"Hey, guys. Let's play Chapter 11."
"That's a great idea. What is Chapter 11?""When you can't pay your bills, you go into bankruptcy."
"OK, what do we need?"
"We need a banker who loans us millions of dollars that we won't be able to pay back."
"I want to be the banker."
"I wouldn't be too sure. If he isn't able to collect the loans, the banker could get into a lot of hot water with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation."
"What can they do to the banker?"
"They can send a government regulator to look at his books."
"Does the regulator help the bank?"
"No, he is always sent in too late to do anybody any good."
"What can I play?"
"How about the lawyer? Everyone needs a lawyer to go into Chapter 11. It's a very good job because the lawyer's role is to keep the creditors from breaking his client's knees, and he gets paid first."
"I don't want to be a lawyer."
"Then you can be the spokesman for the company and explain to the media why management failed. You're allowed to blame it either on the unions or on the Japanese, whichever you are more comfortable with. The spokesman must assure the press that once the company gets its house in order, and its furniture moved around, everybody will be paid 105 cents on the dollar. This is, of course, a lie, but it is a job."
"I don't want to be a spokesman either."
"OK, so you can be the vice president of personnel and wear a bulletproof vest when you announce the layoff of 8,000 employees to show good faith with the bondholders."
"I'd like something more prestigious."
"Why not be the company's economist? The economist must produce models showing how the organization went into Chapter 11 and why oranges froze in California. By combining both models he hopes to win a Nobel Prize."
"I'd rather not go into Chapter 11 because people will think that I am a deadbeat."
"That used to be the case, but it isn't any more. Some of our most distinguished citizens, graduates of our leading business schools and members of the Fortune 500 have all taken a bath without any loss of standing in the community. To have your Jaguar towed away by the finance company is now considered a badge of honor.
"Could I play a creditor of the person who goes into Chapter 11?"
"What on earth for?"
"I want somebody to owe me - rather than me owe them."
"Can women go into Chapter 11?"
"Certainly. Chapter 11 is an equal-opportunity bankruptcy law. Let's start the game. Somebody borrow a million dollars from a bank . . . then refuse to pay it back . . . now the bank has to file for bankruptcy, which means that everyone must line up behind the police barricades and wait until the judge gives them a number."