Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Roger Lowenstein on Corzine and MF Global

It's fascinating to me how good Roger Lowenstein is at finding the right cord in financial stories, and tugging on it.

I like his take on the bankruptcy this week of MF Global. Jon Corzine should have known better. He is an ex-Goldman CEO, ex-New Jersey governor, ex-U.S. senator, and had been in charge at MF Global for more than a year.

In Lowenstein's words, Corzine apparently failed to learn from prior disasters at LTCM and Lehman. "Corzine had a ringside seat, and the message didn’t stick," Lowenstein writes, so how hopeful can we be for learning by humanity generally? Granted, the facts are still coming out.

Lowenstein's books on LTCM and Buffett are very worthwhile, too. His late father, Lou, was a securities law professor at Columbia. Back in the 1990s when I co-wrote, with the late Larry Soderquist, an article on laws and regulations pertaining to initial public offerings (abstract here), I discovered that Roger's father was one of the few people who had written something in that area that was actually useful and deep. So, like Hank Williams Jr. following Hank Williams Sr., Roger comes from a "family tradition" of thinking deeply, well, and morally about business and life. And like his pa, Roger can really write.