The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Subprime

I continue to read pieces like this one in today’s WSJ about the spread of subprime troubles to unknowing sorts in places like Australia, where a town council was bewildered to discover it was losing money in U.S. subprime, and its banker shrugged and said, “Didn’t you read the documents?”. I am reminded of a favorite Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy moment:

But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

“Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

“But the plans were on display …”

“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

“That’s the display department.”

“With a flashlight.”

“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

“So had the stairs.”

“But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”


  1. The fine print, the license agreement, the lease, the terms of service, click here for legal advice…
    It is the stuff you read when it’s too late, when you need to know just how you got screwed…
    It’s everywhere, it will bite you too, one day.

  2. At the root of it all is fraud. Wall Street exported to Canadian institutions $160 billion of this junk. See

  3. adam block says:

    A good one: I often use the “behind a sign saying ‘beware of leopard'” line when heckling friends about their lack of transparency about something.