Life imitates art–in the case Mel Brooks’ classic “The Producers”–which I’ll bet was imitating life to start with. Although this is about Broadway, the ease with which theatrical financiers can be fooled joins is of a piece with the high finance sleight of hand I’ve been commenting on of late.
The fired ethics officer allegedly kept bad records and while stepping on some big Cook County toes. So off she goes, while the nepotism she had targeted lives on.
Forget the specifics–the point is the agency doesn’t, or can’t, do much to change what is reportedly a chronic problem. Entrenched cultures tend to do this–downside be damned.
Detroit’s critical fiscal condition represents a structural cancer growing in a number of U.S. jurisdictions, including states such as Illinois. The bankruptcy court may well sign off on radical surgery that will fracture existing notions of what’s due bondholders, civil service pensioners and current employees. So it is not surprising that Detroit’s story will be closely watched by those involved, both directly and, in other jurisdictions, by proxy.
Profiteering manipulations of the California energy market, a practice Enron pioneered, this time allegedly by JP Morgan Chase. Electricity traded around via “schemes” that picked the pocket of state authorities, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. So, yet again, fast-talking, sleight of hand, contractual labyrinths and doctored documents–cautionary emails allegedly morphed into endorsements–pass for productive economic activity, which very likely earned the masterminds kudos and bonuses at the time. An empty-calorie economy!