fuck! (Fuck indeed, Willy. Fuck indeed. This is going to be an education.) Lay it on me, baby! (Okay. See if you can dig this. The first thing you need to know is, everything is simple. You just need to turn your mind off, man. You think too much, Willy. You're concerned about different business models, different levels of disclosure on divisions, different accounting terms.) Yeah. (You even wet your pants over comparing a bank with itself from one year to the next.) I can't help it, Mike! (Listen. Turn your mind off. Come with me on a trip, Willy. I'm taking you to see the ghosts.) I can't - how? (Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Undo a button or two. Not your fucking trousers! Your shirt!) Sorry, Mike. (For Christ's sake!) Sorry. I'm nervous. (For fuck's sake. I - forget it. Now, you're in the desert of our love.) Our love? (It's just an expression. Can you feel the sand beneath your feet?) I can! This is incredible! (Look into the distance. What do you see?) Ghostly figures, Mike. (Ghosts of the dead financiers, Willy. That's what you see. And they're coming our way.) Oh God. (Don't be scared. I'm here with you.) Hold my hand. (No. Stay cool, man. Keep your eyes shut. They're here. Can you see them?) Yes. They're touching me. (Good.) I don't feel so scared now. (Okay. But be on your guard, Willy. They can get vicious.) They're all over me! (Okay, okay. That's good. You're doing great. Right, the ghosts are leaving. Open your eyes.) I want to stay. (Open your eyes, Willy.) Oh, Michael, that was just absolutely amazing! (Are you still confused?) No, not at all. (What do you think now of business models, disclosure, accounting -) It's all a load of crap, man. My eyes have been opened, even though they were closed. (Well done, Willy. You should be very proud of yourself.) Thank you for this, Mikey. It's something I'll always remember.'

I'm sure he will always remember it. Understanding is a simple thing. Dear reader, have you ever taken a page out of the Wall Street Journal or any financial newspaper, set fire to it, and put it in your mouth? That is true understanding. You do not have to read it. But you must burn or be touched. William Wright has been touched. He will never be the same again.