Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Arvin Jackson, Loan Officer in
The Bigger They Are The More You Can Loan Them

  Arvin Jackson headed into the office on a Wednesday morning thinking this had to be the best day of the week so far since anything short of a car accident would put this day at the top of a train wreck of a week. Missing out on the promotion to Senior Loan Officer Monday wasn’t totally unexpected. Arvin was the frontrunner until he found Billy the intern sleeping in the supply closet last week and asked him to come out of the closet and get to work. Someone from Human Resources overheard and sent an email to the entire company detailing the incident to make sure that everyone knew World Bank Unlimited was a ‘diversity friendly’ workplace full of tolerance except for diversity intolerance which would not be tolerated and that Arvin had been scheduled for a 48 hour sensitivity training boot camp to be held on Super Bowl weekend.

  “The promotion wasn’t that important. You didn’t really want the window office.”, Arvin told himself as he wound his way to the roof top of the parking garage. Billy got a promotion to Junior Loan Officer to pre-empt any legal action for his ‘humiliation’ and Arvin imagined the extra money would come in handy since Billy had recently been arrested for selling drugs to half of the companies in the building to supplement his intern's income.

  As Arvin got out of his car, the morning long drizzle turned into a downpour with a crack of thunder as he ran to the elevator which started its journey to the 40th floor just before he got to the door. As Arvin pushed the button to summon another elevator he thought about how he would have to hang his coat up to dry in his interior office which reminded him of Tuesday’s performance review when he was told that he was in danger of being moved to a cubicle if he didn’t start approving more loans. “Approving loans is how this company stays in business!” the Vice President of Loan Officers said. Arvin’s argument that while approving loans was important it was equally important not to be the loan holder when the client went bankrupt fell on deaf ears.

  Arvin smiled as he got onto the elevator, thinking about his almost supernatural ability to be the next to last lender - gaining high interest rates and fees and a nice commision before another bank would issue a bigger loan to pay off World Bank Unlimited only to see the client declare backrupcy. But all this new V.P. cared about was getting loans on the balance sheet which was how she got the job in the first place and it didn’t matter that the officers that approved the shakiest of loans were just using World Bank Unlimited to pad their statistics to get a bigger offer from their next job. Most of these kids never saw a year at World Bank before moving on and leaving the unpaid loans they approved for the V.P. to explain to the board (which was how the V.P. job opened up in the first place). Arvin thought he was immune to this ‘approval’ pressure after seven years at World Bank Unlimited but knew he could play the game as well as anyone and would start approving loans and bring his resume to the Third National Bank on the 28th floor since they were looking for Senior Loan Officers.

  Before Arvin could get to his office he was stopped by a large man with sunglasses and a black suit. “You’ll have to wait here, sir”, said the man. Arvin could see his co-workers peeking around the corners and heard whispering about an SEC investigation. There were three people in black suits waving electronic devices in his office and another two dozen black suited people sweeping the rest of the office with electronic devices. Arvin tried to ask the large man in the sunglasses and black suit what was going on but was not getting any response except for the monotonic “You’ll have to wait here, sir”. After a few minutes the man pressed a button on his headgear and said “All clear”.

  At that point a hushed silence came into the room as the elevator doors opened and the President of the United States strode through the hallway surrounded by an entourage of black suited people that Arvin now realized were Secret Service personnel. The President walked directly to Arvin and grabbed his hand saying “Arvin Jackson, it’s nice to meet you. Can we talk for a few minutes?”

  Arvin stammered out “Of course, Mr. President. Let’s go into my office.” The President and three secret service types came into the office while Arvin hung his wet coat up while noticing that the President and all the black suited types were completely dry. Arvin asked the President what brought him to World Bank Unlimited and the President said “Arvin, I need a loan. I had my friends at the NSA look up loan officers whose phone conversations and emails showed they believed in our vision for America and your name was at the top of the list.”

  “I’m glad to hear that, Mr. President. Are you looking for a personal loan or are you planning on starting up a foundation for your post-presidential years…?”

  “Arvin, I’m looking for a business loan of sorts.”

  Arvin was confused. Surely the President of the United States could snap his fingers and have enough donations to fund a small country. Thinking this was some sort of photo opportunity for the President, Arvin brought up the loan application form on his computer and asked how much the President was looking to borrow.

  “I would like to borrow 600 billion dollars, Arvin.”

