Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One of Rich's Better Efforts

His column today in the NY Times. Here are a few paragraphs:
What gives our Great Recession its particular darkness — and gives ["Up in the Air"] its haunting afterlife — is the disconnect between the corporate culture that is dictating the firing and the rest of us. In the shorthand of the day, it’s the dichotomy between Wall Street and Main Street, though that oversimplifies the divide. This disconnect isn’t just about the huge gap in income between the financial sector and the rest of America. Nor is it just about the inequities of a government bailout that rescued the irresponsible bankers who helped crash the economy while shortchanging the innocent victims of their reckless gambles. What “Up in the Air” captures is less didactic. It makes palpable the cultural and even physical chasm that opened up between the two Americas for years before the financial collapse.

The private-equity deal makers who bought and sold once-solid companies like trading cards, saddling them with debt, never saw the workers whose jobs were shredded by their cunning games of financial looting. The geniuses in Washington and on Wall Street who invented junk mortgages and then bundled and sold them as securities didn’t live in the same neighborhoods as the mortgagees, small investors and retirees left holding the bag once the housing bubble burst.

Those at the top are separated from the consequences of their actions. They are exemplified by Robert Rubin, formerly of Citigroup and a mentor to both Obama’s Treasury secretary and chief economic adviser. He looked the other way when his bank made ruinous high-risk bets, and then cashed out and split, leaving taxpayers to pay for the wreckage while he escaped any accountability. Such economic wise men peer down at the country from a hermetically sealed bubble of privilege and self-interest, much as Ryan does from the plane flying him to his next mass firing. And they tend to think, as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs notoriously put it, that they are doing “God’s work” to sustain our free-market system.
I have been of the opinion for more than a year that those bastards should have been dragged down to Battery Park and given one of Dr. Guillotine's haircuts. They deserved no less.

The banks and Wall Street do fill a vital function. But in recent decades, much of what they have done is to engage in variations on "pump and dump" frauds. The mortgage market meltdown was largely due to the bankers and financiers creating an artificially energetic market for garbage securities. The various levels of financial guys, from the low-level mortgage brokers to the thieves who created collateralized mortgage securities all got paid commissions from arranging and finalizing the creation of those toxic securities, leaving the end investors and the property owners holding the bags. Because property values have declined, the owners of those homes can neither sell nor refinance them. The securities are worthless and are dragging down the investors who purchased them.

The middlemen, including Goldman Sachs, all made a shitload of money. They crashed the economy and they are still collecting huge bonuses. That they even have jobs now is due to the fact that we, the American people, acting through our government, bailed them out. But when you hear them talk, it seems as they all think that it was their business acumen, rather than taxpayer dollars, that made them able to not only keep their mansions, their weekend places in the Hamptons, and their damned jobs.

I think the better idea is to invest in pitchfork and tar futures. There may be a huge demand for them.


Lockwood said...

Whaddya mean? Didn't you hear? They're doing God's work. Which these days means, I guess, fleecing the masses, using their incredible power and wealth to amass more power and wealth, and living in an entirely other legal world.

I'm for drawing and quartering, myself. More of a disincentive for others eying the trade.

I agree with you on Rich... he's a real treasure, and almost the first thing I read most Sundays.

Don Brown said...

If 2007 was 1929, we're now (2009) in 1931.


"June 19 -In an attempt to stop the banking crisis in Central Europe from causing a worldwide financial meltdown, President Herbert Hoover issues the Hoover Moratorium."

"September 15 – Invergordon Mutiny: Strikes are called in the Royal Navy due to decreased salaries"

"Ongoing -- Rise of the Nazi Party"

This ain't over. Not by a long shot.

Don Brown

Anonymous said...

I think there's always a "cultural" gap between the monied & the rest of America, it's just more evident some times than others--& they always really, truly, believe that their interests are identical with those of the country & the world.