Wednesday, May 16, 2012

JP Morgan and Working Moms

As a working mom in India, I avidly read stories of the great fall of  great financial institutions and figures all around the world.  Why? Well, the intricacies of rise and fall of men is always interesting to read simply because, it shows me that human nature never really changes. We are a hungry greedy roughneck species. No amount of education and globalization can really mask our caveman instincts. The Hugo Boss and Armani suits can’t really stop our greedy hands from trying to invest money that is not ours, into assets that are hugely suspect ,and then when all falls down, to go running to the big mama of the business of the world, ‘The Government’ to save us – capitalism be damned!!!

So how do these stories affect my daily life in any way- well it is because everything that I buy is an investment and some of these investments are dubious too. Like when I buy branded shoes for office wear. I am hoping the shoe will last a while and be able to bear the wear and tear of office working. But two months down the line, the buckle falls off and I am back at the mall looking for   another pair to replace it.  But I actually should be outraged right? I spent a good part of my hard-earned money on it and it barely lasted and its not like I wore it every day. But its almost like I am relieved that the damn thing fell off because it gives me an excuse to buy another shoe. I mean back in my childhood, we bought Bata shoes and they never ever broke. One had to literally throw them away before we were given new ones.

But now, life is all about being able to buy and buy more and see and hear about other people buying and then do some more buying. So, can we really blame our financial wizards for wanting to wake up every day  and go to work with the sole agenda of  being able to play with their shareholders/investor’s money ? Whats to stop them? And more  importantly why would they want stop? They want to live in bigger houses, drive sleeker cars, date prettier women or men, and spread the bonhomie of being a suit at Ivy League schools. And most of them succeed. JP Morgan may have laid a big fat egg in this quarter but does it mean that Jamie Dimon is going to stop doing what he does? Of course not. I mean he has the audacity to tell the government not to regulate, spend money on lobbying for the same and then turn around and cause $2 billion to disappear …. And then prepare for a carefully orchestrated apology on prime time TV. I mean the implications of this whole drama just takes my breath away. And is he really going to pay for these sins? Most likely not. In fact the shareholders are not even demanding his head on a platter over this fiasco! Why? Because  they don’t understand how the market works and they rather have a known Dimon than an unknown Dimon handle the finances. I mean they are probably thinking  how much worse can it get? Six months down the line he will be forgotten and so will his actions and it will be business as usual . I mean close to home, what have we ever learnt from the Satyam crisis?

So , like it or not people are going to try and steal our money , fool us into investing into stuff that we have no idea about and basically rip us off on a daily basis. So , STOP BEING NAÏVE. The media can go ballistic over the why and hows of this financial tragedy but honestly, by now we should not be surprised if so-called money spinnning experts  fall spectacularly on their faces and take the world down with them in flames!!

What we new gen moms with independent money strings should do is,  well for starters stop thinking that men know more about numbers than we do and more importantly teach our children how do manage their own money from day 1. Give them money to go buy milk or junk food and ask them to do the actual transaction themselves. We also need to get the schools to teach children how not to just minus and plus but how to buy and sell with real money. The problem is that we tend to deprive our mites of any actual money in the formative years and then flood them with the same in the post teen years and expect them to know the value. I don’t think that works.

And what should we as parents do to guard against bad investments and unscrupulous financial experts- nag them routinely , check your bank account regularly for transaction fees and READ THE SMALL PRINT ON ALL FINANCIAL documents. Then one day may be in the near future we will be able to breed a  generation of human beings who want to give you super cool financial services rather than try and deprive you of your life savings because they know you are smarter than them !!!

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