Saxo Bank CEO Fears The Broad Relevance Of Ayn Rand In Today's Society

Tyler Durden's picture

One of the biggest mistakes we can make, Saxo Bank's CEO warns, is to assume that rationality will prevail, that just through superior economic performance, freedom will capture enough peoples' hearts in a democracy to win the day. In the last of his three-part series (part 1 and part 2), Lars Seier Christensen focuses on the broader relevance of Ayn Rand in society today, noting that she remains among the few that recognised with crystal clarity, that we will not win the battle through just proving that freedom and capitalism works. This, he warns, creates a major problem for those of us that like to argue rationally, rather than emotionally.

Excerpted from Saxo Bank CEO, Lars Seier Christensen's blog,


[The current irrational world] creates a major opportunity for politicians that intuitively know that in a rational world, there would be little demand for their services. Only in an irrational, emotional universe, where opportunists can gain access to media and visibility to express “feelings” and try to take the moral high ground, no matter how unfounded in reality it is — only in such an environment can you survive without having to produce practical, productive results, and instead prosper and benefit from empty talk and third-rate acting performances.

This tendency, unfortunately, has only strengthened during the recent crisis. There is often a complete disconnect between the reality and the words used to describe it, the actions pretending to deal with it. In particular, this is very noticeable in the Eurozone these days.


Ayn Rand has gained renewed relevance and attention, because her predictions have been fulfilled in many different areas.

First, the politicians assign ever greater powers to themselves, as they manage to convince the citizens of the need for even more interference, although the problems are created by interference in the first place.

There are endless examples of this in both the US and the Eurozone, where one mistake invariably leads to call for even more powers, leading to new mistakes.

Second, freedom and capitalism, the only real answer to the current crisis, gets ever more restricted and prevented from working efficiently, meaning that the underlying strength of human ingenuity and creativity is stopped from working and becomes increasingly powerless to pull us out of the morass we are in.

Another of Rand's predictions of business people using government favours in return for giving up their independence, has sadly been confirmed better than anywhere else in my own industry. It is embarrassing to see the extent the banking industry has relied on support from governments, and how ruthlessly it is currently exploiting the offers of cheap money available from the central banks.

Very little of the bailouts filter down to the real economy...


Pick-a-winner, corporate social responsibility, employment rules, affirmative action, the creation of fictional jobs and plain political popularity and obedience will then rule who prospers and survives in all industries, not just banking. Beware of this development, it is poison to capitalism, growth and to prosperity for all of you.


In fact, the undemocratic, power-grabbing, emotional, populistic Washington that takes over in Atlas Shrugged is today most closely resembled by the EU and the Eurozone in the real world.


In France, we now have a President that by his own admission, hates the rich. So much so that he is trying to circumvent his own constitution to introduce punitive taxes on them, although illegal.


Well, it seems that the rich also hate their president, judging by the number of them leaving — famously spearheaded by Gerard Depardieu — for places like Belgium, that amazingly actually acts as a tax haven for the French in spite of all the EU rhetoric, or Switzerland, where inflows of new immigration requests are, according to my sources, at record highs, particularly from Scandinavia, UK and France. Depardieu, of course, chose Russia, which speaks volumes as to the deep trouble Western Europe is in.


This leads to a very interesting question, a question full of hope. Is there indeed also a solution to the problem, such as the one Ayn Rand foresaw with the flight to Galts Gulch? It will be difficult to find a place entirely outside of the reach of aggressive governments eager for tax dollars, as Switzerland has learned to its misfortune.


So nowhere seems safe from populism and irrationality any longer. It is difficult to see the necessary reforms forthcoming, and sadly, we may have to go through a much more severe economic collapse before change will be forced upon us. Unfortunately, that change may also be totalitarian in nature, of course. In fact, that is the more likely outcome in the short run.

I don't believe the battle will be won by economic rationality. This goes out the door, once more than 51 percent of the voters live off the government — and probably even long before.


If we don’t succeed in changing the values and direction of at least the next generation, I fear the full prediction of Atlas Shrugged will become reality and while that may hold some promise for the distant future, it is not something that I think people of my age feel like going through if we can avoid it.


Read Christensen's full Ayn Rand discussion here (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)

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HedgeAccordingly's picture

Can see that... Many similaries. many differences.. 1 being fatherless kids . - 

SAT 800's picture

Saxo Bank has a wonderful on-line trading platform where you can open an account and trade FX, and or Silver, too. It's a great Bank.

