How many funny, engaging stories can someone tell in their first 10 minutes of getting on stage? Well Ben Stein surely approached the limit. Ben Stein has done many things on tv and off, been a lawyer, is a well established economist, writer, and columnist.
However for the MS BI Conference crowd of several hundred, his clarity on the financial crisis drew feelings of frustration over the financial community and government mismanagement. He referred to how the financial community could have used a little Business Intelligence -- and could definitely use some now. His clear chronological overview of how the financial community got into this mess (and brought us along with them) was responded to with claps and a few hoots of support.
Briefly Ben lays out the crisis with this:
- "It started with the liberals wanting equal housing opportunities for every American."
- "Greenspan pushed interest rates down and then banks couldn't make much money from normal mortgages, so they had to be creative."
- "Banks came up with Side Bets. Basically banks bet on whether or not mortgage bonds would be paid or failed to be paid." -- Yes banks bet on whether you will pay off your mortgage.
- "When house prices fell, costs of price swaps (the side bets) went up. This created such a huge loss that it dwarfed the financial impact from defaulted loans."
- "Side bets are the Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction allowed by the Bush administration."
Ben Stein also had good things to say but it was clear he was there for his entertainment and inspirational value... a BI tech talk he was not about to do. If you haven't seen him, then he is just like he is on his tv shows, like "Win Ben Stein's Money" and "America's Most Smartest Model".
[Other MS BI Conference posts: ETL World Record and 150 TB Fact Tables and
BI in the year 2020]