Calling the margins
Wednesday 23 January 2013, 1.23am HKT
Updated 19 Feb 2013 (format fixes)
DIALOGUES from the movie “Margin Call” (2011), a tightly wound independent drama film about what takes place over a 36-hour period at a large Wall Street investment bank and highlights the initial stages of the financial crisis of 2007–2008.
HOW IT’S ALL DONE
“There are three ways to make a living in this business — be first, be smarter, or cheat. Now I don’t cheat. And while I think we’ve got some pretty smart people in this building, it’s better to be first.”
~ CEO John Tuld (played by Jeremy Irons)
The perceptive will ask, can I cheat smarter first?
Which is why the CEO John Tuld told his floor head Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) this later on when the brown stuff should hit the fan:—
Sam: You’re panicking.
John: If you’re first out the door, it’s not called panicking.
ON WHAT’S RIGHT
Head of trading desk Will Emerson (played by Paul Bettany) tells ‘wonder boy’ head of capital markets Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) like it is:—
Jared: Sometimes in an acute situation such as this, often what is right can take on multiple interpretations. I need to know if you will step up.
Will: I’m sure Sam will step up. But just to make sure, Sam and I have always had the SAME interpretation of what’s right — not matter HOW ACUTE the situation.
In other words, if you don’t stand your ground, the bastards are going to pull the rug from under your feet, namsayin’?
Reality check about what we do, what we give, what we get:—
“Jesus, Seth. Listen, if you really wanna do this with your life you have to believe you’re necessary — and you ARE. People wanna live like this in their cars and big f–ckin’ houses they can’t even pay for — then you’re necessary. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is ’cause we got our fingers on the scales in their favour. I take my hand off — and then the whole world gets really f–ckin’ fair really f–ckin’ quickly, and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don’t. They want what we have to give them but they also wanna, you know, play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from. Well, that’s more hypocrisy than I’m willing to swallow, so f–ck ’em. F–ck normal people. You know, the funny thing is, tomorrow, if all of this goes tits up, they’re gonna crucify us for being too reckless. But if we’re wrong, and everything gets back on track? Well then, the same people are gonna laugh till they piss their pants ’cause we’re gonna all look like the biggest pussies God ever let through the door. Listen, nothing I’m gonna say is going to make you feel any better. It’s just going to suck for a while and then you’ll be fine.”
~ Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) to junior risk analyst Seith Bregman (Penn Badgley)
Everyone’s living some kind of lie, including yourself.
THE UNCHANGING MIX
If there’s a winner, there HAS TO BE a loser somewhere:—
“So you think we might have put a few people out of business today, that it’s all for naught. You’ve been doing that every day for almost 40 years, Sam. And if this is all for naught, then so is everything out there.
“It’s just money. It’s made up — pieces of paper with pictures on it so we don’t have to kill each other just to get something to eat. It’s not wrong. And it’s certainly no different today than it’s ever been: 1637, 1797, 1819, 1837, 1857, 1884, 1901, 1907, 1929, 1937, 1974, 1987 — Jesus! Didn’t THAT f–ck me up good! — 1992, 1997, 2000 — and whatever we want to call THIS.
“It’s all just the same thing over and over; we can’t help ourselves. And you and I can’t control it, or stop it, or even slow it. Or even ever so slightly alter it. We just react. And we make a lot money if we get it right, and we get left by the side of the road if we get it wrong.
“And there have always been and there always will be the same percentage of winners and losers. Happy foxes and sad sacks. Fat cats and starving dogs in this world. Yeah, there may be more of us today than there’s ever been. But the percentages — they stay exactly the same.“
~ CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons)
Which side of the proportion do YOU often find yourself in?
WHO ARE WE SELLING THIS TO?
The real caveat about value, sellability, buyability and priceability:—
Sam Rogers: The real question is, who are we selling this to?
John Tuld: The same people we’ve been selling it to for the last two years and whoever else would buy it.
Sam: But John, if you do this, you will kill the market for years. It’s over.
Sam: And you’re selling something that you *know* has no value.
John: We are selling to willing buyers at the current fair market price — so that we may survive!
Sam: You would never sell anything to any of those people ever again.
John: I understand.
Sam: Do you?
John: Do YOU?! (Pounding the desk) THIS is it! I’m telling you, this is IT!
~ Dialogue between Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) and John Tuld (Jeremy Irons)
Just because you’re being sold something — anything — doesn’t mean it’s worth buying.
And we’re not just talking about investment products either.
You might just be ‘the season’
TABS, JUST KEEP TABS
Always, always have even a generic idea of how much your outgoings are, no matter how sinful the spending had been for.
Seth Bregman: Will?
Will Emerson: Yeah?
Seth: Did you really make two and half million bucks last year?
Will: Yeah … I did.
Peter Sullivan: What do you do with all that money?
Will: I don’t know, really. It goes pretty quick. You spend what you’ve got in your pocket. Well, the taxman takes half of it up front. That leaves you with, what, million and a quarter. The mortgage takes three hundred. I gave a hundred and fifty to my parents, just to keep them going, you know. So now you got, what —
Peter: Eight hundred.
Will: A hundred fifty for the car last year, another hundred for eating, fifty on clothes, put four hundred away for a rainy day…
Will: And what’s that?
Peter: One hundred twenty-five left.
Will: I spent 76,521 dollars on booze, dancers and whores.
Peter: Seventy-six five?
Will: Yeah, kinda shocked me too, although I was able to write most of it off as entertainment expenses! It’s true!
~ Dialogue between risk analysts Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) and Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) and head trader Will Emerson (Paul Bettany)
We can’t sin for long if we’re profligate with our sins!
SOMETHING TO SHOW FOR IT
In your own small way, do something to make your mark for the short time you’ll have lived in the world.
John Tuld: You’re one of the luckiest guys in the world, Sam. You could be digging ditches all these years.
Sam Rogers: That’s true. And if I had, at least there’d be some holes in the ground to show for it.
DIFFERENT STROKES, ACCEPT THAT
“Hey Eric! Don’t beat yourself too much about this stuff, all right? Some people like driving the long way home. Who the f–ck knows, right?”
~ Will Emerson as he is leaving ex-head of risk management Eric Dale’s [John Tucci] place
Some people just prefer the long way around things just to save their version of ‘time.’ It’s nothing personal.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2013. Updated 19 Feb 2013 (format fixes). (B13022)
Images: You Can’t Cheat Nature via Wikipedia | Keep Calm and Start Panicking via The Keep Calm-o-Matic | Sign Language Interpretation (modified) via Toronto Sports Media | Necessity McGyver via Fashionably Geek | You Have One New Message via Tarde o Temperano | Open Season on Idiots via Predictable History, Unpredictable Past | Danger screenshot via WonderHowTo | Animal in hole via eHow | Harold Jarvis’ Longrider 1901 via Rene K. Mueller.