Selig Cartwright And Global Warming (a new Goldman Sachs washroom attendant adventure)
Mr. B. You’re late this morning. Forget to take your bran flakes with breakfast?
Just too busy to get away sooner, Selig. Following the energy bill before Congress. It’s back on the front burner because of what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico. But its global warming provisions are being dropped. That could cost us money.
I don’t understand, sir. I don’t understand why global warming is of interest to Goldman Sachs.
That’s because you don’t understand the company’s inner workings, Selig.
Beg to differ, sir. No one understands the company’s inner workings better than the washroom crew.
Point taken, Selig. What I mean is that Goldman stands to make big money, really big money, if an energy bill containing certain provisions that are supposed to reduce global warming becomes law — if the bill lets polluters buy and sell credits allowing them to keep from cleaning up their polluting act. Someone would have to handle those trades, and investment banks are all lining up to do the dirty — so to speak. We’re talking here mega bonuses for our traders.
Not to be disparaging, Mr. B. but that’s crazy. I mean, if you want to stop companies from polluting, you just enforce laws better, you fine them more to make them stop. You don’t let them buy the right to pollute.
Selig, Selig, Selig. Not to throw disparaging back at you, but you still haven’t fully entered the world of counter-intuitive Wall Street thinking. Commonsense would have kept us from promoting lending to people and governments that couldn’t possibly pay it back. But did that stop us? Heck no, and we made a ton of money in consequence. Now, instead of being locked into the old ‘cap and enforce’ way of thinking, we’re pushing ‘cap and trade,’ the counter-intuitive solution to pollution, a trading approach that brings the mighty power of the market into play to save the planet. And a whole lot of new cash to The Street.
And the Administration and Congress went along on this?
Went along? For awhile they loved it! They were going to tax the pollution credits we peddled. Make it a cap, trade, tax plan. Everyone would win. Except now people in Washington have gotten a little queasy about our great cap and trade idea. They relabeled it ‘carbon pricing,’ but the public still isn’t buying. Now an energy bill might not even include cap and trade.
Would that really be bad for the environment, sir?
Good question, Selig. I’ll have to give that one a lot of thought. For now, did that new batch of green magazines I requested arrive?
On the shelf in your private Stall 8, sir. Next to the new Esquire and GQ.
I’ll check ’em out right now, Selig. We’re all thinking green these days, you know.
This author can be reached at wallstreetpoet.com