May you live in interesting times. Whoever coined the apocryphal saying, usually attributed incorrectly to China, clearly wasn’t a banking regulator. History shows that economies tend to be more stable and crisis-resistant when the world of finance is kept intentionally dull. The crisis that has spread from US regional lenders to Credit Suisse Group AG and even sent tremors through Deutsche Bank AG is a sign of how far the world is from that nirvana of tedium. We are living in very interesting times indeed.
The Credit Suisse saga offers the best illustration, an extended soap opera that has featured a cocktail party bust-up between one CEO and another top executive, a spying scandal, and multi-billion-dollar entanglements with billionaire Bill Hwang’s collapsed investment firm and disgraced financier Lex Greensill. More exotic episodes include helping a Bulgarian wrestler to launder cocaine cash and involvement in a Mozambique fundraising for tuna fishing boats from which hundreds of millions were looted. The Zurich-based bank’s post-2008 history has been relentlessly interesting, in the most curse-laden sense of the word.