BKbroiler's picture

Ayn Rand was an idiot.  Reading "Atlas Shrugged" is an exercise in tolerance for poor writing.  Her characters are so one dimensional, her plots so predictable and asinine, it's really no wonder she has the audience she does.  No thinking person can actually take her seriously, but like religion, her work is a tool to control the stupid through simple mantras that can be absorbed by simple minds.   Maybe I'm being "emotional" or "irrational" by not agreeing with the banker.

Fredo Corleone's picture

Arguing rationally: Jim Rogers, Jeremy Grantham.

Arguing emotionally: Jim Cramer, Paul Krugman.

Rational lucidity shall always triumph over subjective emotion. It is incumbent upon the investor to discern between truth and folly.

disabledvet's picture

Jim Cramer..."successfully selling a natural gas boondoggle to XOM." hahahahaha. gotta love it. Not as good as "striking it rich under XOM's headquarters" though. (EOG.) I mean seriously..."it's all about the work"? Really? These clowns stood out there window all day with billions of barrels of oil under their feet...and someone decided to actually drill for oil there and they became rich because of it. Believe me...that HQ was on that spot for a reason: precisely to NOT allow that to happen. "but once you blow up the real estate market" that puts a lot of things in play that were not in play before. Turns out there was more oil...and natural gas...than this country ever needed...but instead it was "play with paper trades." Fed Ex coming to the debt markets to buy back two billion in stock? I mean you really can't make this up. Although apparently someone thinks these things can only just "go up." Didn't that "just not work" last summer when the Fed announced taper? "No, not at all" seems to be the answer.

NoDebt's picture

When education was lost to conservative, Constitutional ideas, we lost everything else along with it.  It's only now we're feeling the effects.  When your economics professor is teaching you about the glories of Marxism, you'll never question those politicians' fanciful promises of fairness and prosperity for all under the wise and benevolant hand of the government.

It's over.  We lost long ago.

The sheep (rich and poor alike) have been well trained to feed from the government trough.  They don't even venture out in the meadow any more.  They've been told there are nothing but wolves out there and the grass is too sour to eat.

gwar5's picture

And how come Marxists never produce a single positive result to improve the human condition yet they scream at capitalism for not making all poor people go away?




satoshi101's picture

On that note, I think it might be time to start drinking beer.


Yardfarmer's picture

more useless grand sounding paeans and platitudes rising like clouds of secular insense to the idols of scientific materialism and positivist triumphalism. 

Dinero D. Profit's picture

There is no such thing as sin. 

There is moral (a general rule of right living) and immoral, ethical and unethical, lawful and unlawful.

~I~ have never sinned in my life, and I insist upon that.

acetinker's picture

Who among us is qualified to define "sin"?  Not me, for sure.  I'm pretty damn sure that the folks who wrote and compiled the various "holy books" weren't either.  If we have a Creator, and I'm certain we do, It knows damn good and well that we aren't even remotely qualified to make such judgements.

Now, there are things I don't like, things I don't condone, and things I downright refuse to participate in.  Are those things sins?  I have no idea.  I didn't make this world.  For all I know, everything's exactly as it should be.

Simplifiedfrisbee's picture

The conscious is qualified. Every human being inherently knows good from bad. Do not complicate these matters. Rather, they are meant to be simplified.

acetinker's picture

You know your perceptions, that is all.  Same is true for each of us.

StychoKiller's picture

Sin is knowing the difference between good and evil, yet choosing to do evil.

ForTheWorld's picture

The avoidance of sin for one person, is the general rule of right living for you.

Where do your definitions of moral, ethical and lawful behaviour come from? If you say yourself, you're giving yourself too much credit.

Anusocracy's picture

I define morals as a biological-cultural adaption that promotes the survival of the group in which they developed.

The hunter-gatherer morality, the pharaonic morality, and the freedom morality do not benefit the survivability of each other.

So, the rational thing to do is to separate them so that each does not have authority over the others.

Soul Glow's picture

I find her fiction as poor as you do, but I do like watching her in interviews.  She does have great ideas, however poorly developed they are in her fiction.

BKbroiler's picture

I'm not sure anybody enjoys watching her, as she was ugly as sin, but I agree, she spoke better than she wrote.

satoshi101's picture

Are you dissing Yellen, Hillary, or Madame Halfbright?

The USA loves butt ugly women, they're the salt of America.

TPTB loves putting ugly women in positions of FAUX power, so that nobody actually thinks about their policy.


What the hell does her look have to do with her ideas?

Me thinks the GOVERNMENT ASSHOLES that infest ZH, don't want anybody to discuss her ideas.

It's all about her ideas folks anything else is cheap trolling from PRO-USA bot's.

BKbroiler's picture

What the hell does her look have to do with her ideas?

