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October 05, 2008

Opinion Requested

Back in May This American Life produced an entire episode about the housing bubble. This week they produced another episode reporting on what's going on now. The newer episode isn't online in its entirety yet. But ten minutes of it, discussing whether the current bailout is a good idea, is available here.

If you have a second, please listen to the ten minutes, and tell me this: do you think they did a good job explaining what's happening? Did you understand it? Even if you do, do you think other people would?

I ask because I really don't believe most people would understand what they're saying. Moreover, I think there's essentially no comprehensible explanation available anywhere. I'd guess there are perhaps a thousand people in the entire country who have any real understanding of how we got here, who's to blame, and what should happen next.

So I'm seriously considering writing a one-person (me) show about it. As I'm thinking about it now, it would just be me trying to be as funny as possible for ninety minutes about catastrophic financial collapse. The comedy of charts and graphs is a tough thing to pull off, but Italian performer Beppe Grillo has shown it can be done. It would take a while to get this up and running, but I think we're going to be mired in fallout from this for the next three years at least, and people are going to be furious about it for decades.

What do you think? Is anyone doing a good job helping people truly understand what's going on? And would the kind of show I'm talking about be worth doing?

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at October 5, 2008 12:30 PM

EVERYBODY I know and talk to describe the bailout in one word---robbery.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 5, 2008 01:13 PM

That's a good start. But do know they know anything beyond that? Because they really have to in order to get any of the money back and prevent the next heist.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 5, 2008 01:16 PM

I'd definitely come out and see it.

Posted by: Aaron Swartz at October 5, 2008 01:26 PM

it misses the larger point that the hugest real asset class -- housing stock -- has collapsed in value. as baker says, sort of, this isn't about the value of junk, it's about the value of collateral. toles today talks about this ongoing narrative limitation. kinda.

i don't really know how one explains a situation that honest, even foresightful experts are struggling to understand. roubini's emergency plan is REALLY hard to explain.

BTW i described dean baker as "pissed." i wonder if he'll be less so upon hearing of the "subtle language" for equity injection.

Posted by: hapa at October 5, 2008 01:44 PM

Any of you guys saw Dirty Harry?

The way I see it, it's basically what happens with Scorpio and the school bus full of cute kids. Scorpio's demanding the money and the plane, and the mayor's agreed. So Scorpio's on the bus, he has all them kids singing along with him, with the driver powerless to stop him. Then the fat chubby kid asks Scorpio: where are we going? Then Scorpio snaps. "Anyone doesn't wanna go can get off RIGHT HERE!" The kids panic as Scorpio keeps having them sing, "Row row row your boat..."

Cept this time, there was no Dirty Harry?

You feeling lucky, punk?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at October 5, 2008 01:48 PM


Thanks, I appreciate that. Also: please be aware that in your state blog comments serve as legally binding contracts.


Exactly. Both the first TAL episode and this one skate by the main problem. What I'd want to do is not dive into the complexity beyond any human's understanding, which TAL and most outlets do, and concentrate instead on the main point: $4-5 trillion in imaginary wealth has now evaporated...with more to come. Everything follows from that.

En Ming Hee,

I'd say it's like that, except the person talking the children hostage is actually Dirty Harry. Plus Dirty Harry is worth $3.7 billion, and was college roommates with Robert Rubin.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 5, 2008 02:05 PM

Jonathan Schwarz: NOBODY U know gets any money back, Yes, WE'll play an PAY again. Any bets?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 5, 2008 02:32 PM

... and it follows hard and fast because lessons learned from the long depression -- about firewalls, oversight, disclosure, recourse, conglomeration, agency, indebtedness -- were thrown aside.

Posted by: hapa at October 5, 2008 02:35 PM


If I were going to write a book about this, I might call it Right on Time. Just as soon as everyone is dead who had first hand experience with the conditions which led to the great depression, and the depression itself, along comes essentially the same thing.


I definitely will not sell people short. In particular, I think it's important to explain that it's really not that complex, and essentially anyone can understand the basic outline. (This is something I think TAL fails at.) Moreover, the reason it seems so complex is because the people conducting the theft want to make it seem that way, so they'll have enough time to make their getaway.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 5, 2008 02:42 PM

So, Jon, a comedy show, huh?

