Kaupthinking can be dangerous

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Another fun thing I found on John Hempton’s blog. It’s an ad from back in the day for Kaupthing, the once high-flying, now effectively bankrupt Icelandic bank:

The catch-phrase of the first part of the ad—”We can, if we think we can”—is scary enough. Then there’s this bit:

We thought we could double in size and we did, every year for eight years. We thought we could increase our balance sheet, and we did, by 500% in just three years. We think we can continue to grow the same way we always have …

When you hear growth claims like that from, say, a technology company, the appropriate reaction is, “Hmmm, seems pretty unlikely that they can keep that up.” When you hear them from a bank, the appropriate reaction is, “Yikes! Get me outta here!”