Monday, March 23, 2009

Bernard Madoff and a current bestseller

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” was written by the Swedish writer, Stieg Larsson, who died shortly after completing the book in 2004. It is a thriller with a powerful financial criminal and the crisis he brings to the financial markets. The resemblance to our current crisis, and Bernard Madoff’s role is eerie.  Near the book's close, Larsson speaks of the stock crash:
The Stockholm Stock exchange found itself in freefall and a handful of financial yuppies were threatening to throw themselves out of windows.
And the hero says:
“The idea that Sweden’s economy is headed for a crash is nonsense,” Bloomkvist said.
“We are experiencing the largest single drop in the history of the Swedish stock exchange—and you think that’s nonsense?”
“You have to distinguish between two things—the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day . . .. That’s the Swedish economy and it’s just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago. . . . The Swedish Stock Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions. It doesn’t have a thing to do with reality or with the Swedish economy . . .. It only means that a bunch of heavy speculators are now moving their shareholdings from Swedish companies . . . systematically and perhaps deliberately damaging the Swedish economy in order to satisfy profit interests. For at least twenty years, many financial reporters have refrained from scrutinizing [the greatest perpetrator of fraud]. On the contrary, they have actually helped to build up his prestige by publishing brainless, idolatrous portraits. If they had been doing their work properly, we would not find ourselves in this situation today.”