I may not be able to explain the Paulson clusterfuck, but I can summarize your comedy show idea:

300 million people lose lots and lots of money.
Jon benefits.

You're VERY selfish! But fiendishly clever....

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at October 5, 2008 02:43 PM

300 million people lose lots and lots of money. Jon benefits.

Believe me, I plan to be hitting this "joke" quite hard.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 5, 2008 02:45 PM

Damnit, I knew I should have looked up whether Massachusetts was a one-comment consent state.

Nonetheless, from your comments here the show sounds awesome and I'd love to do anything I can to help, including selling you some of my mortgage-backed hilarities at low, low prices.

Posted by: Aaron Swartz at October 5, 2008 02:54 PM

The problem here is that there are many different angles.

Bankers holding the economy hostage is only one of them, and I don't think it's a particularly enlightening one.

The Fed managing the so called 'economy' (speculative frenzy) by creating one bubble after another would be a different angle.

And then there is the story of the cyclical nature of capitalism and futile attempts of the US socio-political system to mitigate it, the reasons why these attempts seem to be doomed to failure. That's more interesting, but at thas point the details of this particular episode don't really matter.

Posted by: abb1 at October 5, 2008 03:02 PM

Aaron Swartz: selling you some of my mortgage-backed hilarities at low, low prices.

Actually, I'd prefer to buy them at a high, high price, because once they're part of my asset base I plan to use them to leverage up at 40-1.

So...don't bother telling any rating agencies about the actual content of the mortgages. In fact, to be on the safe side, don't mention this to anyone.


The Fed's need to create bubbles will figure prominently in this.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 5, 2008 03:05 PM

most fun is the deeper bubble of human footprint viz available planetary surplus.

Posted by: hapa at October 5, 2008 03:18 PM

I'd go see it!. I read a comment to a post Hilzoy wrote at Political Animal/Washington Monthly that helped me get my mind around the credit default swaps and the other derivatives better.

Thanks for the educational post. We are all (okay, not the Palin crowd) learning a lot more than we ever wanted to about the financial markets - and how we are screwed. A friend sent this e-mail to me and it might help throw some more light on our situation.

"Analogies are never perfect, but here's one using horse racing. Don't expect a perfect correspondence to the banking situation, but I think it is close enough for government work.
Joe goes to the track and bets $2 on a horse.

Two guys standing nearby get into a discussion and Fred says to Sam, "I'll bet you $5 that Joe wins his bet."
Next to them are Bill and Bob. Bill says: "I'll bet you $10 that Fred welshes on his bet if he loses."

Next to them is Sally. Sally says: "For $3 I'll guarantee to Bill that if Bob fails to pay off, I'll make good on the bet."

Sally then goes to Mary and borrows the $7 needed in case she has to ever pay off and promises to pay back $8. She doesn't expect to every have to pay since she believes Bob will always make good. So she expects to net $2 no matter what happens to Joe.

A quick calculation indicates that there is now 2+5+10+3+7 = $27 riding on the outcome of the horse race.

Question how much has been "invested" in the horse race?


$50,000 by the owner of the horse who is expecting to recoup his investment from the winnings of the horse and other future deals. Everyone else is gambling, not investing.

The issue with the home market is that the only "investor" was the person who bought the home. All those engaged in the meaningless derivatives spun off from this are gambling. You can see how quickly the face value of all these side bets can exceed the underlying investment. Who is holding these side bets - not the homeowner? It is the people at the failing investment banks, hedge funds and similar enterprises. Notice that the bailout is being directed at them not the homeowners.

The real world is, of course, even more complicated. Over the last 30 years people have been allowed to place bets on everything starting with the value of stock averages. They might as well bet on the temperature in Newark at 8:00 AM.

So when you hear everybody saying this is a crisis caused by the housing collapse, be skeptical. We are in the midst of a classic pyramid or Ponzi scheme and there is no way out except for people to lose a lot of money. All that is different this time is that it is the taxpayers who are being asked for the cash."

Posted by: JohnBubba on October 4, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe a simple analogy like the one above in your show. Because no, most people don't understand what the mess is, how we got there or how we can get out of it. All of our politicians have done a lousy job at educating us. So I guess it's up to the comedians to tell it like it is.

