“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, January 26, 2008

the elementary particles and general society

Those who have read one or two of Houellebecq’s novels will immediately see that Jérôme Kerviel sprang out of the brain of Michel Houellebecq. His problem is that he is fictional. It must have bothered him:

He failed in a bid for town council in his 20s; he never rose higher than a green belt, a midlevel rank, after years of judo training — because of his bad knees; and he attended an average college where he earned respectable but unremarkable grades.
“People who want to be golden boys or clever in the market don’t come here,” said Valérie Buthion, the director of the University of Lyon’s economic and financial engineering department, where Mr. Kerviel earned a master’s degree in market finance. “The showoffs don’t come.”

“. . . his hedonistic worldview and the forces that shaped his consciousness were common to an entire generation. Just as determining the apparatus for an experiment and choosing one or more observables made it possible to assign a specific behavior to an atomic system-now particle, now wave-so could Bruno be seen as an individual or, from another point of view, as passively caught up in the sweep of history. His motives, values, and desires did not distinguish him from his contemporaries in any way.”

“In the French media, former colleagues and even agents in a neighborhood real estate office near his apartment remembered him for his understated sartorial elegance and a boyish resemblance to Tom Cruise.”

“Moments after they climbed down from the Jeep, Bruno realized he had made a mistake. The estate sloped gently toward the south, scattered with shrubs and flowers. A waterfall tumbled into a clear green pool; nearby, a woman lay naked, sunning herself on a flat rock while another soaped herself before diving in. Closer to them, on a rug, a bearded man was meditating or sleeping; against his tanned skin, his long blond hair was striking--he looked a little like Kris Kristofferson. Bruno felt depressed.”

“Mr. Kerviel remained hidden from public view Friday. A handwritten note posted in his apartment building in the wealthy suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine urged swarms of journalists to leave residents alone because the former trader had taken shelter elsewhere.
“Kerviel,” the note read. “Is not known in the building.”

"There remains some humans of the old species, particularly in areas long dominated by religious doctrine. Their reproductive levels fall year by year, however, and at present their extinction seems inevitable. Contrary to the doomsayers, this extinction is taking place peaceably, despite occasional acts of violence, which also continue to decline."


et alia said...

Could his fictive nature be a consequence of objective acts rather than subjective pressures? Gaddis' JR wasn't exceptional either—once you discount that he was in sixth grade when he built his empire—but he wasn't driven by resentment of the übermenschen (is that spelled right?) around him; it was a natural extention of his fondness for games and trading. M. Kerviel, at least as he is described in the linked article, is so gray as to seem anhedonic.

Could it be instead that a bunch of golden boys from whatever Grande Ecole it is that turns out financial hotshots got in over their heads, and found a way to book their losses to the little non-entity whose only distinguishing feature was his resemblance to Tom Cruise?

Pure speculation, of course, although the linked article has several sources who hint as much.

—et alia

roger said...

E.A. - I'm sorta joking here - I don't think for a second this second tier trader lost a convenient 7 billion dollars for a bank that seemingly dodged the bullet re mortgage backed swaps. Let's call this - putting your losses in one scapegoat basket.

There's plenty of evidence somebody from S.G. made bets in January on futures and unwound them, but M. blancbec was surely getting a little "help" from a higher up. Remember, the French upper corporate grouposcule is corrupt as fuck.

Dominic said...

The Houellebecq novelisation practically writes itself! The banality of trading (lots of deliberately boring detail here, which looks like its going to be germane to the development of the plot but isn't because - aha! - the plot never really develops, as such), the low-level sneakiness of Kerviel's famed circumvention of what were obviously some very shoddy security systems, the glossy magazine fantasies of sex and success, the inability to live them out even when the money to do so was abundantly available...