Lucy Pollak Public Relations

Dinner at Home between Deaths – Playwright’s Note

A note from the playwright

I had a stepfather who didn’t want me to be an actor. That’s how I ended up in finance. I lived the Big Short. Michael Lewis and I started at Salomon Brothers about the same time. He was in the sales and trading program. I was a research analyst in the Bond Research Department working for the legendary economist Henry Kaufman. As an analyst, I was an observer more than participant. These were the early days of financial engineering.  Bankers were realizing they could package and sell just about anything and their customers, hungry for yield, were buying. A couple of year’s later Salomon Brothers was charged with illegal government bond trading and was no more.

I remember once taking a business call while I was visiting my grandfather. I was saying on the phone $50, $100, $75, etc. After I hung up, my grandfather said, “I have only one question.” Were those thousands or millions?” In the 1980s, they were millions, and that was a lot of money. By the 2000s, everything was billions.  By then, I was working for an independent economic consulting firm as a housing analyst. House prices were rising, the volume of subprime mortgages growing and the securitization market going global. We called the housing bubble in 2004. Spoke to client after client warning house prices were likely to fall, that subprime mortgages would be worthless, that households were likely to suffer. Most were making too much money in the booming market to listen, until it was too late. You likely saw the movie.

Dinner came out of my need to get inside the mind and heart of someone who could be so reckless. Playwriting, like acting, allows me to experience other lives. I never knew anyone quite like Sean; he is an act of my imagination. I knew people working with and earning vast sums. Some were honorable, some less so. While markets are regulated, the ones with the money are in the driver’s seat. Finance remains a world of mystery to many because it is in the interest of the sellers to keep it a mystery. We end up having to trust someone. The key is to get to know the person, only invest in instruments your completely understand, read and be informed. You might meet a Sean, but my money is on you to recognize and avoid the deception.

— Andrea Lepcio