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A French Letter

Over the weekend, I received this strange letter in French.  Now my French is not very good, so I have done my best to translate it, but I apologise if it does not read very well.  Even though I am sure it is rubbish, I am reprinting it here, as you never know.

Mon cher amis

As you know, I have good manners, but my blood does boileth over.  I am very mad that I have been accused by many of the things I have not done and I cannot just take this blame. 

I mean that I do not appreciate our chairman’s statements that I acted alone.  This is so wrong.  How can he say I was alone when I had help?  My boss and the head of equities division often asked me about my activities and I told them.  “Look”, I said.  “This is my brilliant trading strategy.  I bet on the market going up all the time”.  I just forgot to tell them that, like other banks, I do not bother to hedge this bet.  After all, it is a trade for the future and, as we all know, the market goes up in the future.

So, in the spirit of Émile Zola – as I was raised with good education and manners – j’accuse back.   After all, I cannot take all this twittering gossip without some retort mes amis.

You see, my real entente cordiale was to actually make the bank billions, not lose them billions.  By creating these accounts for my clients, I could trade on the stock market index going up.  Of course, the CAC and DAX would go up.  So I was very surprised when they went down. 

Now, I know that most of my colleagues talk about hedge and arbitrage – where they lay off their risk with options for if the market goes down instead of up – but I did not need those.  They cost a lot of money and are a waste of time.   

It is like insurance for your house. You only need it if your house is demolished by a meteorite or if Monsieur Pascal, who drinks too much vino and smokes 60 Gitanes a day, sets fire to your house.  And how likely is that?

Oui, je sais that he burnt his own house down, but it was not our house, was it?  So it is very unlikely, just as it is unlikely that the CAC would go down.  So I thought the same would be true in the bank.

So I was quite upset when the head of Delta One asked me what I was doing on my contracts with Carefour and Reenault.   I admitted on those two I made a mistake.  They should have been Carrefour and Renault … so my spelling is tres mal.  I am a mathematics wizard though, not some language student.  Hence, the poor translation of my words here.

But they could trust me as my desk was working well.  It had a lot of customers, what with AXE Group, the great insurance conglomerate, being my major fund investor.  Yes, I know some said it should be AXA, but I already explained that one.

Then they tell me about this margin call.

What is this margin call and how come they blame me?  I mean I know my numbers started to look bad, but what is so wrong with a margin call? Oui, oui, this only happens when a bank has a position that cannot be covered, but this cannot be the case with the beautiful Societe Generale can it, as this is one of France’s largest banks with whom I am in love.

I mean, when they gave me this computer to try out, I know they were only seeing how good or bad I was.  And the computer game was a wizard one, called Delta One.  It is a bit like Halo but more fun, with lots of numbers, and I had a character called Plain Vanilla, who lived in the future.

Ah, Plain Vanilla – or PV as I called her – was so good.  Normally she targeted the positive, which is why she bet on things going up.  After all, she would not like anything going down on her.

So I played the game and lost?  C’est ca.  Le jeux sans frontiers est finit.

I mean I thought it was only numbers on the computer.  No-one ever told me this was real money being played in the real world.

I thought it was like the Second Life, non?   I never thought that what happened to the banks there would happen in real life … apart from le Northern Rock, eh?   So how come they never told me it was not like Linden Dollars … it all looked the same to me.   That is why I say it is the fault of the management, and particularly the head of equities and the head of IT.  They should have told me this was for real!

Mon dieu, toute la monde est mon enemies.

I am so sorry mes amis for your having to learn how I played this game and lost.  This game that I thought was just a computer game.

The good news though is that I have a fan club on Facebook now.  Look, there is a group there that wants to get me the Nobel Prize in Economics. And with my popularity, I will find a new job.  After all, I had many banks looking to hire me in both Paris and London before the bâtards found me out.  Even then, it is very annoying that these English pig dogs have given out my CV to the media, so it is now published and everyone can see my private details. 

I am especiallement annoyed about this, as I did not want people to know that I did Judo.  I mean I am thinking that my cellmate, Obelisk, may now try to beat me up in this bastille dungeon where they are keeping me.  Mind you, he may not, as he seems to have quite nice hair and his fingernails are very well-kept.

And what about these other English cochon, the Daily Mash, who take the Michel.  I mean, they say my error was caused by the “unbearable levels of stress brought on by a punishing 30 hour week”. They should know that, unlike mes amis dans l’office, I always travailled for at least 37 hours a week.   And I would never blame this on my hours as I enjoyed them, playing this Delta One game with my character, Plain Vanilla.  Mind you, at least they admit that people knew I was a workaholic.

I am getting very angry with these merdes though.  I mean who controls the internet?  They even allowed someone to set up a website called "Rogue French Banker".  Zut alors, it should not be allowed!

Ah well, I have to be calm and you may be interested in the fact that I saw on Bloomberg that Societe Generale have a position available for a trader on the Delta One desk.  You may want to apply?

Now I am off to the library where they have a great new game for me to play called L’economie francais.   Not sure how it works, but let President Sarkozy know that I shall be his saviour.

Meanwhile, if you want to know my latest news, you can find it at Wikio,

Je t’embrasse très fort …

Personally, I think it came from some French joker, but you never know. 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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