A Cautionary Tale for Bankers, with Apologies to Hillaire Belloc

In the Financial Times today, Martin Dickson’s amusing admonition to bankers and their regulators.  If you happened to be the kind of parent who read your kid Hillaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children, this will all seem like familiar terrain.  Here is a bit from the opening:

There was a time when naughty boys
Would have to forfeit all their toys,
And go to bed without their food
To force a new, repentant mood
Upon the wretched little toads,
Who flouted our great social codes.


Nor was blind arrogance a trait
That parents liked to inculcate.
They had regard for social graces:
Not for their offsprings’ haughty faces.
A beastly child engaged in folly
Would surely have to say: “I’m sorry!”

But now we live in debased times,
Sans punishment to fit our crimes
Our moral compass has got lost,
Or on the rubbish heap been tossed.
As in this cautionary tale of bankers,
Who came to look like social cankers.

You will all know the basic story,
In all its venal details, gory.
Of how a bunch of peerless clowns
Despite degrees – from Yale to Brown –
Behaved like schoolboys in the lab,
When teacher’s gone to smoke a fag.

Exuberant beyond all reason
(For this or any other season)
Fired up by dreams of starter castles,
Sardinian yachts and vineyard parcels,
They built themselves a strange device –
A ticking bomb, to be precise.

The trouble was they did not know,
It was a bomb ’twas ticking so.
They thought it merely marked the beat
That called them to stay on their feet
And dance away – to really bop –
To music that would never stop.