  Arvin broke into a coughing fit when he heard that, but he quickly grabbed a sip of water. He was sure this was some sort of a practical joke but decided to play along and said “So what is this loan for specifically, Mr. President?”

  “I need to balance our country’s budget. The opposition won’t let me raise taxes and my supporters won’t allow me to cut spending so the country needs a loan until the economy turns around.”

  “I don’t see why this can’t happen. Float loans typically need some sort of collateral. Perhaps the oil and mineral rights in the National Parks System?”

  “I’d love to Arvin, but the only collateral I can only offer is the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”

  “Not a problem, Mr. President. Let’s pull up the credit history. Oh my, it seems the country is 17 TRILLION DOLLARS in debt! Apparently the credit of the United States is really just credit with no debit. And it says here that the government is discouraging faith on an unprecedented scale. No prayer in school…the Ten Commandments barred from public buildings…holiday trees replacing Christmas trees. I’m sorry, Mr. President, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough faith or credit to justify a 600 billion dollar loan.”

  “Our country has plenty of faith. We have faith in the government to solve their problems and just need some credit to make that happen, Arvin. It’s a shame World Bank Unlimited can’t work with me for the good of the country.”

  If the President was disappointed, he didn’t show it. He straightened his tie and adjusted his cufflinks while almost imperceptibly shaking his head from side to side. Arvin racked his brain to think of a way to get this loan done. Just as the President put his hands on the armrests of his chair so as to lift himself up, Arvin blurted out “Wait, Mr. President. What if we made a series of smaller loans targeted for specific needs?”.

  “If that’s what we need to do. There is the two billion dollars for the dam in Kentucky that I owe for Senator McConnell delivering enough Republican votes in the Senate to get the shutdown lifted and debt ceiling raised. With the military threatening not to be able to respond to future disasters like the Typhoon Haiyan, 150 billion dollars should be an easy sell. The war on terror is still going on so we could use 50 billion dollars for foreign aid to keep terrorists and their supporters busy burning American flags while we use our drone planes to solve the problem and help their governments buy American weapons. 40 billion dollars can cover the reduction in the food stamp program. And the other 358 billion dollars can go to paying for the shortfall in the new health care system. The only people that are signing up are sick and almost sure to get more out of the system than they put in to it. I had a hard enough time getting the bill passed in the first place without having to go back to Congress for more money and we would also be able to cover some unforeseen IT expenses.”

  Arvin put the four loans in the computer and got the answer he feared. “I’m sorry, Mr. President. While the goals of more money for the military, foreign aid, and universal health care are worthy in and of themselves they don’t bring in any direct money to the government to allow it to repay the loans. Without a clear path to repayment, I won’t be able to approve the loan.”

  “Arvin, why didn’t you say you were worried about repayment?” the President said and tossed a business card onto his desk. “Call my friend Jan at the Federal Reserve. She’ll provide documentation that not only will the Fed assume the loan at any time, they’ll loan World Bank Unlimited the 600 billion at .1% interest to loan to us at 3%. We’d borrow the money from the Fed ourselves but there are some regulations we haven’t been able to find workarounds to yet.”

  Arvin called the number on the card, verified the caller, and within minutes had email confirmation of the guarantee of the loan and a 618 billion dollar transfer to the World Bank Unlimited’s loan fund (The 600 billion dollar loan amount with a three percent commission). Having the available funds and a guarantor with unlimited funds was enough to allow Arvin to manually override the ‘red flags’ on the loan and print the loan application. The President signed the form, Arvin pressed a few more buttons on his computer and said “Thank you for your business, Mr. President. The 600 billion dollars has been transferred to the U.S. Treasury.” The President got up and shook Arvin’s hand, saying, “Thank you, Arvin. If I find myself needing a Treasury Secretary, you will be on my short list.” And just like that, the President was swept out of the 40th floor by his entourage.

  When the President left Arvin quickly filed the paperwork so no one else could take credit for the loan and decided to take the afternoon off to shop for a new townhouse and that silver Jag he had his eye on. His normal commission was one half of one percent of the loan amount on most loans and a quarter percent on loans larger than ten million dollars. A quarter percent of 600 billion dollars still left him with a billion and a half dollars before taxes. The elevator opened before Arvin even had time to push the button and took him directly to the parking garage roof for the walk to his car. The rainy morning had given way to a bright sunshiny day and a rainbow was directly overhead. Arvin considered starting his own bank as he headed to his car and thought with a smile, “Who says big government isn’t good for business?”