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Thursday, July 14, 2011

MMM Stories: The (St. Charles Place) Bailout

by Max Power (bio)

Modern Mormon Manly Stories is a collection of some of my favorite stories. I like telling stories, and since all of these stories include at least one man, typically a Mormon one, and occur in the present (making them modern, by definition), I thought I'd share them here. All of these stories are true. (And by "true," I mean they are mainly accurate, with adjustments solely for purposes of improving the flow of the stories. For example, if I am telling a story about being chased by a cat, but that is just not flowing well, I may slightly adjust the facts so I am being chased by a brown bear. So, basically all true.) Most of these stories have been told (by me) before. So, stop me if you've already heard this one.

As a Wall Street lawyer, I am often asked by friends, family members and barbers to explain the bailout. Much like Jesus, I find the best way to teach complex subjects is by allegory. Here's my bailout allegory. (Feel free to identify all the ingenius symbols in the comments.)

A couple of years ago, my brother, David, was in town for the weekend, and Sunday night found my wife May Jones, David, my daughter AIG (fake name) and me in a heated game of Monopoly.

I seriously hate Monopoly (can you tell I lost?) The entire game revolves around lucky dice rolling the first few times around the board. That night, I honestly only ONCE landed on a piece of property that was available for sale. It was Marvin Gardens, one of my personal favorites. While we are on the topic, has anyone else realized how lame the pink and red property series are? They have far lower rent than their orange and yellow respective counterparts, and yet you pay the same price for houses and hotels! And another thing, why on earth does mortgaging your property mean you can no longer collect rent on it or have houses? If the real world had similar rules, the entire real estate industry would grind to a halt. Anyway, back to the game...

So, I was having a horrible game. I parlayed Marvin Gardens into Park Place, which I then traded to AIG for New York Ave. I then traded NY for the three light blues (worthless) and then bought back all three oranges. Broke and with all my property mortgaged (thereby yielding no rent for some absurd reason), I crippled along.

AIG counts money very well, but has a hard time in the nasty Monopoly world of negotiations, trading, and... finding ways to pay rent when you are insolvent. May is basically a slum-lord. She always wins, first of all. Second, she takes no prisoners when it comes to rent. She will honestly bankrupt you for four dollars that you come up short after selling all your houses and property. Throw in Irish immigrants and Tammany Hall, and May is a regular "Boss" Tweed.

Well, long story, short, AIG landed on May's St. Charles Place with a hotel ($900). (Aside: I once stayed in a hotel room that was $900 a night, the W in Times Square. It had a bathroom with completely transparent glass walls. It was totally worth it!) I helped AIG liquidate her houses and mortgage her property, but she still came up about $150 short. May wouldn't budge. She had half of all the money in print and more than half of all the property on the board, each with a hotel (I keep telling her you can't put hotels on Rail Roads --she is such a slum-lord.) So, we had to structure a fire sale with David to dump AIG's two utilities, Water Works and Electric Company, which she is VERY fond of. David took the two mortgaged properties off her hands for $150 to bring AIG solvent again and still in the game.

All this took place very quickly with loud talking and properties tossed back and forth, along with a pile of cash funneled into May "Boss" Tweed's coffers. AIG looked a bit shaken, and after it was all done, we heard her start to cry. It was all May's fault. We tried to tell her it was alright -- all she had to do was land on Free Parking and things would work themselves out. She turned to David and said, "you took my property" (referring to the Utilities that were part of the fire sale.) David tried to explain that he bought them in an effort to help her pay her debt to May. Then AIG said, "well, then at least give me my $150!" (through tears.) She didn't grasp the concept that the $150 was owed to May, so it never really came to her.

Finally, in a show a fatherly love, I tossed David $150 and gave AIG's Utilities back to her. It was a lot like that seminary movie on the Atonement. Justice had to be served, and an intermediary was necessary... Eventually, I worked out a deal with David and May to each pitch in $50 to offset my bailout of AIG. I also ended up losing first.

Later that night, as May was tucking her in, AIG was gloating about how well she played, coming in second place to May.
Man, I hate bailouts...

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