Thursday, October 2, 2008

Broke Brokers Nothing New

According to Sereno Pratt’s book The Work of Wall Street: “The word broker is old. The early English form was broceur. By some it is believed to be derived from the Saxon word broc, which meant, misfortune and the first brokers indeed appear to have been men who had failed in business as principals and been compelled to pick up a precarious living as agents.” Too much greed, too many gambles, bad luck and out and out stupidity have all been known to lead to financial ruin.

The Internet and the news media continue to buzz with people describing their sense of pleasure at seeing the rich fare poorly. The number of "schadenfreudes" in recent news stories are too numerous to recount. The Boston Phoenix added a little color today by coining "schadenfreude-riffic."

"Turns out, Wall Street’s just as fallible as me," wrote Kara Baskin. "I know it’s kind of unpatriotic and cruel, but there’s something schadenfreude-riffic about watching arrogant and formerly rich assholes scurry for help, tails between their legs. The New York Times said it best: 'Wall Street traders began to believe that the values they had assigned to all sorts of assets were rational because, well, they had assigned them.'”