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As I glanced at the TV News last night I saw the stock market indices such as the Dow Jones, Nikkei, Hang Seng, Nasdaq etc. and pondered why on earth global stock markets have become a fundamental part of our news programs on TV . Why do news producers insist stock markets are so important to the average TV news viewer? It’s up there with the weather as essential information. Why such an emphasis on the immediacy of the markets? Well, it seems the dominant view is that the stock market is all important because if the stock market is healthy then our economy is healthy.
Alongside this primacy of the market, we are being fed a narrative that “growth is good” and that our economy is in pretty good shape considering the aftermath of the GFC. Wayne Swan, the Federal Treasurer, stated in early March 2013: “Australia has managed to achieve solid growth in the December quarter at a time when around half of all advanced economies contracted, including five major advanced economies.” So growth is good according to Euromoney Magazine’s 2011 Treasurer of the Year. Growth is good, so the wisdom goes, because it solves unemployment, thus widening the tax base to meet government expenditure and the redistribution of wealth. A strumpet might argue that this is arse-about; that surely employment is the key to growth, but I digress.
The “Growth is good” mantra along with the relentless focus on financial markets may be something we should be concerned about if we are not corporate psychopaths or their acolytes. Let’s consider what has been occurring in an era of “unprecedented growth” where corporate psychopaths have thrived in environments of rapid change, high turnover of key staff, and, where “growth” is the KPI for success, so that a “whatever it takes” mentality is venerated and rewarded. Before and after the 2007 GFC, government (i.e. taxpayer) bailouts of frankly, criminal banks such as Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, London Scottish Bank, IndyMac Bank etc. were the reward for a whole population of corporate psychopaths in the financial sectors. The pursuit of growth appears to give the psychopath a mantle of protection. Why weren’t these criminals held to account? Well this is what US Attorney General Eric Holder had to say about banksters in the USA during the GFC:
“I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” he said. “And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.” http://www.alternet.org/economy/outrage-some-banks-are-too-big-prosecute
Our Stock Exchanges and Banks are loaded with corporate psychopaths, whose rather unwholesome qualities mean they do very well in their employer’s psychometric testing. Qualities such as empathy, people management skills, esprit des corps and emotional intelligence are definitely not sought as positive attributes for key personnel in the financial industries. Evidence suggests that corporate psychopaths are concentrated in these sectors because they are attracted to competitive environments that offer power, prestige and money to the right takers.
In ‘The Psychopath Test’, Professor Robert Hare told the author Jon Ronson: “I should have spent some time inside the Stock Exchange as well. Serial killer psychopaths ruin families. Corporate and political and religious psychopaths ruin economies. They ruin societies.” Hare’s view is reinforced by Clive Boddy’s (2011) peer-reviewed paper “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” which outlines how highly-placed psychopaths in the banking sector nearly brought down the world economy.
“If the Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis is correct then we are now far from the end of the crisis. Indeed, it is only the end of the beginning”.
Corporate Psychopathology Exhibit A is Dick Fuld, former head psychopath honcho of Lehman Brothers with a penchant for “ripping out hearts”. Have a look at this couple of seconds of footage:
NY Mayor Bloomberg had this to say about Dick at a news conference: “There’s Lehman Brothers, who I feel very sorry for, Dick Fuld, I’ve known for 40 years, who’s a competent guy, and people are criticizing him. They didn’t criticize him when things were going well for an awful lot of years.” No. They didn’t. In fact he was feted for his success.
Brave and brilliant US Senator and strumpet, Elizabeth Warren asks: “What does it take, how many billions of dollars do you launder from drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution?” Senator Elizabeth Warren has been attacked for her standpoint, probably because it’s just not nice to criticize “competent guys” in the financial sector who walk away from the smoking debris of their collapsed corporations with millions of dollars and apparently clean consciences…Only to rise again as consultants and advisors to government and other corporations to tell them how to avoid disasters such as the ones they have previously overseen. Oh the irony.
Here in Australia, The High Court ruled that several directors of the former asbestos manufacturer James Hardie Industries PLC breached their duties by approving a misleading statement about a fund for asbestos victims. One of these former Directors, Meredith Hellicar, now advises up and coming directors on corporate governance. So it seems cheating, lying, causing harm to others and stealing is a necessary means to the ends, and this “whatever it takes” mentality gives corporate psychopaths a righteous sense of impunity even when they are hauled before the courts. And then we have elite sport so favoured by governments and corporations where huge injections (no pun intended) of public and corporate funding and sponsorship deals have enabled creatures like Cyclopath Lance Armstrong to be seen as heroes.
Corporate psychopathology has tentacles that stretch and clasp all areas of society. Whether we are talking about politics, business or consumers, each and every one of us is culpable to some degree, because it is the mind-set and values of immediate gratification and deferred accountability (in the guise of “growth”) that have enabled corporate psychopaths to flourish. We are living in a culture where the corporate psychopath is the piper we pay, but s/he calls the tune and it’s the same one over and over, ‘Whatever it takes’…and we are all singing along with them. The corporate psychopath is the dark side of the choices we make as consumers and as citizens.