A house of cards, the "House of Wirecard" (Dan McCrum, Financial Times), has collapsed. The market value of a Dax company has been destroyed. 1.9 billion euros somehow disappeared or were never there. A film about the scandal is in the works. Individual guilty verdicts are still pending, but names are irrelevant here.
The characters that appear in this story are types that rub against clichés. A chief executive officer who, as a "man like an algorithm" (mirror)works and also quotes Martin Heidegger or Hannah Arendt. A chief operating officer whom his mother calls a "prepotent Zampano" and who is said to be happy to be served sushi on naked female bodies. A management consultant who had to resign as federal minister due to an unsuccessful doctorate. A state secretary who held a management position in a large investment bank before taking office. A senior security officer who previously worked in a bank's cum-ex operations. A supervisor whose primary job appears to be declaring himself not responsible.
Who thinks the closest thing to this staff - felt! - is wrong. Felt is a robust press material that consists of closely intertwined fibers. Here everything is connected to everything, nothing can come loose, everyone is involved and everyone is tight. Unlike the financial world, felt is completely unimaginative. The seductive power - and also the scandal - of the financial world is related to the fact that it channels fantasies and focuses them on the future: the fantasies of financial jugglers who open up business areas or build castles in the air, the fantasies of investors who hope for rising prices and returns Fantasies of politicians who want to go down in history as enablers and not as administrators. Anyone who does not play in this game is considered a spoiler, skeptic, down-to-earth thick skull or just a fool who misses a bargain. The tendency to break the rules is just as much a part of this game of greed as the tendency to cheat doesn't annoy you .
The question of whether Wirecard is an isolated case that, in exceptional cases, violates the generally applicable rules of good business conduct is so prevalent that it can actually be saved. This question has been resolved since the last financial crisis. The answer that Alexander Dibelius, then head of Germany at Goldman Sachs, gave in 2009 to the Spiegel interviewers' question as to whether his industry had "criminal energy" is good proof : "No, but there are isolated cases like Bernie Madoff that could thrive on fertile soil. " This is an amazingly confused answer for a man of this caliber. The contradictions biting their tails are particularly revealing: No, yes, but ...
In the end, the "fertile soil" remains, that is, the information that the supposed "individual cases" are not. Back then, this soil produced many poisonous fruits, and it is still fertile. The rise of Wirecard cannot be explained without complicity, collaboration, blindness to the company, good faith, wishful thinking of various participants. If you take a step back, three questions arise: Why is the pull of the financial world so strong? Why is the counter pull so small? And what will the fluid dynamics of the future look like?
The power of the financial world, to which the FinTech company Wirecard belongs, is demonstrated, among other things, by the fact that it can break with physical laws. It applies the lever with which people are set in motion at a point where there is no support, any abutment: in the non-place of the future, to which all fantasies are put. In comparison, the giant Atlas, which could have unhooked the real world, looked really old because it still needed a fixed position outside of this world and was not in virtual space.
The financial world appears so attractive because it operates with a double promise. At the macro level, it promises dynamism, growth, profit. In order for this promise not to be smeared from the outset as an exclusive offer for the privileged, so that it works at the micro level, it must be written in a language that everyone understands and is accessible to everyone. That is the language of money. Everyone can do something with money - because it works like a general-purpose weapon: it stands for a promise itself - for being able to transform itself into everything imaginable and desirable - and is calibrated to keep that promise. This is how greed becomes effective. Those who have money at their disposal - as the philosopher Georg Simmel said in 1900 - enjoy "absolute fluidity" and "fully possessed potentiality". This explains the sense of power of the Wirecard COO, who fantasized in chat with a confidant about wanting to buy a Caribbean island or Lake Starnberg. But this also explains why such a guy is not declared crazy and has been swimming in the mainstream of socially acceptable longings for years.