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As a banker, you have no lack of opportunities to look into the human soul
December 30, 2011 2:42 PM   Subscribe

As the former head of Deutsche Bank, Hilmar Kopper was once the most powerful banker in Germany. In an interview with SPIEGEL, the 76-year-old takes stock of his career and the current crisis shaking Europe. The three main constants he has seen in the world, he says, are "money, avarice and greed."
posted by chavenet (21 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Added Kopper, "...and in all those years, not once did I ever learn how to properly use a synonym."
posted by leotrotsky at 2:46 PM on December 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


maybe he shouldn't have been hanging out with people in finance
posted by joost de vries at 2:48 PM on December 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kopper: ...In short, mistakes were made, the kinds of mistakes that have been inherent in every innovation and every bubble from time immemorial, and that emerge when the bubble bursts. Everything has its price.

What a Deutsche bag.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:54 PM on December 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


Meanwhile, Germans are obsessing over inflation rates while smaller EU countries are having their economies destroyed.
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I keep seeing this practice of using "finance is complicated" as a defense of the industry's practices. I'm not sure that's going to play very well if the economy gets bad enough.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 3:10 PM on December 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am glad you linked this here. It's not necessarily particularly eye opening, but I am a little surprised that my cynicism isn't as misconceived as I had secretly hoped it was. This is almost exactly how I would have thought the Old Guard would perceive things.

I pictured Mr. Kopper like this.
posted by Xoebe at 3:11 PM on December 30, 2011


from post: “The three main constants he has seen in the world, he says, are ‘money, avarice and greed.’”

Not sure what that first one is; I think that must be one of those ancient and untranslatable words that now only exists in German. The other two are familiar enough, though.
posted by koeselitz at 3:24 PM on December 30, 2011


Meanwhile, Germans are obsessing over inflation rates while smaller EU countries are having their economies destroyed.

Damn those Germans for maintaining an industrial base, paying their taxes, and not indulging in deficit spending. They should give all their money away and eat dirt.
posted by rodgerd at 3:32 PM on December 30, 2011 [9 favorites]


The three main constants he has seen in the world, he says, are "money, avarice and greed."

Lucky him, for money has been a constant presence in his world.
posted by vidur at 3:34 PM on December 30, 2011


That picture of the Lehman guy leaving the congressional hearings is worthy of a fark photoshop contest. It is almost impossible to imagine a hundred millionaire (I presume Fuld is a hundred millionaire) looking more distraught. The interview was a little meh but the photo gallery is excellent.
posted by bukvich at 3:50 PM on December 30, 2011


"At any rate, I try to grapple with their accusations, even though they are often irrational, full of resentment and almost devoid of any knowledge about the subject."

That pretty much describes any Metafilter post about finance.
posted by falameufilho at 4:11 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The three main constants he has seen in the world, he says, are "money, avarice and greed."

Right, well, he's a banker. I suspect millions more people in less rarefied lines of work have mostly seen the corollaries of poverty, obstacles and deprivation.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:24 PM on December 30, 2011


I'm cool with E.U. economies not bailing one another out, especially if they reject bailing out banks who helped break certain E.U. economies too.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:26 PM on December 30, 2011


"Damn those Germans European financial institutions for maintaining lending to Greece, which was not maintaining an industrial base, collecting taxes, or avoiding deficit spending. They should give all their money away and eat dirt. all take huge haircuts on their reckless investments and stop expecting tax payers and public sector workers to shoulder their losses.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 4:40 PM on December 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


How do we get a better balance between the starving and the palaces? The tools and skills producers of actual goods and number crunchers? Maybe a good sized infrastructure collapse? A planetary EMP blast? There seems to be a total lack of respect, bordering on contempt on both sides. Less focus on rapid growth and more energy into sustainability? This seems to me to be too big of a problem for regulation. This is a basic flaw in the philosophy of our species. Extinction may be the only solution. We've had our fun, now it's the cockroaches turn
posted by Redhush at 5:39 PM on December 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm cool with E.U. economies not bailing one another out, especially if they reject bailing out banks who helped break certain E.U. economies too.
You have to either bail them out, or liquidate them. If you just leave them to sit then they become "Zombie Banks" and just sit there and soak up capital.

What the EU needs is for the ECB to lend money to other countries, to keep them from getting into a runaway debt situation where no one lends to them because they fear default, which causes their interest rates to go insanely high, which in turn makes it impossible for them to pay their current bondholders, which causes a default. That's what the central banks of the US/UK/ and Japan do, which is why their interest rates are still so low.
posted by delmoi at 6:04 PM on December 30, 2011


That picture of the Lehman guy leaving the congressional hearings is worthy of a fark photoshop contest. It is almost impossible to imagine a hundred millionaire (I presume Fuld is a hundred millionaire) looking more distraught.

He's distraught because he's muttering under his breath "Smithers let loose the pepper-spray wielding cops hounds" but his publicist has been trying to coach him to be more of a people person.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:34 PM on December 30, 2011


Added Kopper, "...and in all those years, not once did I ever learn how to properly use a synonym."
posted by leotrotsky


I had to check the definition of avarice, because I thought it might have some kind of extra nuance. But it does just pretty much mean greed. So we have money and greed as constants. The greed constant is near infinity, for all practical purposes, I'd guess.

But the money doesn't seem to be constant. Something of a dependent variable.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:35 PM on December 30, 2011


"I keep seeing this practice of using "finance is complicated" as a defense of the industry's practices. I'm not sure that's going to play very well if the economy gets bad enough."

Well, it worked in '29, '73, and '08.

Disclaimer: past performance is not a guarantee of future outcomes.
posted by Pinback at 11:06 PM on December 30, 2011


Damn those Germans for maintaining an industrial base, paying their taxes, and not indulging in deficit spending. They should give all their money away and eat dirt.
posted by rodgerd at 1:32 AM on December 31



I highly recommend watching this video with Dr. Heiner Flassbeck, (a former deputy secretary in the German Ministry of Finance and currently chief economist the UN agency for World Trade and Development in Geneva) (previously)

He does a good job refuting those common misconceptions and myths about the current euro crisis.
posted by ts;dr at 6:37 AM on December 31, 2011


I was kind of tantalized by the mention in the article of Kopper being photographed perched on a truck full of peanuts for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. Here's the photo, and here's the advertising agency's page for the overall ad campaign.

Apparently at the time when he used the word to describe the losses, it wasn't commonly used in German; the German Wikipedia page for peanuts is primarily about his usage of it, usage which caused "peanuts" to be named the Unwort des Jahres for 1994. (literally "unword" -- basically the most unfortunate or deceptive use of language of the year)

This page suggests that, due to all this, German usage of the term is now purely ironic: if someone describes something as peanuts, it must clearly be a hell of a lot of money.
posted by orthicon halo at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


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