Risk Latte - Imagine A Year that never Ends

Imagine A Year that never Ends

Rahul Bhattacharya
Dec 29,2005

Imagine a calendar year that never ends. Or, it ends after a few hundred years which is as good as never ever ending for a single individual. What would happen then? What kind of a world we will then live in? It is a silly thought to occupy oneself with on the New Year's Eve. Is it really possible that a calendar year takes a few hundred earth years – an "earth year" comprises 365 days – to come to a close?

Yes, it is possible; if one lives on Pluto it would take a calendar year to end in 248 years (it takes Pluto 248 earth years to revolve around the sun). If you lived on Xena, the recently discovered tenth planet, then your calendar year would take 560 earth years to end (Xena takes 560 earth years to go around the sun).

When I shared this thought, via email, to my dear friend and compatriot, Michael Jenkins, whose has now left the fair shores of Hong Kong and settled somewhere on the right side of the Atlantic, he exclaimed, "well, for one there would be no need to pay bonuses to any of those overpaid bankers". Michael was one of those underpaid bankers, a rarest of the rare breed, who had accidentally fallen on the wrong side of the labour market after completing his Ph.D. in computer science almost two decades ago. Long ago as a systems analyst he once had a sneak peek into his banks payroll accounts and discovered that someone five years younger than him and only with a Bachelor's degree was earning ten times his salary simply because he was a trader. And further, at the end of a calendar year he earned a quarter of a million bucks in bonus. For the next fifteen years he tried in vain to become a trader in his bank, or for that matter in any bank in the world.

But let's not dwell on such morbid and unpleasant thoughts like bankers not getting bonuses. After all if the bankers didn’t get million dollar bonuses then how will we keep out all the below average human beings from more valuable professions like medicine, rocket science, academics, and engineering. Let's speculate on some other consequences of a never ending year.

Large accounting firms and brave corporations like WorldCom and Enron would have a big upside. They will never get prosecuted for fraud, at least not for a very long time. Since a company's financial statement will be perpetually in the making, the accounting fraud will never be detected. And when the calendar year will close, after a few earth centuries, the persons responsible for the fraud will be long dead and gone.

If only earth could go round the sun in a few hundred years rather than in one year, Enron could have been saved. It is a happy thought for Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling before their upcoming trial next January. Sorry, Bernie, but can’t change physics.

We could be in a perpetual summer or a perpetual winter depending on when we are born. Lucky those who are born in spring! How wonderful will the world be for them!

© Rahul Bhattacharya
This column is written by Rahul Bhattacharya and reflects his own views about life and business. It does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of other members of Risk Latte Americas Inc., Hong Kong (“the Company”) and the Company accepts no responsibility for any factual errors contained in the column and strongly advises readers not to pay much attention to it.

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