These days, a Chinese saying needs to be inaccurate or non-existent to be spread. Witness the Chinese term for “crisis” (危机), which supposedly means danger + opportunity. (It comes closer to meaning 危险+时机 or dangerous time.) This saying has spread so far that it’s even come back to China, and even educated people use it to express Chinese ingenuity in the face of adverse circumstances. I always counter with this: are the Chinese as a people so callous that they view floods, and other calamities as an opportunity rather than a tragedy? What kind of people would do that?

Goldman Sachs, of course. Their manipulation of the mortgage markets fits the fake explanation of the Chinese term to a tee.

The day he received the Sparks memo, Viniar [of Goldman Sachs] seconded the plan in a gleeful cheerleading e-mail. “Let’s be aggressive distributing things,” he wrote, “because there will be very good opportunities as the markets [go] into what is likely to be even greater distress, and we want to be in a position to take advantage of them.”

Thanks to Rolling Stone Magazine for reminding me why I never liked GS.