Monday, April 7, 2014


Over the past few months we've learned of at least eight banker suicides, including the murder-suicide of a former ABN banker, his wife and their daughter last week. Issues tied to stress and depression have been attributed the recent slate of banker suicide-deaths. This, presumably, pushed Bank of America to encourage junior bankers to take some weekends off.

Today, via Zero Hedge, we're learning about yet another banker's death. The Swiss have initiated a man-hunt for the killer of Liechtenstein banker Juergen Frick, CEO of Bank Frick & Co. A tiny Principality (pop. 35,000) - with fabulous castles and sweeping views of hamlets - Liechtenstein lies in the heart of Europe, between Switzerland and Austria.


Based on initial reports the murder-homicide of Frick was carried out by fund manager Juergen Germann in the southern Liechtenstein town of Balzers. According to Germann, he was upset with Frick for his role in "illegally" destroying his investment company which deprived him of his livelihood. Germann also names Liechtenstein's Financial Market Authority as one of the culprits who helped destroy his company.

Juergen Germann filed lawsuits seeking 200 million Swiss francs ($225 million) from the government and 33 million Swiss francs from Frick's bank. One thing's certain, you should be able to buy a few castles with that kind of cash - perhaps even Liechtenstein Castle.

Liechtenstein castle, located in Germany

Anyways, according to Germann's lawsuit Frick's bank "illegally enriched itself" at his expense. Frustrated, after years of feuding, Germann took things into his own hands and apparently shot Frick in the underground garage where Bank Frick & Co. are located.

Given the amount of money at stake, and the shady practices used to grease the wheels of finance around the world, I can't say that any of this is a surprise. In fact, I thought that we would see a number of executive level "financial suicides" after the market collapsed in 2008. Some people were so upset with the financial events caused by Wall Street in 2008 that they encouraged market players to take themselves out, if the hastily made up sign below is any indicator.

Sign on Wall Street immediately after the markets crashed in 2008.

Then the federal government came to Wall Street's rescue and saved America's financial sector. By arranging trillions in bailouts for the financial institutions that used shady business practices to bring the world's economy to its knees the U.S. effectively told the world's bankers to continue business as usual. And they have.

So, what do these banker suicide-homicides mean for overall policy and practice in the financial sector? Probably very little. No, scratch that. It means nothing.

With bankers saved from their own stupidity with generous bailouts, favorable legislation, and slap on the wrist fines we still have a hyper-competitive financial environment where bonuses and promotions are tied to producing results. State subsidized results, to be sure, but results nonetheless. This is why Bank of America's "suggestion" that some junior bankers should take some weekends off will have no impact.

So, yeah, the pillaging - and the pressure to pillage - will continue. What this means for suicide-deaths within the world's financial sector is any one's bet. I know which way I'd bet, especially when the next financial collapse hits.

- Mark

No comments: