Cutting Through The Crap

Monday, January 30, 2012

More Lies From The Podium


RWS™ and R presidential candidates much prefer the lie that our financial meltdown was the fault of poor people. Never failing to defend Wall Street malfeasance, the crash was, they claim regularly, including in the latest debate, due to loans made under the Community Reinvestment Act. That this claim flies in the face of all the facts is not only not a problem for them, it's part of its beauty. For what is a teabaggR if not a person who loves lies when the truth doesn't fit?

From an interview with Francis Fukuyama on five books he recommends to learn about the financial crisis:

Let’s go on to your next book, which is highly readable and quite hard to put down: Michael Lewis’s The Big Short.

Michael Lewis is terrific both at picking topics and in his exposition. What I thought was most interesting about this book was that there is, to this day, a view about the whole pathology of collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) – these highly complex, packaged mortgage securities – as well as the credit default swaps – the insurance contracts written on those securities – that Wall Street created them and they simply got out of hand. They didn’t anticipate it would be hard to value them, how they would be misused, and so forth. What Michael Lewis points out very forcefully is that they were deliberately created by Wall Street banks in order to produce non-transparent securities that could not be adequately evaluated by the rating agencies, which then could be sold to less sophisticated investors, who would buy the idea that this junk debt actually had triple A ratings. So what this book does quite brilliantly is show that there was actually a high degree of intentionality in creating the crisis. The worst of all these securities are the so-called synthetic CDOs. A CDO is a bond that represents maybe a couple of thousand mortgages; a synthetic CDO is a group of hundreds of CDOs, all packaged into a single security. When you get to that level of complexity, no one can evaluate what this thing is worth. You can come up with sophisticated rationales for why this might actually follow some kind of market logic, but I think Lewis shows that the reason this happened is that they didn’t want anyone to be able to rate it.


Today's Republicans will always have the messaging advantage. (And, as we've seen, when they fear they might not, they'll censor it.) Reality is complicated, and understanding the world is hard work. Fact-based solutions don't fit on bumper stickers. So if your aim is to influence people to vote against their interest and for yours, and if you don't care whether what you say is true, and if you are assured your message will be repeated and amplified endlessly via your radio talkers and your Foxian falsifiers, you have a pretty sizable head-start.

Especially if you've successfully spent several seasons steadily softening the cerebri of your selectively sullied subjects.

2 comments:

Frank Drackman said...

Heck, if it wasnt for poor peoples borrowing money at 24%(per Month)I'd have to depend on my measely medical income...
And I tell ya, theres nothin like seein some sap pay $500 to get a $50 DVD player out of hock, smells like..
And my place is nice, taking $50 DVD players in the first place.
But takin advice from a Jap about financial affairs? Thats like takin weight loss advice from Michael Moore...
And complex business desls arent somethin new.. its like how it costs me more to cancel my useless landline than to keep it, or how General Tso's Chicken has nothing to do with General Tso.
It's like calling Coffee "General Eisenhower's Coffee" just cause Eisenhower used to drink coffee.

Frank

Anonymous said...

That doesn't sound like a wise investment.

There should have been a condition attached to the bailout: If you accept bailout cash from the US Govt, your firm is acknowledging that you are "Too Big To Fail", no longer considered solvent, and the US Govt will implement Anti-Trust laws to divide your "Too Big To Fail" firm into a "Small Enough To Fail" firm once the economy is deemed stable.

A market economy can't work if you capitalize gains but don't capitalize losses. The losers are both the taxpayers (stuck with the bill) and the firms that made responsible investing decisions (because they can't gain the market share when the other firms weren't allowed to fail) in this case.

Regards,
PT