The Fourteenth Banker Blog

February 1, 2011


Filed under: Running Commentary — thefourteenthbanker @ 7:09 PM

Today is February 1st and I am faced with a conundrum. It is time to transition to a new role. I started this blog last Spring when we were in the thick of debate on Financial Reform.  I had two intents. One was to make a difference in the debate by adding an insider’s perspective on the industry and many of its pronouncements. My second intent was to just do something every week to move towards my goal of personal integrity in my life. My employer was stealing my integrity every day in the way I and others were required to respond to the pressures coming from the most senior management. Of course, they would deny this and say that intermediary managers “misinterpreted” what their intent was. At various times, I would register my objections and be faced with looks of incomprehension. Why would a successful manager sabotage a career by objecting to our commonly accepted practices, particularly those that were making us look good on the internal metrics and making us such big bonuses?  What craziness!

So I kept reading and kept writing. There is a whole world of information out there regarding what is wrong with our system. Every day I could read for hours and post for hours if I did not have a job and a life to lead. What a fantastic experience though. What a privilege to discover so many people whose eyes and minds are open to alternative perspectives, who are able to shed the propaganda. The official narrative continuously drones from the seats of power like the barely perceptible hum of machinery, the background music in a movie, or the soft chords as a preacher winds up his sermon.  Except the official narrative never ends.

How proud I am of Simon Johnson and James Kwak, Bill Black and Michael Hudson, Yves Smith, Tyler Durden et al, Barry Ritholz, George Washington, Edward Harrison, George Mobus, David Stockman, and a hundred others whose posts have graced these pages. Keep fighting the good fight.

To all my readers and commenters, thank you so much. You have added wisdom and reality to this conversation. Thank you Jerry, Tippy, Sandi, Lucy, Eric, Lawrence, Ella and the many others who have stopped to add to the conversation.

There is a downside to being anonymous. There is really nowhere to go with it. I have thought about writing a book or going on television, and have been invited many times, but to do so would be to bring longer term problems for a short term splash. I have withheld the most damning details of corruption that would reveal my identity, and in doing so have done my employer a favor. So I guess I have to say Bradley Manning is a bigger figure than I. But he is in solitary.

A funny thing has happened on this journey. While I have been clear with my truth in this anonymous blog, I have become clearer with my truth in the rest of my life. I have quietly begun to live the life of a reformer. My life is richer as a result.

So while I will leave this blog up, and may return to it if the situation warrants. I am moving on with my life. You may hear of me again in the public square, but it won’t be as the Fourteenth Banker, it will be a real person with a real name. I have decided to leave my big bank to look for honest work. This decision was mostly made of course at the time I started the blog, and was confirmed by what I learned as I wrote. How could I continue to work for an organization that sort of lumbers cluelessly along seeking its own survival by whatever means are convenient with no moral considerations?

I am looking forward to building things. Tearing down has its place. But until we build something new it is mostly just talk. I hope all the readers and all the bloggers and all the professors out there will consider this, we need to harp on the government to create conditions under which new things can be built. We must democratize our economy, we must create conditions that create enterprises that create jobs. We must elevate new kinds of leaders so that the old kinds become irrelevant.

My conundrum is this. Even while I have posted little over the last month, thousands have continued to visit the site. You make me want to keep going, but my best use is not to do so. If I blog again, it must be as me. If I speak, it must be as me. If I act, it must be as me. It will be as me.

Peace to all, no exceptions.




  1. 14,

    Come back every now and then and don’t be a stranger.

    Thanks for great thoughts and the striving to maintain integrity.

    Hope to hear from you one way or another soon!

    Best wishes.


    Comment by Lawrence — February 1, 2011 @ 9:01 PM | Reply

  2. I made the same decision in early 2007, and I applaud your courage. There is LIFE after financial services.

    Comment by Lucy Honeychurch — February 1, 2011 @ 9:36 PM | Reply

  3. I read your blogs faithfully, so PLEASE do come back and let us know under any name. I’m so thankful that there is someone like you that holds integrity in such high regard. Please don’t stay silent for too long. I think what you write and speak are very important and we regard you as a leader. Definitely don’t stop fighting and know that we follow you even on the days you, and the rest of us, tend to feel defeated. We will never quit fighting the good fight. Good luck with your new role in life.

    Thank you for all that you do…

    Best Regards,

    Comment by Ty — February 1, 2011 @ 9:46 PM | Reply

  4. Thank you very much for the work you have done. I’ve been made more capable thanks to your efforts, and hopefully, so have you.

    Comment by mslater — February 1, 2011 @ 9:59 PM | Reply

  5. You’ve done a good thing here, and there were some very thoughtful questions asked. I appreciate the short time you’ve shared with us, and just wish it could go on. You brought a human and personal touch to the discussion that is lacking in so many other blogs.

    Best of luck in your new adventures, and I hope I run across your mind again in the future.

    Comment by Eric W — February 1, 2011 @ 11:57 PM | Reply

  6. 14th, I’ve really enjoyed your posts from the trenches. Your integrity and decency gives me hope and is a positive influence in my life. You are too good for the trolls at your former bank and most likely they are too clued out to know its their loss. Best wishes on your transition into a more satisfying vocation and into public life.

