Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Critical Thinking

David Denby, a critic who rarely misses a chance to insert his politics into reviews, has this on the forgettable thriller The International:

The real-world bank story is about the banality of greed, not about murder ordered at the highest levels. For years, thousands of ordinary financial workers created, sliced up, and repackaged ridiculous investments, not in bursts of viciousness but as a careless exercise of avarice. No one, I imagine, will make a movie about that kind of banking, though I’d like to see Mel Brooks give it a try, complete with a male chorus, the Derivative Boys, dancing with a BlackBerry in one hand and shooting quarterly-statement airplanes into the audience with the other.

So that's the problem, greed and derivatives. Since Denby understands our economic failure so well (and it's all about what banks do, stop looking at the government), I wish he'd tip us off to the next financial innovation that will cause trouble, because if we regulate too heavily the wrong way, everyone will be poorer. Heck, even derivatives might still be useful in the long run--I'm waiting for Denby to let me know.

As for the greed that got us here, I assume Denby is referring to the multimillionaire bankers who dealt in the derivatives Denby doesn't like, not the multimillionaire bankers who worked elsewhere.

Right now magazines and newspapers are in trouble. Denby, as a writer for The New Yorker, is doing better than 99.99% of the people in his profession. I'm not saying that's due to avarice, but I'm sure he won't dare ask for a raise any time soon, and should probably return his last one, since that's the sort of thing that isn't helping.


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