Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: February 10, 2009 Archive

An Emotional Ponzi Scheme

Posted at 5:13 AM on February 10, 2009 by Dale Connelly (32 Comments)

Here's a Valentine's week excerpt from one of my favorite advice columns!

Dear B. Marty Barry,

I am the former CEO of a bank holding corporation, and I have been dating a hedge fund manager for quite some time.
For Valentine's Day two years ago, I gave my darling a romantic weekend in Jamaica, and she reciprocated with an expensive Italian bike.
Last year, I upped the ante and took her on a two week vacation to Spain, and she responded with the gift of a candy apple red Lamborghini.
Recklessly expensive, I know, but ... that's us!
We loved being in love in the no-cost-is-too-high Wall Street culture.
This year, things have changed.
My love has let it be known that she will show her devotion with a convenient case of amnesia should she be called to testify about some things I said to a group of investors last spring regarding the strength of my company's worthless stock.
I'm in Federal lock-up right now, but I was planning to send her a box of stale, waxy chocolates one of the guards is selling on the sly.
Her gift is a lot better. I'm worried that she'll be offended.
Is our relationship doomed?

Incarcerated in Carson City

Dear Incarcerated I.C.C.,

Yes, but it was doomed as soon as you adopted that tit-for-tat Valentine Gift policy. Your romantic economy was locked in an inflationary spiral of the worst possible kind, and a day of reckoning was bound to come.
It sounds like a global financial meltdown was all it took to scuttle your love boat.
The question is: how do you recover?
The box of waxy chocolates is a toxic asset. Nothing good can come of it, and yet someone is going to have to gulp them down and not complain about it before things can even begin to get better.
Perhaps your hedge fund manager is that person.
You might be surprised.
And if she's caught lying about your insider trading activities, she could wind up in the slammer right beside you before the year is out.
Wouldn't that be a lovely outcome?
Adjoining cells with free meals and lots of "together" (but still separate) time could be the ideal way for two lovebirds to ride out this financial storm. It could happen!
But then ... I'm an optimist!


B. Marty Barry.

Is B. Marty right?
Is it a sign that we have a lasting romance if someone can accept our lame gifts without complaining?

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