Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blaming it on the Brooklyn College Guy

Who was responsible for bringing the global financial system to its knees? According to Princeton alumnus Michael Lewis, and MIT alumnus Jake DeSantis (one of the only current or former traders at AIG's Financial Products division willing to speak to Lewis on the record), it was Brooklyn College alumnus Joe Cassano (pictured above), a cop's son whose status insecurities caused him to yell a lot at his underlings over issues as trivial as who left the weights on the Smith machine1. So claims Lewis in his Vanity Fair article on the implosion of AIG's Financial Products division, "The Man Who Crashed the World" (Hat Tip: Real Clear Markets). Allowing a number of AIG F.P.'s traders to impugn Cassano anonymously was apparently the price Lewis had to pay for his access, but the article is worth reading anyway, as Lewis's Wall Street articles usually are.

1Given Lewis's familiarity with sports as well as finance, while reading the anecdote about the Smith machine, I wondered if Lewis would bring the Smith machine up later in the article as a metaphor for hedging risk, but no dice.


JK said...

Goldman Sachs as usual seems to be lapping everyone else in strategy. But in this Wall Street game, even the losers get rich. And hey, Cassano's T'bills sure did well in the wake of the crisis, maybe he should get some props here for hedging against the disaster he facilitated....OK on second thought, maybe not.

Smith machines also make people think they are stronger than they really are. Real men use free weights. I love to hear about how much guys at the water cooler can "bench" or "squat" on them. Usually it's the little office gyms for atrophied, unathletic pudge-people (most cubicle workers) that have them. Yeah, Lewis definately missed an opportunity there!

DaveinHackensack said...

Smith machines have their place, e.g., when spotters are unavailable. The real joke is when people brag about how much they can leg press. There was a column in Slate or somewhere once about that. If memory serves, it was prompted by Madeleine Albright mentioning to some interviewer how she could leg press hundreds of pounds.

JK said...

Yeah, the leg press boasts are pretty good, here's Pat Robertson saying he leg pressed 2000 pounds because of some "age-defying protein shake" he came up with. Lol @ that pic, with Robertson giving his legs some help with his arms.

I think I remember that article in Slate. Leg presses don't even build much strength because they don't stress your CNS; if you do squats then they aren't even worth the time. I stopped doing them a long time ago. Squats, deadlifts, and calf raises done right and faithfully take care of the lower body and core just fine. (BTW, is it just me or do calf muscles never seem to grow much in size, no matter how much you increase their strength?)

DaveinHackensack said...

I haven't lifted in a while, but I never made much progress with calves. Genetics probably have something to do with it. I should start lifting again -- I've been thinking of a quick workout I read about -- but first I'm trying to do Club KO consistently, and after that I'm usually wiped.