Market is God
was one of those murderous February days when the air feels like steam
and the burning asphalt sinks underfoot. A quiet Sydney madness was
abroad. As I plodded across Hyde Park, the sound of sirens was everywhere.
was near Wynyard Station when a curious tableau confronted me. A young
man was lying face down on the path, and another was kneeling beside
him, holding his hand.
Good Samaritan looked up as I approached. "He's pretty distressed,
I've called the ambulance", he said in a soft Irish brogue. I got
the impression he was a backpacker.
man on the ground raised his head. There was fear and despair in his
eyes. He reached out to me with his free hand. He was in his twenties.
His clothes weren't cheap, but they'd seen better days -- a clean but
frayed business shirt, pin-striped suit pants and two hundred dollar
ignored the word of God. Please forgive me", he implored.
then a couple of young Mormons arrived; not weedy Anglo-Australians,
or even those earnest young Islanders built like the sides of houses.
These were the full enchilada -- beefy, sweating young Americans with
crisp white shirts and thick-soled shoes. They sat down on a nearby
park bench and offered to help.
squatted down and took the prostrate man's other hand. "It's gunna
be all right", I said, lying. "Where do you work?"
told me he was on the pension, living in a boarding house in Surry Hills.
He had a friend there. He was afraid. He wanted to have his old mind
back. He wanted forgiveness. I began to get the picture.
your friend's name? I'll call him".
Some people call him The Market, but I call him God". He gave me
a phone number. I called it and spoke to God. Curiously, he had an Irish
brogue. He said he'd come immediately.
God arrived he turned out to be about forty, wearing sandals, long hair,
a beard and cargo shorts.We'd got the young man onto a park bench but
in spite of our best efforts, he prostrated himself on the pavement.
"Forgive me, I lost faith, forgive me", he muttered.
do that, Nathan", said the Lord.
Irish backpacker and the two men of God coaxed him back onto the park
bench and I got a moment to speak privately to God.
to meet you, I've heard so much about you", I said "What's
terrible. Before he started to hear the voices he was doing really well
for himself. He's an economist ... worked for the Federal government
and then the Macquarie Bank, as a market analyst."
does he think you're God?"
it started with my nickname, but he took it seriously. My mates call
me 'The Market', 'cos I used to smoke a lot of dope ... you know ...
always on the way up."
take this a step at a time. He thinks the market is God and you're the
of the time. He focusses it all on me. It's a big responsibility. You
see, he's a market fundamentalist. He started to believe that if we
all obeyed the word of the Market, paradise would arrive on earth. The
Market is like the mind of God, if you follow my drift."
how does the Market speak to him?"
it goes up and it goes down, but you have to have faith in it whatever
happens. And then he believes this other contradictory bit of theology
which says that if you act in your own immediate interests, you'll be
acting in society's long-term interest.
got very confused. While the internet shares were booming he bought
internet shares, and then he had doubts. A voice kept kept telling him
that almost none of these companies could turn a profit in the next
decade, and he panicked, and started to sell.
was, he wasn't Robinson Crusoe. All his mates started selling out too,
and the bottom fell out, and now he's stuck with all the shares he couldn't
sell. They're worthless.
pushed him over the edge. He just went nuts. Doesn't know whether the
market deserted him or he deserted the market. He keeps wondering whether,
if he hadn't decided to sell, it would have just kept going higher and
higher, like the love of God."
this was too much for the Mormons, who made a collective decision that
this was a mental case, not a prospect for conversion. Not long after,
a couple of dykes arrived in an ambulance and took him away.
a way he did cause the dot.com crash", I said to God and the Irish
backpacker. "Him and a few hundred thousand others. Hardly surprising
though. I wouldn't call it loss of faith tho', I'd say they came to
their senses. But then, us possums were always atheists".