What Will You Say When Your Child Asks: “Why Didn’t You Invest in Eastern Poland?”
WHAT WILL YOU SAY WHEN YOUR CHILD ASKS: "Why didn't you invest in Eastern Poland?" (*)
* From a half-page advertorial in The Economist, January 2013, for the Development of Eastern Poland National Cohesion Strategy
He puts down his plastic action figure with careful menace,
and leans back on his red stool,
Hands by my sides, I shift my weight uneasily from leg to leg,
and my left foot twists awkwardly behind the right.
My armpits are damp and I can feel this morning's Weetbix churning in my stomach.
He rocks forward to his table,
which is covered in green crayon images of missiles and skulls,
lifts distastefully with one hand,
a corner of the Family Investment Report 2021,
and lets it drop with a thump.
The toy speedboat balanced on the edge of the table wobbles
and clatters to the cartoon aquatic carpet,
its engine buzzing to life.
Not losing eye contact,
he silences it with a sharp kick.
"I'm underwhelmed," he utters,
"Distinctly underwhelmed," very quietly.
"Risk adjusted returns are at least 3 per cent below target, below budget, below market benchmark and below the Osman family next door," raising his voice with each item.
"I'm the laughing stock of Grade 4 and the Mighty Boots soccer league," he shouts.
I gravely inspect the black-striped, orange fish at the centre of the little carpet.
"Not to mention we can no longer afford the minimum upfront for our Chilean copper hedging position."
He opens the binder at a random page.
His finger stabs at a pie chart.
"Why did we have no exposure in... the Subcarpathians and Świętokrzyskie, for example?! Look at this. Confectionery, drilling equipment and health services stocks there were all up 45% over the financial year! Where were we?!"
He smacks his palm down on the table, scattering blunt coloured pencils.
I flinch. He pauses.
I murmur quickly, "The region has underperformed for years. There was no way of anticipating the boom in private dentistry there."
He shakes his head slowly. "No foresight. No imagination. I can't believe I'm tied into a twenty-one year contract with you."