    Comment by tippygolden press — February 2, 2011 @ 1:12 AM | Reply

  7. 14,
    Everything said above, and then some! The moral compass I’ve always tried to steer by is doing what is just. Thank you for reminding me almost daily to be true to that compass, no matter what.
    The next few years are going to be unbelievably eventful, I think, in ways we probably can’t even imagine now. The situation in Egypt and Tunisia may well be the tip of a new ice berg on our horizon, one that may cause a deadly tidal wave, or a new Gulf Stream, but is bound to leave that region, and our relationship to/with it, very much changed.
    You are right – we must democratize our economy – and by extension the global economy, if we can. Somehow we have to make the complacent American worker understand the danger of our situation – that we are becoming irrelevant to much of the corporate world, who have literally moved on. Robert Reich is right – there are now two business structures in the US – or rather, one is still in the US and the other has moved off-shore, and no longer relies on us, the American consumer, for their livelihood; now we can no longer rely on them for ours. Unless we all want to be flipping burgers or changing sheets at the local Ramada Inn, we’d better get ourselves educated, informed and organized. (And by “educated”, I mean on issues).
    So, please do continue to sound the alarm, write, blog, go on TV, whatever you can do, and encourage all to do the same. Best wishes in your endeavors, and thank you for providing this forum.

    Comment by Sandi — February 2, 2011 @ 8:53 AM | Reply

  8. It saddens me to hear this, as I have been applauding your efforts from the sidelines, from nearly the beginning of this blog.
    I wish you well and hope that your decision brings you the satisfaction and fulfillment you’ve so clearly earned. I also hope that, when you reveal yourself, you will speak up about the “most damning details of corruption” in your industry. Perhaps then we will see justice served. It is one of my deepest hopes that we will find the truth of these things and be able to take the necessary steps to correct these global and very human problems.

    Safe travels, my friend.

    Comment by pjwrites — February 2, 2011 @ 9:05 AM | Reply

  9. I visit your blog daily and comment occasionally. All of which has been enlightening. Looking forward to your next writing venture. Thanks

    Comment by ella — February 2, 2011 @ 9:12 AM | Reply

  10. Journey of a thousand mile begins with a single step……Congratulations on taking that step!

    May god bless you and give you the courage to put your amazing intellect and intentions to change the stinking mess called “banking”.

    Comment by Vocal banker — February 3, 2011 @ 12:58 AM | Reply

  11. Really appreciated your public service through this blog, and I hope you will stop back from time to time to continue – In whatever format you are comfortable.

    Comment by Dave Narby — February 4, 2011 @ 1:11 PM | Reply

  12. Well, life will be better if we can just get Yves to stop whining about her book. Did you know that woman lives in Manhattan? Life is good!

    Comment by Naked Greed — February 4, 2011 @ 2:51 PM | Reply

  13. you have no idea how much you have helped me understand what happened to me….
    I spent a few years helping people move to homnes that they couldn’t afford and 12 year ‘throwing up’ as I assisted people leave their home behind as they created a new life for themselves as they moved on with their lives having earned usurious sums by providing mortgages to folks, who kenw not what they were getting themselves into….eventually, I lost my job helping people move because there are so few people left whoc can affard to pay for a mover that business has basically stopped….I am old and my time is up…you allowed me to grasp a greater understanding of what occured….amazingly, my more educated lawyer and doctor froiends have no concept of what has happened becasue their life has not been severely disrupted, although their 401K’s have decreased….they still blame their misfortune on the idiots, who could not afford the house they purchased or the Democrats, who forced the Fannies and Freddies to give money to undeserving folks…banker, you have helped me…I hope you will let us know where we should look for you…I also wish y0ou ‘all the best’ as you find a life of inegrity….living simply and honestly is so much easier than living a life of deception….

    All the best and Happy Trails to you….

    Comment by John — February 5, 2011 @ 1:07 AM | Reply

  14. Thank you, and may you find your honest work. The words “… create conditions under which new things can be built” are music to this designer and researcher’s ears.

    Comment by The Raven — February 5, 2011 @ 2:07 AM | Reply

  15. 14th, may the Haka force be with you and your fellow travelers:

    All Blacks Haka vs British & Irish Lions

    Chalk it up to the French to post this great video! Somehow I think the Maori may have got it right. They must have had an incredibly rich culture and communal life on those beautiful islands. Then Captain Cook sailed through the South Pacific. Savages they said. But who are the primitives? The Maori may have been way ahead of the great white force whose heirs have destroyed the great coral reefs and built a McDonald’s on every street corner.

    Here are words in English of the Haka chant. Very poetic.

    I die, I die
    I live, I live
    I die, I die,
    I live, I live,
    This is the fierce, powerful man
    Who caused the sun to shine again for me
    Up the ladder, Up the ladder
    Up to the top
    The sun shines!

    Comment by tippygolden press — February 7, 2011 @ 9:07 PM | Reply

  16. You are not the person with this sort of situation. I think a lot of people are wondering just when to open their mouths and yell. The time will come for all of us.

    Comment by Arnie — February 8, 2011 @ 4:25 PM | Reply

  17. Agree with Arnie. If only I had the option to pack in like 14. I’d do it in a heart beat. There are lots of us out there like this. But we have to pay the rent.

    Comment by anonymous — February 9, 2011 @ 9:26 PM | Reply

  18. See ya on the outside, cuz.

    Comment by Chembrovich — March 14, 2011 @ 4:56 PM | Reply

  19. Thanks, nice post as usual!

    Comment by Anita — October 4, 2011 @ 8:32 PM | Reply

  20. good content and posts you’ve put up here, come back and start this blog again when you have the time… cheers

    Comment by CCNA Syllabus — October 22, 2011 @ 1:02 PM | Reply

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