What have Mephistopheles and the financial markets got in common? A lot, according to Lothar Märkl, a private banker at Bank Hofmann in Zurich. A recent advertisement for the bank in the Financial Times touts Märkl as a "profound authority on Goethe's Faust" with a "particular flair for philosophical topics".
No kidding. In fact he has written his own version: Der Finanzfaust, a serious work - not a spoof, his colleague George Blum insists - closely based on Goethe's masterpiece. Whether that assists Märkl in his work is an open question.
Here's Mephisto in the Börsenküche - a variation of Goethe's witches' kitchen (loosely translated):
Slumps, catastrophes and crises, Blindly mirrored by stock prices Crashing, correcting and then falling While the scribblers with their scrawling Explain the what and how and why The signs escaped our eagle eye. But their judgement still is sought Even though it counts for nought Why? It pulls the punters in. Devil of Profit, I have to grin. Oh how the data lies and lies Before the audit's very eyes Every single forecast wrong Yet commissions roll along, In this game you'll come to see Truth is the first casualty.