Friday, February 08, 2008

Accounting Magic

#357 Accounting Magic

Jake's playing solitaire at Manny's Breakfast & Lunch on Fordham Road and Manny tells Rosa to get Jake to buy something more than the lousy cup of coffee he's been nursing and taking up a booth for four at the height of the lunch hour.

"Manny says you gotta order sumpin' Jake or he throw you outta here."

"Okay, Rosa, get me a fresh cuppa coffee and a prune Danish and let me think."

"All outta prune, chico, how about cheese or raspberry?"

Jake settles back to his game with the untouched cheese Danish and the second cup of coffee, which normally is on the house at Manny's except not when you're sitting on prime real estate and ordering nothing else and it's the busiest time of the day, besides the 5:30 to 8 AM rush.

Jake is waiting to buttonhole a presidential candidate when he (or she) comes in to campaign. Of course, no presidential candidate has ever come in here to campaign, at least not since Henry Wallace in 1948. Jake couldn't vote in '48 and the place wasn't called "Manny's" then, but close enough. Jake's an optimist, and this is the 60th anniversary of that visit, so the fates could conspire to have one of those dodo candidates waltz in here to mark the occasion.

"Hey Jake," Manny shouts from behind a dishrag behind the counter, "if the guy shows up, whatterya gonna ask him?"

"I"m gonna ask him howcome I couldn't get some of those big loans before the well dried up? I'm gonna ask him how to do business off the books, like Citi and Merrill Lynch, and all those other guys."

Jake reads the Wall Street Journal every day, and the business page of the Post. So he's wise to the accounting tricks that let the big banks and their accountants get away with financial murder for years."

"Hey," says Manny, "what do you care about that crap? You got a kid in Iraq, you got a grandson who's getting taught that God made the Dinosaurs and man at the same time and they all lived together. You got an wife thinking abortion is murder, you got a sure thing in the 9th at Tampa Bay. You got more to worry about than some guys with big ideas and wooden pencils."

"Nah. The pencil guys and the bankers who love them got us into this mess and I wanna know what these presidential turkeys are going to do to get us out."

Poor Jake. He thinks one of these candidates is going to clamp down on rogue bankers and rogue traders and regulators who don't regulators who don't regulate and Congressmen who keep gutting anyone and anything that makes any of this stuff happen. So he's starting his own hedge fund: He's going to buy bank stocks, figuring they'll eventually go back up because the diminishing field of likely candidates to walk through Manny's door is unlikely to put the help where it's needed -- even if they know what to do.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them. ®
©2008 WJR

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, but I can't figure out if you're touching symptoms or causes or if it's all a plate of spaghetti tied in knots! Bottom line analysis for me: we Americans have been relying solely on Adam Smith's philosophy to institutionalize greed (in the name of efficiency) for so long that we've lost our ability to even envision a nobler way of being.