Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Banking Metaphor from Classical Mythology

Having read the title, you're thinking "He's going to tackle the thorny issue of modern banking by using a now outdated Greek mythological fable? Which one shall he use? Perhaps he shall compare modern banking's boom-bust periods to the seasonal whims of Persephone, wife of Hades! Perhaps he will use the boatman, Charon, who requires gold coins for passage across the rivers of the Underworld, as a simplistic analogy for the important but deplorable nature of mercenary banking! Perhaps he will describe their nature of allowing you to easily get into debt but making it hard to escape to that of Cerberus, three-headed hound who prevents escape from across the river Styx, making the point that it is a truly Herculean task to escape from the misery of debt, Hercules having defeated the dog as one of his labours! I wonder which of these three fine examples he will choose!" to yourself, possibly mumbling to yourself at the same time, and reminding yourself that you need to school yourself in the world of classics.

Well, you have provided three magnificent ideas, but since you largely thought them alone, I decided to go with Prometheus. You, of course, already know the story, Prometheus the Titan steals fire from the gods and gives it to the mortals, sentenced to be chained to a rock and have his liver pecked out by an eagle, liver grows back overnight, so on and so forth.

"Oh," you mutter "Prometheus. Okay. I guess so."

See, you can pretty clearly draw an analogy from this to modern banking, where you, Prometheus (Or the "Consumer of banking services") have stolen the fire (Or "Good interest rates or a high-rate instant access account") from the gods (Or "Banks"). They then sentence you to a cruel and unusual punishment, such as having your liver pulled out by an eagle everyday, if you dare stray into overdraft. The liver then becomes your finances through the magic of metaphors, whilst the eagle becomes the greedy collector. Each night, you grow a new liver, or each month you get another paycheck, but then the greedy eagle comes and pecks it away from you. And so the cycle repeats indefinitely, in perpetuity.

On reflection I think I liked your ideas more. Well done. You clearly know more about analogous Greek mythology than I do. I shan't question your authority on the matter again.

Now, I should stress, I am not an economist. I went to London and purchased a three-stringed violin with a broken bow from a car boot sale, so it is pretty clear I am to financial astuteness what rickets is to international athletics. But debt seems like a pretty bad idea. I offset the minimal cost of a broken violin by travelling by coach, in which karma decided "John, you helped an old woman put her things on the trailer. You deserve a double seat!" so I'm only mildly exhausted. Besides, at least I bought a broken violin rather than a watch I saw at Harrods (I went there to take in the shocking opulence and exorbitant prices. I'm pretty certain they nearly didn't let me in because my shoes weren't carved from solid ingots of gold) which was a pretty pricey £459,000. I can't actually think of anything that watch could do which would justify except stop time itself, like Bernard's Watch. £459,000. I'm still...£459,000. For a WATCH. That's more than a pretty decent Atomic Clock. That's more than a pretty decent house! Although, I saw a house for rent in SW1. A mere £16,000 a week. It came with 2 staff rooms. I'm genuinely struggling to envisage a scenario where anyone has enough money to buy a £459,000 watch and take it to their £832,000/annum house. But what if you want to buy rather than rent? There was a nice little place for £5.25 million. And instead of mere ROOMS for the staff, it has a whole annex. I have not the words. Just...I have to go lie down.

1 comment:

  1. Under the laughter and smile, I'm wondering whether the use of the word "opulence" in the last paragraph was an understatement.

    On a side note, I've always thought the ancient Greeks were a bit wacky, but they had a great knack for coming up some interestingly analogous mythology.