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Wit and Wisdom

Payback

“And we’ll need all your receipts from 1947 to 1961, including purchases at newspaper stands and vending machines. In addition--”

“This is ridiculous!”

“What’s ridiculous? That the United States Government wants to audit the finances of one of the nation’s three debt-rating agencies, private organizations responsible for determining the credit-worthiness of every large institution in the world?”

“No, that you’re conducting a witch-hunt against Standard and Poor’s simply because we revoked your AAA bond rating.”

“Did you do that?  Huh. We didn’t notice.  I guess it’s because we tend to pay a lot more attention to what Moody’s and Fitch are doing these days.  They’re kind of more relevant. You know--more accurate and responsible. Cooler.  Anyway: did you supply us with your pre-World-War-I lease agreements yet?”

“Don’t give us that.  You’re mad at S&P because we downgraded you to AA+.  And that’s precisely what we should have done.  You’re dysfunctional.  You’re just lucky we didn’t lump you in with Albanian turnip bonds.  At least we know someone’s going to dig up the turnips next year. Do you know if you’ll have a budget next year?”

“Oh, we’ll have a budget.  In fact, the budget for credit-rating investigations will be practically unlimited.  So, do you know the marital status of all your employees great grandparents?  We’re going to need copies of their blood tests.”

“Instead of having this temper tantrum, you should be figuring out how to get Democrats and Republicans to see eye-to-eye.”

“We agree on one thing: S&P sucks tailpipes.”

“Nice.  Now try balancing your budget.  Shouldn’t be hard: you’re only off by about a trillion dollars a year.”

“Are you sure you don’t mean a buck ninety-seven?  Math hasn’t been your strong point lately.”

“It’s hard to do math when the federal government is using all the zeroes.”

“Not quite: check your boardroom.”

“Banana republic!”

“Bubble enablers!”

“Washington slackers!”

“Wall Street swindlers!”

“Bureaucrat!”

“Plutocrat!”

“Wait a minute.  This is getting us nowhere.  Maybe it’s different in government, but in business, you can always come to a mutually-agreeable understanding.  Just as a for instance: what would it take to make this whole fed probe go away?”

“Oh, you mean, what would cause the Justice Department to conclude its investigation without significant findings of misconduct and no referral to the Criminal Division?  Hard to say: ever since the credit downgrade, we’ve had to push really hard on possible financial malfeasance, just in case there’s any uncollected taxes involved. And changing the subject entirely: what would it take to get our triple A rating back?”

“Oh, you mean, what’s the procedure for a reappraisal of endemic credit risk in the light of new circumstances?  Well, first of all it takes a lot of man-hours, and unfortunately right now a big chunk of our staff is tied up in responding to this federal investigation.”

“Hmm.”

“Hmm.”

“Think we have a deal.  Who says Americans can't work together anymore?”


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