For the state dinner Monday night in honor of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (and Columbus Day), the wine served with the first course was a Ponzi -- specifically a Ponzi Chardonnay "Reserve," 2005. (The Ponzi vineyards are in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.)
P. O'Neill of the blog Best of Both Worlds, describes the menu offering as an "apt commentary on the financial crisis": Mortgage companies, banks, and their executives have been making scads of money via a system that guaranteed big returns to the people lending money on the front lines while passing on disastrous, disguised risk to people further down the line. A collapse of the system was inevitable in the long term, but others would be left holding the bag. That's pretty close to the definition of a Ponzi scheme. One wonders who at the dinner got the joke.
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