Jan 22


by in Drawing & Writing

It was evening, and Ethos was starting to fill.

Behind us, an older, caucasian expat was on his cellphone.

“I mean that’s what they’re paying for, that’s what they wanna see, isn’t it? Just say something like, ‘That’s tiger shit,’ and let everyone take a picture.”

At this he went quiet, listening to the response. He was a long-term expat with an accent that could’ve been from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, or somewhere in England.

“It could be cow shit,” he explained. “it doesn’t matter.”

He listened for a while, then said, “So on the 13th I’m taking some white people up to [Lampun?]. So if you’re free you could come along.” I looked at him again. He was white.

A short while later the conversation ended, and he left. His table was filled up by five guys, all mid-40s, all hippie-ish and kind of weird, and the subject of international finance came up.

“Gold,” the only non-hippy said, “is just a byproduct of iron.”

He explained that x amount of gold is found every time a mining company goes for iron. [no idea of this is true.] “Like I said, gold is just – when you mine iron, you end up getting gold with it. It’s – you’re always gonna get some gold in the – I’m from Minnesota originally.”

“But how much gold is actually out there?” A Swiss guy asked.

The guy repeated the gold-iron relationship, and added, “Minnesota has some of the biggest open mines in the world.”

This hadn’t answered the question, and the Swiss guy said again, “But how much gold is out there, in people’s hands? I have heard that some of the gold is, like, hidden, to increase the value.”

The Minnesota guy repeated the information about gold and iron, not answering the question. No one cared anymore. He’d usurped the conversation, the whole table, and whether or not it was bullcrap was now irrelevant.

The group left. The table refilled again with two men and a woman, and somehow, as if the table had an economic theme to it, the group started talking international finance bullcrap again.

Minnesota guy walked back into the restaurant, stood listening for a minute, and walked up to the table. “Did I hear you talking about the Federal Reserve?”

“I don’t think so,” the guy said. “We were–”

“Because the thing about the Fed is…. so, the government gets bigger and bigger, and the taxpayers… so it’s, uh, eventually they’re gonna starve off all the private banks unless your’e one of the, unless you’re so huge, but then, like AIG, which is basically just a huge conglomerate with a government share. And what this means to you and I, and I’ll get to my point, but let’s say these three glasses [on the table] are the big banks, and these businesses are the small banks. And what’ll happen is these small banks will get established in some sort of market, or some sort of service, and they might merge, and they really – and as far as the entrepreneur is concerned, these small banks…. But this small bank grew from a 6.2 million dollar bank to a 12 BILLION dollar bank. So you have this idea, ‘I wanna buy this vegetarian restaurant, or I wanna buy this bank in Thailand,’ but you can’t really do that when it comes time, it ends up being like communism. You gotta have a relationship with the czar. But this is what – it’s a mathematical equation, it’s called the mark-to-market equation. It wasn’t the sub-prime crisis. It was the rating of those mortgages, it was all those banks saying, that’s not our asset. And the government was like, we want you to go and reappraise everything on your banks. And that’s OK when you’re talking about general commodities, but the main thing that’s interesting is the treasury, because for you and I – I mean, China’s looking at the long term, and – sorry if I’m like –”

“No, no, it was very interesting. Thank you.”

The guy didn’t leave, though, and the other, forced to fill the awkward emptiness, re-engaged him with a general financial comment. It was like my stupid trout situation. Once baited, the Minnesota guy did his thing. “Newt Gingrich, he has a list of 10 things he would change. And number 7 is –”

I hope this is frustrating to read, because it’s sure frustrating to listen to, especially when it happens again and again and again.


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One Response to “Ethos”

  1. From Esther:

    …and frustrating it was :)

    Posted on January 22, 2012 at 15:13 #