We are quickly approaching a significant date, a date which had a profound impact on the global economy and our physchy. This August is the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Global Financial Crisis, yes, it started a half decade ago. What were you doing five years ago? I suspect you were reading the headlines of the day wondering what does it all mean to me? It was unfathomable to think back then that sub-prime mortgages, ARM teaser rates, and new terms to the general public like derivatives and swaps, could nearly bring down the global economy. And yet here we are five years later, dealing with a fragile economy because aftershocks are still being felt because of the GFC, Global Financial Crisis.
Plenty has been and will continue to be written about the Global Financial Crisis and its aftershocks, example being the state of the U.S. economy and the European crisis. However, little has been written about the lingering affects of the crisis will have on our collective physchy. I see examples of it everywhere. You don’t have to look any further than the deep distrust and vitriol people have towards banks, and bankers. Mention Wall Street, executive compensations packages, stock markets and the like and most people will speak of these in contemptuous terms. That to me will be one of the most significant fallouts of the Global Financial Crisis; the demonization of success.
It has become fashionable to disparage and criticize success. What was once admired and encouraged is today scorned. You’re successful? You make a large sum of money? Shame on you. It really has become open season for those who are successful. Politicians and journalists have been exploiting this sentiment for the last five years and will continue to do so until consumer confidence returns in force. To be clear this not an attempt to justify million dollar comp packages. But I will say this, if it doesn’t bother you that Shea Weber of the NHL’s Nashville Predators just signed a 14 year contract for $110 million, why are we bothered by what business leaders earn? I understand the argument that the wealth gap between middle class and the affluent is widening but its too easy to suggest that fairness would be severed by simply making the affluent pay more. But it’s becoming fashionable to suggest that because if you’re successful, wealthy, well, you must have done something wrong to earn that wealth. And if you ‘re legit, you should have to pay more for the sins of your business brethren.
In some aspects I understand the cynicism towards business leaders, and bankers in particular. Why wouldn’t there be? Where are the indictments for those who perpetrated the Global Financial Crisis? Prosecutors made Bernard Madoff pay, and deservedly so. But his was school yard compared to those who nearly brought down the global economy. This injustice fuels the mistrust and demonization of those who are successful. I hope this doesn’t result in future generations saying to their children, “dream big, be average”.
Until next time.