19 January 2009

Greenspan, Obama, and Pooh Bear

This is embarrassing, but a long time ago I got sidetracked reading Greenspan's memoirs, The Age of Turbulence, and am only just now finishing it. So here he has already come out with a second edition, and I'm still plodding through the first one.

I'm also finally reading Obama's Dreams of My Father.

You see, my New Year's Resolution #53 is to become The New Jenny, a Serial Monogamist when it comes to books rather than the Polygamist that I had been.

Part 1 of Greenspan's book, a narrative of his life, is fascinating. Part 2 is The Greenspan View on Everything. Now maybe it's because I'm a professional Fed watcher --for years I've made a living in part by reading every word of every Fed speech-- so already knew the Greenspan View on Everything, but for whatever reason, I am finding part 2 dull. I'm tempted to ditch it unfinished.

You may ask, "Jenny, how would you compare and contrast the two men?" Well, Greenspan strikes me as a Very Simple Man, who knows exactly who he is and what he believes. Obama, by contrast, is A Tortured Soul.

You may ask, "Jenny, do you see yourself at all in either these two Great Men?" Yes I do. For example:

Greenspan loves data. Signoret loves data too. She slurps it up.

Obama is a tortured soul. Signoret is a tortured soul too. She broods and can't say anything without prefacing it with long lists of caveats.

Greenspan and Obama have ideologies, but at the end of the day, they're both pragmatists. Signoret is a pragmatist too. She gets things done.

Greenspan and Obama are Famous and Powerful Men.

Signoret is a pragmatist too.


Speaking of Obama, I have to tell you something funny about Winnie the Pooh. (You may ask, but Jenny, what does this have to do with the global economy? I answer you this: EVERYTHING is about the global economy. Why do you think I "specialize" in it?)

Last summer I hired a mathematician who very quickly turned into a budding analyst, and just as quickly into A New Friend.

So one day on our Tea Break at the Quarry Stone Table, we decided to form A Book Club. We scrawled out some rules:

Our Very Speshal Book Club Rools
  1. Lend to Club Members, one by one, all your favorite books. ("On the planet?" asked Andrés.)
  2. Before deciding to quit reading a borrowed book, read it all the way to page 50. ("Do we have to?" asked Andrés. "Yes," I said.)
  3. When traveling with borrowed books, protect them in Ziploc bags. ("You mean so they don't get wrinkled?" asked Andrés. "Creased", I corrected.)
  4. Make little jokes that allude to borrowed books for the rest of your lives. ("That's my favorite rule," Andrés said happily.)
I knew just what book to lend to Andrés first! I ran the whole four steps home from my office, then all the way back to "work" and breathlessly handed him, in a single volume, Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

(Yikes. I just remembered that I once shipped this book as a gift to a colleague who's a Very Refined Former Central Banker. What is it with me and Winnie the Pooh?)

Now, one of the best reasons for having a Book Club at work is that you and your co-workers can sprinkle Sophisticated Literary Allusions into office communication. For example, just the other day Andrés exclaimed, "Get a load of the title of Obama’s stimulus plan! It was written by A. A. Milne." I peered at his print-out of the plan and my eyes found the title: Barack Obama's Plan to Stimulate the Economy and Protect American Families. Indeed, how Milnesque!

We go on like this, you see. Just the other day, I confessed to Andrés, "You know, Andrés, don't tell anyone, but sometimes, when pondering credit derivative swaps, I feel like a Bear of Very Little Brain."

He says it in Spanish: "Todavía soy un Oso de Cerebro Pequeñito en cuestiones de política monetaria de la India".

And then there was last Friday's Skype message of his: "Did you see Japan's new factory orders? -14%. I'd say the global economy is in a Very Deep Pit."

Tell the truth now: don't you wish that you too worked at TransEconomics so you could do the literary thing with us?

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha! EVERYONE should read Winnie the Pooh and allude to it in all aspects of his life. It's useful and it shows you're educated.

    I agree with your opinion on Greenspan's book; I ditched the second part.