Monday, May 10, 2010

The Economy and Poker Comparisons

A rather long, boring write-up on market reaction to the EU's proposed trillion $ aid package is here. But the segment I'm interested in is this:

“There has been a poker game going on between the markets and the EU,” said Gary Jenkins, head of credit strategy at Evolution Securities Ltd. in London. “This is probably reaching a climax as the EU has just gone ‘all in.’”

This is hardly the most egregious misuse of the phrase "all in", but it's not precisely accurate. Going all-in suggests that you've put everything you have on the line. In a tournament, if you lose, you're out.

But the economy isn't a tournament. It's a cash game. You go all-in there, then you may very well have some more cash in your pocket, or be willing to make a trip to Ye Olde ATM. In fact, if you aren't, then maybe you shouldn't have sat down in the first place.

And the opponent they're going all-in against in this case is a broke-ass degenerate gambler who's chasing more losses than he could ever hope to repay. This is the guy who has markers at every casino, have hit up all their friends for cash to the point where they don't have any more friends, been disowned by their family, and have five gorillas standing at the rail waiting to break their knees or take their money for the mobs they work for.

In short, they're going to call no matter what. Then, regardless of the cards, they're going to take all the cash and run for it. By the time the EU catches them, they'll have lost all the money and be sitting at another table.

And the EU will pull out its ATM card and reload.

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