Daily Speculations

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The Chairman
Victor Niederhoffer


Thoughts of resignation and sabbatical letters are much in mind these days. And in that context, I am considering certain general principles of same starting with that of the Wizard of Oz, Prime Minister's Chamberlain's resignation in 1940 after fall of France, and the Nixon "Checkers" speech. However, I find this a subject that seems on the surface to be sadly neglected from a philosophic, investment, and humorous stand point, and in this context I appeal to all specs, minor academics, semi-quants et al for guidance or contributions on this point.

Before jumping into the consideration of Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz revelations, let us start with Don Quixote's final communication in chapter 74 where he says, "I have been foolish in my life, I desire not to be foolish in my death. I am now a profound enemy of Amadeus of Gaul. Now are all the profane histories of errant chivalry hateful unto me. I now acknowledge my folly, and perceive the danger whereinto the reading of them hath brought me. Now by the mere mercy of God, I utterly abhor them.  My dear friend [he says to Sancho], pardon me that I be such a fool as I was to make you believe that in the world thee have been and still are errant knights. In the nests of the last year, there are no birds of this year. Let my unfeigned repentance obtain the same estimation of me now that you had heretofore."

It's an ill wind that blows no good. Installment 2 of our study of resignations will be an updating of the 1998 work on auditor's resignations by Beneish, Hopkins, Jansen and Martin and their impact on stock prices.

James Sogi offers a few:

Tenet resigns as CIA director: "This is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. And while Washington and the media will put many different faces on the decision it was a personal decision and had only one basis in fact: the well-being of my wonderful family. Nothing more and nothing less."

James McGreevey resigns as governor of New Jersey: "Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact upon my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign. I'm very proud of the things we have accomplished during my administration. And I want to thank humbly the citizens of the state of New Jersey for the privilege to govern."

Richard Nixon resigns as President: "It has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort."

None takes personal responsibility for the failings that lead to their downfall and all rationalize with their accomplishments and circumstances.

Contrast Socrates: "I owe a greater obedience to God than to you, and so long as I draw breath and have my faculties, I shall never stop practicing philosophy." Further: "Acquit me or not. You know that I am not going to alter my conduct, not even if I have to die a hundred deaths." (Plato, Apology, 29d, 30c).

The hardest thing a man can do is face up to his own defects and failings. Few can, most refuse and many rationalize, to their eventual loss and failure from those very defects of character that may be hard-wired in or inherited from the grandfathers.

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