They're both really bad. did you read the book? I suffered through the whole thing and it's her philosophy.  Virtue of selfishness is more tolerable, but not much. Ugly was just on topic.

GOVERNMENT ASSHOLES that infest ZH, don't want anybody to discuss her ideas.

Oh shit.  You discovered my secret plan.  I spent years and years on ZH just waiting for this thread to tell you how bad this woman's book is. 

LetThemEatRand's picture

My secret plan is to discuss how bad her ideas are every day.  And people think I'm crazy to think that a large number of individuals in power think she's all that.  Welcome to the middle class getting fucked by CEO's and telling us all it's a good thing.  Rand created a blueprint for oligarchs taking over the world and minions who "rational[ize]" that behavior as somehow positive for us all.

putaipan's picture

i'm just constnatly amazed by the ability of these assholes to conflate neoliberal chicago school of economic swindlerisms with freedom and capitalism. and i blame ayn rand for that.

mick_richfield's picture

Did you actually read her stuff?

It doesn't sound like it.

Why on Earth would someone who hates a philosopher so much take her name as part of his nom de plume here?

What the hell is wrong with you, LTER?

How much is wrong with you?

LetThemEatRand's picture

Why is everyone's response to criticism of Rand to ask if I've read it?  Oh right.   Think about that.

mick_richfield's picture

Because it doesn't sound like you have?

Or else you have, but your ability to express yourself greatly exceeds your understanding?

I think I'll go with #2.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Do you feel that Greenspan did not understand what he co-wrote with her, or is it a more plausible explanation that I am right and you are wrong about what she looks like in practice?  If you reject the latter, on what basis?  Because he didn't "do what he said?"  Where have I heard that before?  A philosophy that falls apart when put into practice is not worth following. 

mick_richfield's picture

See below -- I think.

I actually think that guy was Francisco d'Anconia.

You know -- she didn't make anything up.

akak's picture

Greenspan NEVER claimed to be following Ayn Rand's philosophy or principles when he entered the belly of the Fed beast --- in fact, he shied away from and all but disavowed his prior connections with her, and with them.  This is the one fact that you consistently refuse to acknowledge in your kneejerk, irrational hatred of Ayn Rand and her works (none of which, I am convinced, you have ever read in any event).

Greenspan was a hypocrite and a sociopath for selling his soul, but not an Objectivist in doing so.

Spanky's picture



Greenspan NEVER claimed to be following Ayn Rand's philosophy or principles when he entered the belly of the Fed beast... -- akak

Yes, he did... in one of his recent books, published just after he stepped down as Fed chairman.

akak's picture

I challenge you to find any such quote.

And even if you can, it would represent nothing but a bald-faced lie anyway.

Millions of Crusaders and other Christians have over the centuries slaughtered and killed tens of millions while claiming to do so in Christ's name --- did that make them good and honest Christians, and were they thereby automatically following Christ's Biblical teachings merely because they claimed to be doing so?

Spanky's picture

Millions of crusaders, including our modern ones, killed in Christ's name... What do you think his followers believe? Love thy neighbor? And yes, they were (and are) considered good and honest Christians. The real test of a philosophical, religious or ideological system lies not, necessarily, in the words of the prophet, but the acts of his followers.

And even if you can, it would represent nothing but a bald-faced lie anyway. -- akak

I find your ability to automatically dismiss any quote I might dig up interesting... Emotionally invested in your adopted ideology? 

gaoptimize's picture

Given the situation of Christians in the ME today, I'm inclined to answer "Yes, they were".  It was likely the same struggle back then, without the PC, butt kissing leadership we have now.

fazsha's picture

Here you go, buddy:

"Ayn Rand and I remained close until she died in 1982, and I'm grateful for the influence she had on my life. I was intellectually limited until I met her. All of my work had been empirical and numbers-based, never values-oriented. I was a talented technician, but that was all. My logical positivism had discounted history and literature -- if you'd asked me whether Chaucer was worth reading, I'd have said, "Don't bother." Rand persuaded me to look at human beings, their values, how they work, what they do and why they do it, and how they think and why they think. This broadened my horizons far beyond the models of economics I'd learned. I began to study how societies form and how cultures behave, and to realize that economics and forecasting depend on such knowledge -- different cultures grow and create material wealth in profoundly different ways. All of this started for me with Ayn Rand. She introduced me to a vast realm from which I'd shut myself off."

Serenity Now's picture

Good job.  I remember this crap from Greenspan's book that I read a few years ago.  He should have stayed a musician, his first semi-career.

StandardDeviant's picture

Good quote, thanks.

So, he says his association with Rand caused him to "look at human beings, their values, how they work", and so on.  That makes her one of his influences; but that's a very different thing than saying that he necessarily arrived at the same conclusions that she did, or that his subsequent actions at the Fed were based on her philosophy and beliefs.

