Monday, October 27, 2008

Greek Classics Revisited

For those of you who may think that the current financial crisis is unique, I would submit that this type of drama goes all the way back to ancient Greece.  In many ways, what we are seeing resembles the Iliad (minus the blood, gore and interventions by the gods, but otherwise pretty close).  Before you claim I’m totally off my rocker, consider the plot of the Iliad:

Agamemnon and Achilles quarrel over the distribution of riches; Achilles goes off to sulk in his tent; the war goes on without Achilles; Patroclus, Achilles friend, goes off to fight pretending to be Achilles; Hector slays Patroclus; Achilles slays Hector; Achilles and Priam, Hector’s father, weep together at Hector’s funeral.

Now consider the current financial crisis:

Congress and the Treasury Department quarrel over the distribution of the $700 billion rescue package; the House of Representatives goes off to sulk and refuses to pass a bill; the crisis goes on without Congress, with the equity markets declining by record amounts the day after Congress fails to pass the package; Paulson and Bernanke attempt to quell the financial markets without the backing of Congress; the markets collapse worldwide; Congress passes a rescue bill that limits some of the damage done and finally, Congress holds hearings and weeps over the failure of Allen Greenspan to warn of the dangers of the deregulation in the financial markets.

It almost makes you think that there may still be Greek gods out there staging all of this for their own amusement.

Just to top this analogy off, students of Greek literature will remember that the Iliad was followed by the Odyssey.  This means that we will still have to deal with the Sirens (think about all those pitches for alternative investments that could diversify your portfolio), witches that turn men into pigs (think about what’s happened to your 401(k) account lately) and navigating between Scylla and Charybdis (found any good place to put your money yet?).  Oh, and by the way, it took Odysseus ten years to get back home.

On that happy note I will bring this post to a close before I sound like a Greek chorus.

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