Michael Osinski, software, and the financial crisis

1 04 2009

This is a must read for anyone interested in the current crisis.  I have read about Michael Osinski in other articles, namely Michael Lewis’ piece in New York Magazine.  He is the guy who wrote most of the software that divvied up all the toxic assets into bonds and helped securitize them.  To me he was always one of the silent villians lurking behind the crisis, easy to sum  up and no desire to understand.  He fucked up, profited from it and leftuss all to pay for it.  It turns out, as it usually does with this kind of thing, he is a much more thoughtful multi-dimensional character.  The only one who, as far as I know, has apologized for his role in the crisis.

And, if you read the piece, you quickly learn that it wasn’t his software but the people who used it that screwed up so royally.  He is deeply honest about his culpability and his drive to make money without thinking of the consequences.  But he was small-fry.  So I personally take him off the hook.  Also, beyond writing about his role in the mess, he also has a fascinating take on Wall Street.  Very revealing about human nature and excess.  Here may be my favorite quote:

We had to lay off half of research. After a day of bloodletting, one of the bosses cornered me in the hallway. Did I get a sexual thrill out of firing people, he wanted to know, because it had always worked for him, big time.

For somebody who is a fairly recent transplant to NYC and has had the privilege to witness a lot of the behavior described, that quote sums up this fair city for me.  He is now an oyster farmer in Long Island, long retired, and a pretty decent guy.  Far more decent than all the assholes he worked for.

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One response

2 04 2009
matt

This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

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