Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The financial crisis and the Nuremberg Excuse

There is no shortage of finger-pointing as to the causes of the current financial crisis. I was somewhat stunned to read the following anecdote by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in a recent speech:

One of the saddest days of my life was when my grandson -- and he's a particularly brilliant grandson -- went to college. He was good at mathematics. And after he had been at college for a year or two I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up. He said, "I want to be a financial engineer." My heart sank. Why was he going to waste his life on this profession?

A year or so ago, my daughter had seen something in the paper, some disparaging remarks I had made about financial engineering. She sent it to my grandson, who normally didn't communicate with me very much. He sent me an email, "Grandpa, don't blame it on us! We were just following the orders we were getting from our bosses." The only thing I could do was send him back an email, "I will not accept the Nuremberg excuse."

What else is there to say?

-- Jack Krupansky

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