Reuters blog archive
By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Financiers typically turn away fees as willingly as dogs give up steaks. But Wall Street banks are leery of financing bids for gun maker Freedom Group for fear of damaging their reputations. Making assault rifles, it turns out, has joined pornography on the list of activities with risks that money can’t hide.
Despite a welter of mortgage-lending, Libor-fixing and money-laundering scandals over the past several years, banks still worry over their images. That’s why they have reputational risk committees which judge whether investments are suitable. Members of senior management, legal, investor relations and other departments make decisions based on squishy metrics including how the public views a business, how likely are any protests to surface, and how much money is at stake. The sale of Freedom Group set off alarm bells for at least some lenders.
The company isn’t just any old gunsmith. It’s the largest maker of assault rifles in the United States and made the Bushmaster model which was used to kill 20 students and six teachers in a Newtown, Connecticut school last December. After that massacre, owner Cerberus Capital Management put Freedom Group on the block.
from The Great Debate:
An unreliable narrator cannot be trusted.
He comes in many guises. There is the delusional unreliable narrator, like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, unaware of how the reader and the other characters perceive him. There is the mad narrator, as in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There are the unreliable narrators who lie to themselves to make the unreality appear real. Middle-aged professor Humbert Humbert in Lolita famously lies to the jury and to himself, believing his sexual affair with the drastically under-aged Lolita is not criminal. Yet Vladimir Nabokov, the author, gives a wink to the reader: We know the protagonist is not being honest with himself.
These characters are coming undone — the reader slowly notices fissures in their thinking, which clue us in that these narrators are living in an alternative universe. Then there is the more subtle unreliable. Nick Carraway, who narrates The Great Gatsby, is not to be trusted because of the way he chooses to tell his story. From the first word he is hiding the real story from the reader.
from The Great Debate:
Two tough issues — immigration reform and gun control. “It won’t be easy,” President Barack Obama said about gun control in December, “but that’s no excuse not to try.” Tuesday, he said about immigration reform: “The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become.”
Which does he stand a better chance of winning? Answer: immigration. On immigration, Obama has Democrats strongly behind him. Republicans are divided — and freaked out by the issue. On guns, he’s got Republicans strongly against him. Democrats are divided — and freaked out by the issue.