Magazine May 17, 2010, Issue

Addenda to Previous Agreements, Pursuant to Financial Reform Act of 2010*

*Real-life version. Actual version as enacted by Congress may vary.

TOP OF FORM

By checking this box, you acknowledge receipt of and agreement with the following new regulations and policies of your credit-card issuer. As always, your credit-card issuer is here to serve you and your credit needs. Please note that new federal disclosure rules require us to remind you, the creditee, that we, the creditor, are in this for the money. Which is why, for instance, our interest rates are so high. Why, for instance, it takes three hours to speak to an actual person. Why, for instance, we’re all Delaware-based corporations — it’s a lot cheaper to buy a senator from a small state — and why, for instance, the minute you check this box, we’re raising our interest rates and shortening the introductory rates we offered to you that day when you were tired and bored and walking by our kiosk at the airport. And also why we’ll begin calling you and e-mailing you (thanks for that info, by the way!) to sell you useless insurance you don’t need. Please re-un-uncheck this box only if you DO NOT want to receive NO information about these offers and if you DO NOT want a salesman to NOT call you with exciting opportunities in home finance. By checking this box, you agree to all of the above, and more, too, which we’re not required to tell you about. (Thanks, Senator Dodd!)

By checking this box, you acknowledge receipt of and agreement with the following new regulations and policies of your pension-fund-management company. The new regulations are as follows: You no longer have a pension.

By checking this box, you acknowledge receipt of and agreement with the following new regulations and policies of your investment bank, Goldman Sachs, and further, you acknowledge receipt of and agreement with any other new regulations or policies your investment bank, Goldman Sachs, may come up with. Essentially, here’s what you need to know: We’re probably lying to you right now. And we probably were lying to you yesterday, when we agreed to the deal over dinner. (We paid for that dinner, remember? Right? The check came and we picked it up and made a big show of it, remember? Well, guess what? You’re paying for that dinner. Check the itemized expenses in our billing statement — oh, whoops! Right! We forgot! We don’t itemize our expenses! We just . . . send you a bill. Well then, I guess you have to trust us . . .) Well, no matter who paid, the point is, we made a deal, and what you need to know is that we probably made a deal this morning with another party taking the opposite side of your deal. Weird, huh? But it makes a certain kind of sense, especially if you’re a Goldman employee. But here’s the thing: In every trade, there’s a seller and a buyer, right? We’re big boys, all of us. We know that in every deal, someone’s the shark and someone’s the chump. Someone’s smart and someone’s stupid. But there are some deals — for which we’re very very grateful — in which both the buyer and the seller are the chumps. In some deals, the only shark around is us. By checking this box, you’re saying, “Okay, okay, do what you want to me. Just clean up afterwards. And buy me dinner. Or pretend to.”

By checking this box, you acknowledge receipt of and agreement with the following new regulations and policies of your mortgage lender, and of the Chinese-based financial institution it is a wholly owned subsidiary of, probably, by now. As you know, when we issued you your home loan using our three-minute EZ Twitter-based Application Process, we required nothing more than your signature. We didn’t require proof of income or proof of employment, which seems silly now that the cat’s out of the bag and we all know that you don’t have any income, or any job. So, obviously, it’s an awfully tall order to expect you to make your $7,800 monthly mortgage payment out of a monthly income of zero. By checking this box, we’re all starting again. You, with a new home somewhere, bought with money borrowed from anyone but us; us, with a new, clean balance sheet. By checking this box, your home lender of record becomes the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, and it’s up to them to try to get your sorry ass on the phone, up to them to sort out what your empty house in West Rolling Hills Acres Estates is worth, next to all of those other houses in West Rolling Hills Acres Estates. Still, it was a fun ride, wasn’t it? By checking this box, you acknowledge that it was a blast, these past few years, pretending we were all millionaires, pretending that money really does grow on trees.

BOTTOM OF FORM

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