Based on her consistently scathing criticism of governmental meddling in the economy, I suspect she would have been very unimpressed, to put it mildly, by the "Greenspan put" and by gov't bailouts of banks and others (AIG).  Haven't been able to find any quotes from Rand herself about Greenspan (not surprising, since he wasn't appointed Fed Chairman until five years after her death), but other Objectivists such as Binswanger have been highly critical.


acetinker's picture

Co-option is not new, Rand.  Greenspan used Rand as long as it was beneficial to him.  Once he got what he wanted, he abandoned her and her philosophy.  Politics 101.

I am flummoxed by your (and your fanbois') castigation of Ayn Rand.  It seems as if your "education" prevents you from recognizing cold, hard facts.  Forgive me if I am wrong, but you sound like a recent graduate of a lesser liberal arts college.  Note that I do not ask for your forgiveness- you don't much matter to me.  However, if you are middle aged, or technically minded at all, I have missed those nuances and ask the forgiveness of the larger community.

So, Christensen pisses you off 'cos he's a banker?  I generally hold bankers in low esteem, but when one speaks truth, it makes me happy.  Likewise, John Galt was wrong for correctly identifying the flaws in Marxism and acting in his own best interest?  Dagny Taggart is to be reviled for inheriting a huge railroad and trying (in vain, I might add) to actually provide value to society?  Rearden was one of the "bad guys"?

It follows then that Wesley Mouch was a champion of the people, huh?

Jeezus!  Has Richard Branson announced plans to colonize Mars yet?  I'll work for free.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Again, with the Rand/Greedspank, guilt by association horseshit. This is simply hasty generalization fallacy. Now cut it out. Work on a better argument.

A philosophy that falls apart when put into practice is not worth following.

Exactly, where and when was it practiced? Evidence please?

malek's picture

She (LTER) doesn't have read it, at least not attentively.

I a few times sprinkled in less known references to Atlas Shrugged in postings replying to her and LTER completely ignored them. Case closed.

LetThemEatRand's picture

She doesn't have read it, doesn't I have?  And your idea of an ad hominem is to call me a female while you spout obscure Randisms that you have committed to memory?  Truly pathetic.  I mean, seriously pathetic.   But indicative of your belief system and those who upvote you.  Let me quote chapter __ of book ______.  Sound familiar?  That cunt is a fucking religion to you people.  How do you not realize how fucked up that is?

malek's picture

LOL, being called a female is now an ad hominem? I've read better from you.

How other people go overboard about it doesn't change shit on my view of the book, thank you.
I wrote a quick summary which aspects I dislike of "Atlas Shrugged" in a post here 2 or 3 weeks ago, look through my postings if you like. Unfortunately you were never able to present a coherent critique in that way.

satoshi101's picture

Because you have NO fucking idea why you hate her, like Pavlovs dog you salivate at her name but don't have a clue why.


I remember the same thing in the 1980's I used to go to a bar that Ron Paul guys hung out, I have nothing against anybody, but as soon as the resident house 'liberals' heard that the group over in the corner was RON-PAUL, they would yell "NAZI" at the top of their lungs?

I was thinking for what? Ron Paul walked and talked more about 'liberal' values than any of these liberals, ... for years I keep on them tell me why do you hate paul, and finally one dark night over a beer a cute little gal whispered into my hear, ... she said "We hate Ron Paul, because he is a Repuglican"

There you have it not a fucking thing about ideas, all about PAVLOVIAN political responses.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Funny, because I wrote in RP.  Once again, you are wrong.

acetinker's picture

Naw, it ain't funny at all.  You wrote in Ron Paul 'cos you DIDN'T know what you wanted.  Rand, you are a lost ball in the tall weeds.  Good luck!

LetThemEatRand's picture

Thanks for the brilliant response.

acetinker's picture

Look up.  You have had many brilliant responses from folks much more enlightened than me.  Still, you cling to your indoctrination.  Go forward, Rand.  Just know that you will henceforth do so without my support.  Godspeed!

G-R-U-N-T's picture

It would appear LTER that you are mentally challenged by Rands genius. She pulled covers on liberals, conservatives and the clergy like no other. She was truly brilliant. She understood Statism, as it's residual effect always ends in dictatorship and destruction.


StychoKiller's picture

LTER believes that highways cannot be built without the benevolent guidance of the State.

In other words, people are too stupid to do anything without the help of Big Brother.

Soul Glow's picture

Greenspan can say he studied the Randian school, but I'm not sure he implemented it, as he fudged with gold as much as anyone.