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Jewish World Review August 1, 2002 / 23 Menachem-Av, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

Another icon | Another American icon has landed on its keister. The banks are accused of being in on the Enron swindle. They made it possible for the company to fix their books so that loans could be listed as profits and profits could be listed as loans.

I didn't understand it when, by luck, I went into my bank and asked for a loan of $4,000 to help me buy a used Honda.

The banker replied, "We don't make loans. We arrange for people to use the money we give them so nobody can make heads or tails of it."

"I don't care what you call it as long as I get my loan," I replied.

"Now the first thing you must do is create a dummy corporation in the Cayman Islands."

"What for?"

"So people will think your Honda is there, when in fact it will be in your garage. Now you list your car in the books as an asset."

"That makes sense. I'll call the company Bad Apple."

"Then you borrow $4,000 from the bank across the street."

"I get it. I use that loan to pay you back, you clear your books, and I owe the bank across the street instead."

"Because you paid us back so quickly your credit rating will soar. You can then go to another bank across town and borrow $10,000. You pay off the $4,000 of the previous loan and still have $6,000 left for gas and oil."

"How much can I borrow now?"

"The banks will come to you, and since you're an offshore company, they will tailor a loan for you of $100,000."

"But I only want $4,000 for my Honda."

"You have to think big. Do you know what you can do with $100,000?"

"I could buy a Mercedes Benz."

"That would make sense, particularly since you must now move your money from the Cayman Islands to Bermuda to confuse the IRS."

"Can I quit while I'm ahead?"

"Not really," he said. "You have now reached the point where the banks are more worried about you than you are about them. They will wine and dine you and send your wife flowers."

"My wife would like that because she is against my buying a used Honda."

"The bankers are eager to throw money at you. You can buy futures in soy beans and pork bellies, sell natural gas that you don't own, and make Bad Apple one of the largest dummy corporations in the business."

"But at some time they are going to call in all my loans and I could lose my Honda."

"Not if you declare bankruptcy."

"Isn't that tacky?"

"No. Everybody's doing it."

"What do I do now?"

"Just sign this agreement. If you don't make your payment in 30 days, then we will take back the Honda."

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07/30/02: Draft all the lawyers
07/25/02: House for rent
07/23/02: Doin' time
07/19/02: The loophole game
07/16/02: Money as a game
07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

© 2002, TMS