Work with me here.
Here’s the situation. Based on a true story.
You run a well established bank – let’s say, a Canadian bank called CanadaBank.
You borrow $Millions from Canadians by issuing Citizens Savings Bonds and offer them decent interest.
You take that money you’ve raised and lend it out at higher rate to another country, ’cause that’s what bankers do, and you’re a banker. Let’s call it the country of Perezo.
Perezo. Oh, Perezo. Perezo is run by a Military General (MG) who keeps law and order, true, but at dear cost to the citizens.
Western Democracy it’s not.
You hear rumours that MG, who promised he’d use the money to build infrastructure for water and transportation, instead siphons off most of it to his relatives and friends and also uses a lot of it to bribe judges. But it’s not really any of your business and you are getting the loan payments back on time, with interest, which you then give back to your Cdn. citizen Bond holders, keeping the profit.
But then the citizens of Perezo revolt successfully.
Overnight, MG is gone. In his place is a revolutionary, beloved by the people, named Juan. He pledges to end corruption, fire the bribed judges, and free the people MG had imprisoned. He is also contemplating kicking out all foreign businesses.
Your phone rings. It’s Juan. He wants a meeting with you. In Perezo. You fly down to meet him, keenly aware that Juan could give a rats ass about you or your bank.
The meeting goes worse than you anticipated. Juan notes how your bank’s money had enabled MG to purchase the guns that had mowed down citizens in the streets. How it paid off judges who imprisoned some of the country’s best thinkers who had dared speak out against MG and his henchmen. And he shrugs off your rebuttals that you had lent it to be used to build infrastructure, asking you, “where is it? Do you see water towers? Do you see good streets?”.
You develop a cold sweat because you realize you may well not see a penny of that money back. And your bank owes it to the people of Canada.
Readers – over to you. Dig deep into that inner armchair economist in you. What would you say to Juan to convince him to honour MG’s commitment to repay the loan?
ps – This is a real situation faced by a top banker. I have a book he recently wrote about his banking adventures, called “Banker to the World“. Chapter One describes how he handled it. You get the book (maybe) if you take a shot at responding in the comments! (one book to give away. if more than one brave soul answers, it will be by random draw)
Photo Credit: UberZombie