Friday, December 28, 2007

And the Winner Is...

You and I, dear readers, live life on a calendar year basis and not some weird-ass corporate fiscal year. So the time has come to name this blog's Oxymoron of the Year for 2007. No, I didn’t do this last year.

Had 2007 been a normal year in Proxyland (although normal here looks like the “n” in snafu), our winner would have been Proxy Access, a provocative idea that suffered a premature demise at the capable hands of SEC Chairman Cox. But this is no ordinary time, it seems. Whether you call it the credit calamity, subprime stew or mortgage mishegass, we’re looking at one hell of an ugly broken nail on the invisible hand that's supposed to control the free market. And no manicurist in sight.

This is serious stuff, so I'm going to declare a tie between Risk Management (discussed here) and Financial Engineering.

Take your pick, though the latter sounds more jolly, evoking a video game in which you send bits of risk zinging around the globe and wait for them to explode. And in the meantime you take your own credit-linked stash and, as some wag says in that cute poem you've probably seen, “mark to myth.”

Whichever oxymoron best captures the wisdom of the Wall Street sages who've made fortunes in structured finance, the moral is clear: Karma may not be a boomerang, but risk sure is.

A happy and prosperous New Year to all, come what may.

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