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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Great and Good are now small and ugly

The Times has compiled a list of the ten people it holds most responsible for the New Depression. Remarkably for lists of ten people the list contains eleven names, but we won’t hold that against them. A fair list and hard to disagree with most of the names, although perhaps Fred Goodwin’s I would always hesitate to ascribe too much prominence to RBS. Fred “the shred” Goodwin’s stupidity in buying ABN was matched by equally appalling fecklessness at HBOS, Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock. It is hard to understand why anybody would think that the administration of BCCI was good preparation for running a successful bank. As it was Goodwin took RBS to the verge of insolvency, where he would have been at home.

  1. Dick Fuld

  2. Hank Paulson

  3. Alan Greenspan

  4. John Tiner/Hector Sants

  5. Fred “the shred” Goodwin

  6. Gordon Brown

  7. George Bush

  8. Kathleen Corbet

  9. "Hank" Greenberg

  10. Angelo Mozilo

But the name I would put at the top of the list, without a doubt, and not something I would blame him for, is Bill Gates. Without Mr Gates and the IBM PC we wouldn’t have thousands of traders sitting in front of computerised trading desks designing, trading and hedging ever more exotic financial; projects. Computers would have been used for offline accounting, order entry and processing, but option pricing models would have stayed in theory books rather than on trading floors, skewness and kurtosis would have remained statistical concepts unfamiliar to financial analysts. For all the productivity of the personal computer, the New Depression may have wiped out many of the earlier economic gains.

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