Wednesday, October 1, 2008 1 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

London Going Down...Don't Give Up Your Life Over Soured Investments

The Globe & Mail has an article discussing how the extravagance in London due to the once-booming financial industry is coming to an end. The financial district is struggling and will likely go into a big slump. It will be no different than prior booms. I suspect many high-paid workers will be unable to find jobs, and the industry will downsize. That's what happened in the technology sector after the dot-com bust.

Anyway, the thing I wanted to highlight is not the obvious decline in the industry, but the fact that some people are committing suicide over the credit crisis.

The guy spraying Cristal on the curtains has been replaced this week, in the water-cooler talk along the Thames, with the rather different tale of Kirk Stephenson, the 47-year-old chief operating officer of one of the City's most successful private equity investment firms, Olivant.

On Saturday morning, Mr. Stephenson threw himself in front of a train near his country manor, leaving a wife and child behind. Colleagues said he had lost a fortune. That occurred only days after another investor killed his wife and children and burned down his highly leveraged country estate, hours before bailiffs were to repossess it.

I'm sure that most readers of this blog--perhaps nearly all--simply invest on their own, in order to maximize returns. Although we will suffer from any losses--real impairment, not to be confused with quotational losses--and I'm not downplaying any of it, but there are others who work in the industry, whose job is to manage money. These workers have high responsibility and I can see them giving up on life when things blow up. This message is written in case someone like those in the quote above is reading this. All I can say is that before you do something stupid with your life, always remember two things.

One: one of your choices in life is to walk away. It's a loser's solution but it is always available. Instead of killing yourself--not only do you lose your life but you might leave a huge burden on your kids and wife/husband--you can just walk away. It's always just a job. You might lose some reputation but life and your family is far more important.

Secondly, anyone that is an investor surely knows that there is risk involved. Even if you were running a reputable private equity shop, those investing in your fund know the risks. Otherwise, if they wanted no risk, they would be investing in US Treasuries, or gold, or whatever is considered safe. These people profit when things are doing well. So if things turn out badly, that's their problem. It's no different than if I invested in a share of a company and it goes bankrupt. Well, it's my problem and I know the risks. Anyone that claims otherwise is either naive (in which case, they probably deserve to learn a lesson before they bet all their money) or in denial. I'm not excusing shoddy performance but if your investments or business decidions turn sour, don't take your life. The world will actually be better off with you alive.


1 Response to London Going Down...Don't Give Up Your Life Over Soured Investments

October 2, 2008 at 12:25 AM

It is possible that the suicides are the result of clinical depression, in which case, family members should be on the look out and encourage their loved ones to seek psychiatric help, as opposed to "toughening" it out or escaping facing the reality.

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