according to some in the professions. The psychological/psychiatric and banking professions both. Even some in law and politics agree.
"In a paper recently published in the Journal of Business Ethics entitled 'The Corporate Psychopaths: Theory of the Global Financial Crisis,' Clive R Boddy identifies these people as psychopaths.Now they tell us.
"They are," he says, "simply the 1 per cent of people who have no conscience or empathy." And he argues: "Psychopaths, rising to key senior positions within modern financial corporations, where they are able to influence the moral climate of the whole organisation and yield considerable power, have largely caused the [banking] crisis.'
And Mr Boddy is not alone. In Jon Ronson's widely acclaimed book The Psychopath Test, Professor Robert Hare told the author: "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."
Cut to a pleasantly warm evening in Bahrain. My companion, a senior UK investment banker and I, are discussing the most successful banking types we know and what makes them tick. I argue that they often conform to the characteristics displayed by social psychopaths. To my surprise, my friend agrees.
"He then makes an astonishing confession: "At one major investment bank for which I worked, we used psychometric testing to recruit social psychopaths because their characteristics exactly suited them to senior corporate finance roles.' "
Mr Ronson reports: "Justice departments and parole boards all over the world have accepted Hare's contention that psychopaths are quite simply incurable and everyone should concentrate their energies instead on learning how to root them out."
But, far from being rooted out, they are still in place and often in positions of even greater power.
As Mr Boddy warns: "The very same corporate psychopaths, who probably caused the crisis by their self-seeking greed and avarice, are now advising governments on how to get out of the crisis. Further, 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."
Ayn Rand, who is again in the news as the monomaniacal atheist über-Capitalist Muse of Rep. Paul Ryan, praised a psychopathic kidhnapper and murderer, William Hickman, to the skies, as the exact model of her Objectivist hero.
[Hickman] kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul…Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.” She called him “a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy,” shimmering with “immense, explicit egotism.” Rand had only one regret: “A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough.”Ayn Rand's most famous acolyte is Alan Greenspan. Here is part of his testimony to Congress on the financial meltdown in 2008:
From Greenspan's prepared statement:
As I wrote last March, those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief. Such counterparty surveillance is a central pillar of our financial markets state of balance.Ah. The self-interest of psychopaths, who have no interest in your opinion of their honesty and integrity. As Greenspan trained himself to think under the guidance of Ayn Rand.
From the hearing:
REP. WAXMAN: Well, where do you think you made a mistake, then?No, you fool, the facts have not changed. (See, for example, This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. None of this is news, except to Chicago-trained economists who hold as an article of faith that there are no bubbles.) You were willfully, intentionally blind to bankers who knew the risks perfectly well, blithely preparing to take their firms, the country, indeed the world over the cliff in the certainty of a government bailout and continued bonuses. You were out promoting your Objectivist fantasy of the noble Capitalist, which taught you to glorify what we supposedly were relying on you to prevent.
MR. GREENSPAN: I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms. And it's been my experience, having worked both as a regulator for 18 years and similar quantities in the private sector, especially 10 years at a major international bank, that the loan officers of those institutions knew far more about the risks involved in the people to whom they lent money than I saw even our best regulators at the Fed capable of doing.
So the problem here is, something which looked to be a very solid edifice, and indeed a critical pillar to market competition and free markets, did break down. And I think that, as I said, shocked me.
I still do not fully understand why it happened. And obviously, to the extent that I figure out where it happened and why, I will change my views. And if the facts change, I will change.