Wednesday, October 17, 2007

U2's Bono tells bankers they can make a difference -- but they already have...

U2's Bono tells bankers they can make a difference - The Boston Globe -- Somehow, this article strikes me as bizarre, or surreal. It goes beyond ironic. Here we have Bono, the self-anointed advocate of the besieged masses, private-jetting in to Boston to be talking to a convention of mortgage bankers bemoaning their own cursed fate, not that of the economy they've undermined or the people whose equity they've systematically stolen, under the cover of the law. U2? Me, too, as well.

With panels such as Subprime Market Portfolio Solutions for the Practitioners on the agenda yesterday, Bono's appearance created the buzz among attendees. So much so that those who didn't hear him regretted it right away.

"We were bummed we missed it," said Mary Pirello, who heard a rumor that Bono - said to be just 5 feet 6 inches tall - wore platform shoes on the podium. His outsized image was projected on two giant video screens flanking the stage in the hall.

With thousands of subprime loans falling into foreclosure across the country, the mortgage industry is struggling because investors are refusing to put more capital into a troubled sector. And with thousands of borrowers losing their homes to foreclosure, some in the industry are engaged in some serious soul-searching.

But for an hour or so yesterday, Bono, the bankers said, transported them out of their day-to-day worries. Though he has urged wealthy nations to forgive the debts of poor countries in Africa, forgiveness of domestic mortgages was not on Bono's agenda yesterday.

He instead charmed the bankers and lenders with stories about his "bad boy" days as a rocker. He also appealed to the audience's collective conscience when he urged them to do humanitarian work or give to charities, even during tough times.

"It's star power," said Brian Thomas, a Wells Fargo amp; Co. employee attending the conference from Minneapolis.

And all this talk about Bono's "really important" humanitarian work is great, said Ken Kummerer, who works for Southwest Securities in Chicago. But most who were there "love him because he's Bono," he said.

Said Valerie Harden, who works for JPMorgan Chase in Florida, "The reason people liked him was we're so wrapped up in ourselves - what's the interest rate and are we going to hit our quotas. He found the really important thing in life is to help people."

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