NEW YORK (Reuters) - A French executive who invested with accused swindler Bernard Madoff was found dead in an apparent suicide on Tuesday, reportedly distraught over losing up to $1.4 billion (950 million pounds) in client money.It is unlikely that Thierry de la Villehuchet is the first person to end his life as a result of Madoff's massive theft of funds. After all, suicide rarely makes the front page news. In trying to understand Monsieur Villehuchet's final act you can be sure some specialist will cite a prior mental weakness or some other failure in the man's life. The fact is, we probably will never know what his last thoughts consisted of, he apparently left no final words behind.
In the meantime Mr. Madoff walks around New York relatively freely. Like the rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist, Dr. A. Q. Khan, Bernard Madoff faces only house arrest at the present time. Madoff simply must be home by 9PM in the evening.
Some crimes are more monstrous than others, our society usually recognizes this. In this country we also believe that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a jury of their peers. However Mr. Madoff has already admitted his crime to his brothers. Despite the confusing paper trail, most reasonable people can assume that most of the money invested in Mr. Madoff's fund is truly gone.
By some measures 70% of the world's wealth has vanished in the past year.
What then are the rest of us left with?
We have a trade system based primarily on trust but major institutions no longer trust anyone. Our impotent government leaders seem to have decided that printing more worthless money is an acceptable solution. That and offering zero percent interest rates. Wow.
The only short-term response our grossly overpaid executives can come up with is sending their employees home without pay. To add misery to the punch many of these workers know there will be no jobs to return to in the new year. What a wonderful holiday season that makes.
We have a leader from a badly defeated party apparently doing everything possible to make his successor more likely to fail. In his almost non-existent response to the eminent collapse of many U.S. businesses, Mr. Bush is behaving like a snickering schoolyard bully.
Two very populous nations in South Asia, India and Pakistan, look increasingly ready to engage in another major war, possibly with nuclear weapons this time. Oh, great.
A band of pirates from a crumbling Third World cesspool has nearly shut down a major shipping channel.
This trend seems destined to worsen. It seems as if civilisation is pitching itself over a cliff, soon to follow Monsieur Villihuchet into the final abyss of no return.
It the words of a young person I know, that really sucks.
Speaking of young people, what are we leaving for them to inherit? Financial disaster, mass unemployment, a nuclear war, and seas ruled by pirates. All we need now is a plague, pestilence, or perhaps a meteorite slamming into earth.
Life has become a real, live major disaster movie of the genre Irwin Allen made popular. Both frightening to consider and maybe a little fascinating to watch, if the disaster wasn't happening to us personally. Which, unfortunately, it is.
Oh, well, at least there is sure to be something interesting to write about tomorrow, heh?
Adieu, Monsieur Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet. Dormez en paix.
Washington Post article
Le Monde article