Wall Street’s poster child of hot money08.29.2005 :: United States
‘Are you kidding? That’s standard operating procedure down there, joost lika Florida in 2000. Where we gonna get 20% interest rates’? Marty amused himself imitating the way he thought immigrant workers spoke.
David sighed, ‘Alas, you’re right. We have done so well with the Worker President.’ He glanced at the framed poster of President Lula hanging behind Marty’s desk. Under the cheerful smiling face was a quote -I am no demagogue-, interest and unemployment rates will stay at 20%.
Marty turned around and pointed at the poster. ‘Thanks to bets we made -I made- on the Brazilian currency, iron and soya,, I bought my summer dream house in Martha’s Vineyard*, paid off the million dollar mortgage on out flat in the Upper East Side** of Manhattan and I can afford to pay the tuition for my kids at Ivy League colleges***.’
‘Marty, you hit right on Lula - I mean playing the Brazilian market. Everybody on the ‘Street’**** was expecting something else, you know a leftist flame thrower!’ David looked up at his partner. He was slightly awed by his foresight in deconstructing the former metal worker-turned stock market poster-boy.
‘Nothing brilliant, my boy, just brush away the electoral rhetoric, which gets the left-wingers shouting and jumping, and look at who he signs agreements with - the International Monetary Fund. Who’s on his economic first team - a ‘Who’s Who’ of CEOs. Who gets shafted ‘everybody who voted for him and actually makes things people need.’
‘David, I know this sounds a bit cynical, but I signed the million dollar mortgage for our summer place the day I read that Lula slashed the federal budget for low income housing and public health and froze the minimum wage. I mean, David, their budget surplus was going to Our People on the Street*.’
‘Yeah. It gained our confidence.’ David snickered.
‘It gave me confidence to take a million dollar mortgage on our summer home, to invest a big chunk of our equity funds in Brazilian debt and double our returns. We had new clients climbing out of toilets.’
‘OK, Marty, that’s all well and good for the past 2 years but now the regime is up to its ears in shit, caught bribing congressmen, paying off PR people out of the public treasury. You know if there’s a coup, or something like an impeachment, the Market will react.’
‘Of course it would react, it would drop. But its not going to happen. When you sign agreements with the IMF, like our friend Lula, you buy insurance against military coups. You know something I researched when I was at Wharton’***** there has never been a coup against a government signed up with the IMF. If the military try to bugger an IMF client, where will they go for dollars afterwards’ They all know that! Impeachment, dubious proposition: Lula’s still got a following among the trade union bosses on his payroll, and there are probably a good many hungry slum-dwellers who get a food basket and might come out in the streets and raise hell if Congress gives Lula the boot. You know with some of these poor squatters, the more you screw them the better they like it - Naw, no impeachment, just harassment til next year’s elections. Anyway the opposition will follow where Lula left off. Nothing to worry about.’ Marty leaned back satisfied.
‘Do you think we should advise our clients to move more funds into our Brazil Fund?’ David asked, now convinced that there was little downside risk.
‘Of course - a sure thing, big bucks - in 30 day notes or nothing longer than 90 days,’ Marty laughed.
‘We can make a small bundle printing up and selling Lula posters, Poster Child of Hot Money,’ David joked.
Marty ignored him. He was already looking over a prospectus from the Transitional Government of Haiti. Shaking his head, he muttered, ‘You can’t match Brazil.’
*Hot Money - Finance capital flight from developing countries to Euro-American Banks
**Upper East Side - Exclusive neighborhood in Manhattan.
***Ivy League colleges - Exclusive private colleges for the elite.
****The Street - Wall Street
*****Wharton - Exclusive business school
August 29, 2005