Posted by: Dee Loralei at October 5, 2008 03:29 PM

So when you hear everybody saying this is a crisis caused by the housing collapse, be skeptical.

Sure, complicated derivatives make it more difficult to realize that there is a problem and to assess the extent of it, but the underlying issue is still the housing bubble, without a doubt.

Posted by: abb1 at October 5, 2008 03:42 PM

EVERYBODY I know and talk to describe the bailout in one word---robbery.

The one friend who took issue with my pleas to pressure Congress to oppose the bailout holds an MBA and now works in real estate. In response to her stating she was not against the bill (even the original), I replied that the government was lying and causing a panic to coerce us into giving in to them. Her response was simply, "Don't go there."
I am happy to say I backed off - I am slowly learning to choose battles in which one can constructively engage people as opposed to ones with people who'll never be ready to hear the truth.

Posted by: bluestateleftist at October 5, 2008 04:22 PM


I think they are intentionally making it more complicated than it really is.

The banks got stuck with bad loans and the government is going to bail them out.

Simplicty. Simplicity.

Posted by: Paul Avery at October 5, 2008 04:23 PM

Mike Meyer: They not only ROBBED us but took us for a ride also!!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 5, 2008 04:28 PM

Having an economy with positive filters for greed and negative filters for honor and integrity, then everybody being shocked and dismayed when the thing goes to shit because of so much greed at its top end is sort of funny, in a kind of cold-hearted cynical way. Sort of like how crack whores are funny to people whose sisters or moms never were one.

Posted by: roy belmont at October 5, 2008 04:48 PM

Rupa Shah: Wish I could get off the bus here. The distance to the moon is "a really big number" and I'm thinking that my remaining years in a condo on the moon might be a better WASTE of my time.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 5, 2008 05:05 PM

Housing crisis ? Banks were STUCK with bad loans ? WTF !

Excess liquidity, excess leverage and lax regulation are the punchlines. I think it will take a Dick Gregory approach to pull this off. Can you do a Dick Gregory impression ?

You might start by refashioning his Nixon line:
"He's the kind of guy that if you were drowning 20 feet from shore, he'd throw you a 15 foot rope and he's got the people behind him to say he met you more than halfway". Short of Dick (had to do it) you may also consider "the producers" as inspiration, easily adaptable to this storyline.

And sorry but I did not even give TAL a chance, I just can't bring myself to have anything to do with NPR anymore.

Posted by: self at October 5, 2008 05:20 PM

To answer your question specifically, I think Ira Glass and Adam Davidson did a pretty good job of explaining the bailout fiasco. I think you should also stay tuned to Robert Reich and his blog for definitive details. Clearly, Stock-Injection is better then Paulson Prerogative, but that we had to settle for what congress did on Friday I doubt it. If you can do a 90-minute comedy routine about that you are truly amazing (and one of the reasons I check in with A Tiny Revolution almost every day).

Posted by: Grandpa Ken at October 5, 2008 05:28 PM

Mike Meyer: Make sure, NO ONE is following you to the moon to offer you a subprime mortgage loan for your condo on the moon. These guys are desperate!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 5, 2008 06:01 PM

I'm with Versen here. There should have been discussion of the profuse downside risks to this bailout. Buying the bad mortgages at whatever price Paulson picks out of the air just continues the paper ponzi scheme and draws out the correction by encouraging more of the same risky behavior (just google "pick-a-payment": judging by the bank ads these poisonous lending practices are still being practiced), and there's nothing at all in it to prevent housing deflation from overshooting, which will make the correction hurt that much worse.

Posted by: buermann at October 5, 2008 07:59 PM

I intend to download the whole show tomorrow, when it will be available. The earlier show, explaining how cranking out junk mortgages made a lot of money for people, was very well done (I put it on a CD for my dad and my uncle).

Credit default swaps were analogically explained by a Washington Post reader as being similar to fire insurance. To wit:

Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein was honored with the Pulitzer Prize
recently for commentary for his columns about mounting problems in the financial markets.
Pearlstein was online Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss financial regulation
reform and lessons from the current crisis.

