I can’t remember when I joined LinkedIn. Somebody asked me and I said yes to please. At some point I decided to notch up 500 contacts. It wasn’t difficult, as I wanted to be just a few keyboard strokes away from every high-profiled player in the trade finance and associated industries, and all of their lieutenants. It was always preferable to the miserable task of trying to schmooze around a conference, or ‘working the room’, as Jon termed it.
Maybe the contact number hit 600, but at some stage I stopped. It coincided with a growing weariness of my subject matter, and a sprouting desire for honest conversations, rather than the number of basis points over Libor warranted by Ukrainian political risk.
Imagine that I were to bump into an old contact.
“So what have you been up to Kevin? Haven’t seen you around for so long.”
“I’m glad you ask. I had my own financial crash four or five years before 2007-08, but for some strange reason couldn’t get state help. I know, unbelievable…..anyway remember when you lot bet so unwisely in the derivatives markets but were not held accountable? It made me start to think about the finance system.”
“Mmm…never tried that.”
“It accelerated when I started a Buddhist practice in 2012-13.”
“I have to be at a meeting soon Kevin.”
“I’ll be succinct. After a few years I concluded that a kind of finance curse is at work, where a hidden tide of money flows constantly from the weakest and most vulnerable up through invisible pipelines to an oligarchy. Being involved further down that chain is also very lucrative.”
“I’m late already. But it is nice work, if you can get it.”
“It has become clear that oligarchy use finance – as well as politics, technology and the mainstream media – to divide the rest of us and grow richer. Opportunities are not being distributed as widely or fairly as they once were. Even the pathway to middle-class security that was once viewed as a birthright no longer widely works: college, secure job, house and so on.”
“Them’s the breaks Kevin. See that homeless man over there? I wonder if the traumas of money may help to evolve society, weeding out the least fit.”
“And I wonder if the rigged, dysfunctional system is why mainstream political candidates and options are increasingly being rejected.”
“I really must go. Can you still earn a living, thinking like you do?”
“It’s tougher. Where are you going?”
“To suck Satan’s cock.”
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