Last night I saw Kevin O'Leary, the CBC's new guru of greed. He may one day be to finance, what Don Cherry is to hockey. He is on a show called the "Lang and O'Leary Exchange". As it says in his bio on CBC, "O'Leary is opinionated, ruthless, he hungers for big deals and loves to take control. Yet he made his millions helping children learn how to read." Isn't that sweet? He also calls himself an "Eco-preneur", because his company "Englobe" saves the environment. Well if he's an ecopreneur, I'm a skeptopreneur.*
Kevin was speaking about the proposed US regulations that will prevent banks from creating another financial crisis, and he proclaimed that Obama's regulations are going to destroy the only thing that is actually making money any more. According to Kevin our only way to wealth is by using ever more complicated investment "strategies" (I call them PWDs, or Pacts with the Devil). Kevin also says about Obama "Somebody has to stop him!!!". Kevin wants to see the American banking CEO's left alone, because "They are greedy people, and greed is good!!!" and "They are my kind of people."
Apparently, Kevin is no longer the kind of people who make their millions helping little children learn to read.
Does this seem right? You take a pile of money, and double it just by swapping things around and playing with the figures. Forget about lending money to businesses and homeowners when you have this kind of return on investment available.
Personally I think the banking CEO's have now completely lost their minds. I heard one of them, in front of a senate inquiry tell this story to explain the financial crisis. He said "My daughter called me from school, she was worried because she heard there was a financial crisis. She said 'Daddy, everybody says there's a financial crisis. What's a financial crisis?' and I told her 'A financial crisis is something that happens every five to seven years'".
I have no idea why a banking CEO found it necessary to tell this childish story to a senate inquiry, or actually why the CEO himself would be worth tens of millions a year, when he is incapable of running a bank that does not collapse every few years, and thinks financial crashes as normal. He doesn't even seem to be interested in why they happen or how to stop them. Apparently he makes money no matter what. Then the inquiry had to listen to a CEO who explained how they were cutting secretary's salaries to make the bank run better. I don't want them to cut secretaries' salaries, I want them to cut the CEO's salaries. And cut the million dollar bonuses.
So apparently we don't make money with hard work, with thrift or saving any more. The way to riches is with accounting tricks, Ponzi schemes, golden parachutes, bailouts and a call upon the power of "Greed". Is that really the way to prosperity? Even if we don't think so now, put Kevin O'Leary on TV for a while, and some Canadians are going to believe him.
* About "Environmental" companies like O'Leary's Englobe, and why this raises red flags for me. About ten years ago I invested in a company called "Phillips Environmental", which was in the same business as Englobe, getting rid of waste, toxic stuff etc., with an emphasis on re-use of chemicals. It did sound promising, and they did a lot of business, because there is so much demand for the service. A nice clean way to get rid of every kind of hazardous toxic waste, with no liability for the customer. Unfortunately, in this business, the customers rarely ask questions once the waste is gone. If the customers don't care, then who does? The owners of the waste removal company are the only ones who care whether they live up to their promises. This is an unusual ethical challenge. Phillips succumbed to the temptation, and started dumping their toxic waste illegally, and got caught. I luckily had gotten out early, because I know somebody in the environmental movement. When I told her of my "green" investment, she said "I don't think so". She had been asking questions about Phillips Environmental, and they were blocking her from finding out what they were up to. Now I don't think I would ever trust an environmental company led by someone who says "greed is good", and "greedy people are my kind of people". I would be more likely to start an investigation.