I am a commercial real estate lender and that means that I am trained to assess and price risk. I do not get them all right, but I get enough right that I have been successful over the years. But I am trained to deal with certain types of risks. For example, K-Mart has announced that they are walking away from 335 major retail leases across the country, a significant potential loss for the properties and developers involved, but the commercial real estate industry is prepared to deal with this type of event.
The problem is that we have no training in how to assess and price the risk of terrorist acts. I can assess and price the risk of a K-Mart bankruptcy, or I can buy insurance against the risk of a building burning down. But if I cannot assess the risk, and borrowers are unable obtain insurance, I will not do the deal, particularly when various government officials continue to state that the chance of another terrorist attack is 100%.
That was a mortgage banker, one Kieran Quinn -- current Chairman of the Mortgage Banking Association -- in 2002, testifying calmly secure in his craft, his competence. Testifying before a House subcom on the topic: "How Much are Murkins @ Risk Until Congress Passes, heh, Terrorism Insurance Protection?"
Mr. Kieran Quinn was quite sure that his training enabled him to deal with certain types of risks. Things like terrorism, tho, not he, therefore the need for the insurance, l'assicuranza.
Only now we see, from the perspective of Mr. Paulson, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and with a splendid view of a nearly non-finite passel of Fuckin' Mooks that the story is not that. The very people who were trained to assess risk but not terrorist acts are now beginning to develop a certain Osama-ish flair, having -- despite their best efforts to manage the risk (to their own professional stature) -- succeeded in demonstrating that they themselves in fact were the real and present terrorist threat - a far more serious one than the imaginary and real enemies of Mr. Bush - that they confessed to being incompetent to assess.