Who's the Bigger Train Wreck: O.J. or Wall Street?

Published on: 12:11PM Sep 17, 2008
Tanner Ehmke

There’s been a lot of news lately coming from Wall Street, and the latest developments have me stumped. Are all these changes good news or bad news?

If you happened to miss the biggest news on Wall Street in the past half century, here’s a quick recap: Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch vanished, and the world's biggest insurance company American International Group (AIG) was teetering like was doing a roadside sobriety test (until the government showed up with a bailout and some strong coffee last night).

The stock market, meanwhile, is plunging and taking commodity prices with it as investors unwind trades and scamper for the door to look for cover.

Opinions of all these new economic developments basically fall into two camps: 1) The sky is falling! or 2) Dang it, it’s about time things got cleaned up on Wall Street!

To help put things into perspective, I figured comparing Wall Street to another popular item in the news will help make sense of what’s going on.

But which news item could possibly rival the titanic restructuring of Wall Street and the shaking of the entire U.S. and world economies? Who could even compare to the pain and suffering being exacted on millions of investors around the world?

Look no further than O.J. Simpson. The Juice is back on trial this week - this time for armed robbery. He broke into a Las Vegas Hotel last year with some friends (carrying guns) to take back some memorabilia that used to be his.

But what does O.J. have in common with Wall Street?

Plenty, really, when you think about. It’s almost eerie.

  • Reckless regard for risk: O.J. got greedy and decided to take what was rightfully his, and Wall Street got greedy and loaned money out to people who couldn’t afford it.
  • Claiming ignorance: O.J. claims he didn’t know his goons had guns, and banks are claiming they just didn’t have the right risk models. 
  • Sense of entitlement: O.J. decided to break the law for his own gain (not to mention he still owes the State of California $1.4 million in back taxes) while banks are expecting government bailouts now after arguing for less government regulation to allow the market to function properly.
  • Neither ever thought that they could lose everything in the thrill of the moment.
  • And finally, you can bet that someone tried to talk some sense into them - or at the least maybe raised a question about the sensibility of their actions - but was ignored or ostracized.

So who’s the bigger train wreck? O.J. or Wall Street?

I have to put my money on O.J. Wall Street's made it through worse, and eventually everything gets worked out in the long run. O.J? Who knows what that guy will do next.