Beware The Jane Syndrome
E*Trade and Wachovia are the latest casualties of the subprime debacle—the bundling of bad mortgage obligations and selling them off as individual investment “opportunities” to greedy, senseless suckers.
It’s the biggest bust since the Dot-Com Implosion of 2000, where $4 trillion worth of capital evaporated, and harks back to “Tulip Mania” (1636-37) and the South Sea Bubble (1711).
How can this utter stupidity be explained?
Let’s start with the rarified game of curling and a woman named Jane, whose last name I have mercifully forgotten.
What is going on in business is what I call “The Jane Syndrome.”
You’ll also find The Jane Syndrome in sports, investing, politics, government, fishing, religion, immigration and every other facet of the crazy world in which we live.
The Game of Curling
Curling is shuffleboard on ice played with 42-pound hunks of granite that players try to slide to a target 142-feet away and opponents try to knock out. The game originated in Scotland, where it was played for centuries on frozen ponds and lakes. The first in-print references to curling are found in the 17th century.
In a wing of the posh Darien (Conn.) Country Club was a charming little facility that was home to the Nutmeg Curling Club—enough ice for three games to be played side-by-side. Behind a big glass window was the “warm room”—a bar where smokers happily hastened their demise and drinkers could ward off the cold and colds by getting blotto.
Like any sport, curling is governed by written rules of play and many unwritten rules of etiquette that are passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.
In the World Curling Federation’s “Rules of Play and Competition” is this key entry:
15.1 Should any situation occur which is not covered by the rules, the decision will be made by the umpire in accordance with fairness.