Bernie Madoff may or may not be news in your household, but he may go down in history as one of finances biggest scumbags - in a year of monumental scumbags.
He is responsible for perhaps the largest Ponzi scheme ever committed. That's not newsworthy. What is notable, is that we all now know what a "Ponzi scheme" is...
A Ponzi scheme is anytime a supposed investment pays earlier investors with newer investors money. Ultimately, there is no profit being made by the scheme. The scheme is inherently unstable and guaranteed to fail. The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi who perpetrated the first notable one in 1920. To me, it is a perfect example of the greed that seems to have taken over wall street and big business. How may billions do you need? Wouldn't a single billion suffice? For good 'ole Bernie, it seems that $50B wasn't quite enough.
So, as authorities dig into this some more, the victims are lining up. One has committed suicide after learning of $1.5B in losses. My beloved Mets are involved, as the owner (Fred Wilpon) may have had as much as $300M invested. Countless others will surface.
As I type this, the inauguration is on television. I am feeling an overwhelming sense of pride that this country has elected a black man as president. My cynical side didn't believe it could happen. I feel the hope and the energy that his presidency is causing. I think his politics are crap, but it is about hope right now.
And frankly, with bailouts surrounding us, necessitated by unbridled greed and general "scumbaggery", a little hope is a good thing right now.
Just watch out for the individuals pictured above...they'll both suck you dry.