Monday, 11 January 2010

The poet, the murderer and the Global Financial Crisis

The Poet and the Murderer is the story of a forged Emily Dickinson poem and of the man who made it.

The forger, Mark Hofman, was brought up in the Mormon faith, but became disillusioned with what he saw as the hypocrisy of the leaders of his society, and eventually began to forge documents to discredit the whole movement. However, he may not have taken this direction if not for an interest in electroplating when he was fourteen. He changed the mint mark on a historic Mormon coin using electroplating and discovered no-one could tell it was a forgery.

On page 77 the author, Simon Worrall, writes this about the word credit:
The experience also showed Hofman that most people, unless they have strong evidence to the contrary, are extremely trusting. Above all, it taught him how thin is the membrane separating the real from the fraudulent. Value, he instinctively understood, is not absolute, but relative. Ultimately it depends on an agreed set of assumptions. Credit, it is worth noting, derives from the Latin word credere, to believe.
It seems to me that the recent global financial crisis also showed how thin is the membrane between belief and disbelief. As long as we all believed debts would be paid and that credit would be endlessly available, the world economy worked. As soon as we no longer believed in each other, the credibility of that system was lost.

What an important word that is: credit.


Papillon Bleu said...

And the experts in electroplating became even more meticulous and careful because the bankers learnt their lesson well...

parlance said...

Papillon Bleu, that's interesting. I guess it's like every move forward in technology. Someone clever thinks of a way to exploit it, illegally, and then the other side has to come up with protective measures.

theregatha said...

I am facinated by how we trust many things that are based on a virtual reality. I wonder what makes us so open to giving credit.

parlance said...

theregatha, I was thinking of something along those lines as I drove along today. I was thinking how we trust that when we round a corner we won't come face to face with another car driving on our side of the road. We gamble our lives on the trustworthiness of other drivers.