Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Them thats got shall get"

Yes, Virginia, it is possible to profit from economic collapse. It is even possible to profit big time. However, it would appear from a report by the Institute for Policy Studies that the best way to profit from economic crisis is to be in on both the cause of that crisis and subsequent efforts to cure it. This is the conclusion we are obliged to draw after reading Steve Eder's Reuters dispatch this morning:

As shares of bailed-out banks bottomed out earlier this year, stock options were awarded to their top executives, setting them up for millions of dollars in profit as prices rebounded, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The top five executives at 10 financial institutions that took some of the biggest taxpayer bailouts have seen a combined increase in the value of their stock options of nearly $90 million, the report by the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies said.

"Not only are these executives not hurting very much from the crisis, but they might get big windfalls because of the surge in the value of some of their shares," said Sarah Anderson, lead author of the report, "America's Bailout Barons," the 16th in an annual series on executive excess.

For those who did not recognize it immediately, the title of today's post (think of it as the text for the day's sermon) is the first line of "God Bless The Child," which Arthur Herzog, Jr. wrote in collaboration with Billie Holiday (who, in turn, sang it so well and so memorably). It seems appropriate to provide the first to stanzas in their entirety:

Them thats got shall get
Them thats not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child thats got his own
Thats got his own

Yes, the strong gets more
While the weak ones fade
Empty pockets dont ever make the grade
Mama may have, papa may have
But God bless the child thats got his own
Thats got his own

Those foolish enough to seek a logic behind this state of affairs would probably do well to remember the closing stanzas of the other great Herzog-Holiday collaboration, "Don't Explain." The title says it all, but the words still provide excellent elaboration. Here they are:

Cry to hear folks chatter
And I know you cheat
Right or wrong, dont matter
When youre with me, sweet

Hush now, dont explain
Youre my joy and pain
My lifes yours love
Dont explain

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