I will explain to you a financial crime that is occurring on Wall Street. It will not be difficult to understand. In fact, the crime’s simplicity will probably amaze you.
From three years of experience explaining this crime to many people, however, I know that there are two hurdles people face in understanding it. The first seems big but is, in fact, easy to surmount. The second is small, but is the one that trips people up. I have an easy way to get you over both hurdles, but to do so, I will ask you, esteemed reader, to make two promises to me. If you keep these promises you will overcome both hurdles.
Hurdle #1: Because it is a financial crime, people who are not too conversant with financial issues may shrink from technical-sounding jargon. The way over that hurdle is this:
1) I will start by giving a super-simplified explanation that any high school kid could follow. It will be accurate, but only metaphorically accurate.
2) Then I will give an explanation that is literally accurate, but is still somewhat simplified, and uses just a little jargon.
3) Next I will give an explanation that is literally accurate, and includes technical jargon.
4) Last, I will provide links to numerous articles, news reports, interviews, and explanations that have appeared in academic papers and the financial media, for those who want to bury themselves in the technical details.
In sum, I will start with simplified explanation, then move through the explanation again and again, getting more accurate with each pass, but also, more technical.
Promise #1: Please make the first promise to yourself that you will not plough through this material until it defeats you. Instead, start by reading the first, metaphorical explanation and, if you understand to your own satisfaction, stop. If you are not sure you understand or remain unconvinced, read through the second, literal-but-simple explanation. If you get it then, stop. If you still are not sure you get it or remain unconvinced, read on through the fuller literal explanation, etc. etc. That is, promise that you will not wade through this material until it leaves you defeated and unconvinced. Instead, just read as far as you need to before you feel you get it, then feel free to bail out.
Hurdle #2: I have discovered that, given the right explanation, anyone can understand this crime. The second hurdle, however, is that when people start to understand it, their minds react as follows: “No way. No way. There’s no way that could be happening in our country. No way.”
Promise #2: Please make a second promise to yourself. That is, when you reach the point where your mind is reacting this way, you’ll go back and read Promise #1.