A ‘Tsunami’ With ‘Shades of Kristallnacht’

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Photo: Huton Archive/Getty Images

For some wealthy people, there is no greater pain imaginable than the kind that comes with losing a lot of money. Which is why, we imagine, since the financial crisis began, various among them have chosen to compare events that have occurred during and after it to some of the most horrific events in history. Below, a brief sampling of some of the most over-the-top metaphors that have been ascribed to our economic condition by rich people.

• Comparisons between the market crash and 9/11 have quickly become so commonplace that they ceased to seem weird, although the following, which appeared in an article about former employees of Bernie Madoff Securities, still stood out: “As one longtime employee sadly observes, ‘12/11 was our own 9/11.’”

• This was a nice twofer from multimillionaire telecommunications mogul Ned Lamont. “It really is a financial tsunami, and it could go either way. How long does it take us to work through excessive leverage? That could take years not months. This is our Katrina.”

• A young banker described his work constructing collaterized debt obligations to the Observer thusly: “You have to do your job. You’re in the Army, and they send you to Vietnam. It’s not a good war, but they tell you to shoot. You shoot. It’s very complicated, but people don’t see that. I have a job. I tried to do that the best I could.”

• And today, a senior banker at RBS Guardian compared a brick being thrown through the window of the home of the bank’s disgraced CEO, Sir Fred Goodwin, with a pogrom in Nazi Germany. “Sir Angus Grossart said that the attacks on his ‘good friend’ bore ‘shades of Kristallnacht."