President Obama has invented a new board game for Wall Street money guys to play that promises to be a lot of fun. It's very much like the regular Monopoly game that kids play--only better--because this one uses real money, provided courtesy of the taxpayers. The best thing about Obama's game is nobody loses. Usually, the winner in Monopoly is the one who winds up with the most money. In the Obama version, the losers get any losses back from the government at the end of the game. The president has promised.You can see, he hasn't lost his touch for the gentle art of snark, with a touch of snarl...
The guy is a genius. He located these two whiz kids--Tim and Larry--who are smarter than God about financial matters. President Obama commanded the advisors to solve the financial mess, raise the zombie banks from the dead and start the good times rolling again. This game is what they came up with. It's a very complicated game and not everyone can understand it. But the Wall Street titans smell hope. For this Monopoly set has no "Go to Jail" card in the deck.
It starts just like the real Monopoly game. The president hands out tall stacks of cash to all the players--hedge funds, insurance companies, big-time investors, any well-heeled capitalist with a serious taste for acquiring greater wealth. The players then roll the dice and move their little titan icons around the Monopoly board. They can buy up properties wherever they land, sort of like landing on Boardwalk and Park Place. Only in this case the properties are the nearly worthless financial assets held by the country's leading banks, like the mortgage-backed securities now known as "toxic assets."
The banks are glad to be rid of their rotten stuff and will begin to feel better about lending again to commoners. The titans accumulate a stack of property cards and sell them off to other players at extraordinary profits. At least this is what Tim Geithner and Larry Summers told the president to expect and he believed them. Before you know it, everyone will start feeling better about themselves. The once worthless financial paper that no one would buy will begin glowing with rising value. Now wealthier titans and much relieved bankers will buy more cars and houses, hire more gardeners. More jobs, more hope, everything starts rolling toward national recovery. Everyone is a winner, even the losers.
Only adults are allowed to play this game. It is much too complicated for ordinary citizens so sophisticated financiers are needed to do such tricky deals. But Americans at large can have fun watching the action and rooting for various participants. The contest will be a welcome distraction from other anxieties. Who is going to accumulate the tallest stack? It's like Monopoly Olympics for the grand masters of the universe. Will Warren Buffett take a seat at the table? Bill Gross, the PIMCO bond king, is salivating at the prospect of double-digit returns and says Obama's game is "win-win-win." Can billionaire George Soros resist such an opportunity? Will legendary traders at Goldman Sachs square off against James A. Baker III's Carlyle Group with its oil-rich Arab backers? What a kick that these famous people will be playing with our money.
But, remember, this is not about a few shrewd players accumulating more wealth. It's about saving the country. Everybody will want to do their part. Obama has shown them the way.
Probably there are some naysayers in the public who won't get it. They will whine about the odd ways in which winners always seem to get another chance in US capitalism to win again. Some people will look around them and complain that things do not seem to be improving in their neighborhood. They will attack our president personally, try to undermine his authority.
President Obama can charm them out of their anger. He might say, "Hey, guys, lighten up. It's only a game."
Friday, March 27, 2009
Lest Anyone Think Bill Greider's Lost His Edge ...
Here's Greider's latest piece from The Nation, in which he caustically derides "thePrez"s" real money version of the Monopoly Game: