People in the News

Credit crunch country singer Merle Hazard tackles Greece

July 22, 2010   Suzy Kenly Waite

Merle Hazard, a pen-name for Jon Shayne of Nashville investment advisor Shayne & Co., has attacked hedge funds, bailouts, and the Hamptons. His latest hit covers the Greek debt crisis. “It’s about balancing a budget,” he told AR.

Wolf Jackson, Merle Hazard
and Frances Cunningham
(Courtesy of John Shayne.
Photographer: Ann Shayne.)
Country singer Merle Hazard is back, but this time he’s not crooning about hedge funds or the Hamptons. His latest song is about (what else) the Greek debt crisis. Jon Shayne—Merle Hazard is a pen name in homage to country music legend Merle Haggard—joined forces with PBS NewHour to create a music video about Greek’s financial woes. The setting for his video? A full scale replica of the Parthenon in the Centennial Park in Nashville. (See the video here.)

Like Hazard’s other songs, the lyrics in "Greek Debt Crisis" are simple but true. "The budget problems of the Greeks are a European pain," he sings. "I hope it doesn’t spread to Portugal, Italy or Spain." And later in the song: "The IMF have applied their expertise to keep the European Union from crumbling just like feta cheese."

"It’s the first country song to have a Greek bouzouki in it," he joked, referring to mandolin-shaped instrument with a longer neck. "We’re just following the news." Shayne added that while the reaction has been mostly positive, not everyone sees the humor. "A few people thought that it had an anti-Greek bias," he said. "They didn’t realize that we had already raked Wall Street, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve over the coals."

"It has nothing to do with Greek culture," Shayne said on his song. "It’s about balancing a budget." A philosophy major at Harvard, he has a great deal of respect for the Greek philosophers. The opening of his song: "Oh yes, the Greeks gave us Pythagoras, and Euclid and Plato, and other wondrous stuff."

He began writing "Greek Debt Crisis" in late April and finished filming the video on May 20. The video was initially posted on on July 19. By July 22, it had been viewed 7,675 times. It is Shayne’s eighth song. Others include "In the Hamptons," "Old Time Recession," "Legal Tender," "Mark to Market," "Bailout," "Green with Envy," "H-E-D-G-E" and "Inflation or Deflation."

When he’s not singing about economic woes, Shayne is managing $130 million in Shayne & Co., an investment advisor in Nashville, running long-only separate accounts for wealthy individuals, foundations and endowments. From the firm’s founding in 1995 through 2009, Shayne has produced an annualized return of 10.2% using a mix of stocks, Treasuries and cash. Previously he worked at PaineWebber in New York as an analyst in the mergers and acquisitions department.

Like many of his songs, Shayne ends "Greek Debt Crisis" with a suggestion: "Some say Greece may drop the euro so their products can compete. And if that’s not enough maybe they can sell off Crete!"

—Suzy Kenly

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