A reader in Thoiry, France: I have, in an amateur manner, tried to explain to my wife the basic
principles of the $45 trillion credit defaults swaps market: Imagine that instead of going to a regulated insurance company we insure our house with a neighbor. We do this without knowing if our neighbor has sufficient funds to pay us if our house burns down. Our neighbor goes down to the local bar and (without telling us) sells the insurance contract to a stranger without making sure that he has funds to cover a fire in our house. Ten other people in the bar decide to get in on the action and sell and buy among themselves five contracts insuring our house against fire (i.e. making bets that our house will or will not burn down). In the end there are six insurance contracts on our house between people who do not know each other and who may or may not have funds to cover a fire. Imagine the mess if the house burns down...My wife does not believe that anyone would be this stupid. I claim that there are thousands of investment bankers and hedge fund managers with million dollar bonuses who are in fact this stupid. Is this correct? And what will happen when companies start to "burn down" in the coming

Steven Pearlstein: You have it precisely correct. I am laughing out loud at reading your comment
because I tried to do the same thing with my wife, using the same analogy, and she looked at me as if I was nuts. But it is important for everyone to understand this market, because it is a good metaphor for how we've run off the track. What started out as a legitimate hedging instrument, perhaps, has now morphed into an instrument not only of speculation but unfettered market manipulation (SEC, please note). Moreover, what you didn't explain to your wife is that these insurance contracts are then bought
and sold on secondary markets using large amounts of debt--debt that in many cases is given by the
very banks whose "house" was being insured. So you get investors who may be doubling down on their insurance bets by borrowing from the same banks, or from hedge funds that have borrowed from the same bank. That's why this is so complex, why it is so intertwined, and why nobody knows what would happen if one major institution fails, although we can surmise that the ripple effects would be significant and difficult to know in advance.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at October 5, 2008 08:17 PM

Counterpunch has a lot of interesting items regarding the bailout, including one visual you shouldn't miss. "The Real News" does too, but some of their videos are beginning to tip to the polemical a bit.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 5, 2008 09:25 PM

At 49:30-ish into the program they start discussing the alternative to the Paulson plan -- the stock injection option that you mention.

That sounds like a pretty good deal at this point and seems fairly easy to understand. I'm not understanding why that option is a bad idea and why the next administration couldn't exercise the stock injection plan. If there's enough groundswell for it, that is.

They may get the poison pill that Republicans tried to make them swallow, and give it back to them, rectally I'd hope.

As to if this is too complex for joe sixpack and if TAL explains it sufficiently -- well, having seen the grief that this country experienced at the death of Russert, I think some things are a bridge too far for the public at large. With this American public at least.

Posted by: Labiche at October 5, 2008 11:45 PM

Glenn Condell, good and informative post.

But this?

...The result is a system vulnerable to rogue feedback...

Is that what we have here? Rogue feedback?

Posted by: Labiche at October 6, 2008 12:15 AM


he actually says a bit later on 'The only real solution rests on redesigning the system itself, to enable it to become more tolerant of rogue feedback... '

I would say more tolerant of feedback, less tolerant of the rogues that caused it.

I do find stances like Robb's too reductive to be considered the whole story, but they are useful adjuncts to more mainstream analysis and help me form my own views. He for example never seems to include any moral judgement in his posts, and I think that in the end the amorality of the culture which bred this disaster will be one of it's salient characteristics. Still, that lack of moralising and hand-wringing clears space for novel ideas.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at October 6, 2008 12:43 AM

john robb and his black swans... good rockabilly band name...

this was about as much a rogue event as i am a tractor.

"i just don't understand why it exploded. we tested it for years in simulation, in the lab, in the real world. every system was tuned for optimal function and at no time did it perform otherwise. it's really baffling."

"what kind of device is it."

"a bomb. why do you ask?"

Posted by: hapa at October 6, 2008 04:00 AM

I consider myself better qualified to comment on this entry because, unlike the other respondors, I'm ignorant about economics. Your explanation was pretty good, but I lost my way before the end. "Mistuh Charley's" analogy of the house burning down is what did it for me--NOW I have a least a inkling of what got us into this: gambling, not investing. Of course, I have no more idea of how to get out than the politicians do.

Posted by: Rosemary Molloy at October 6, 2008 06:40 AM
...he actually says a bit later on 'The only real solution rests on redesigning the system itself,...

Well, sure -- redesigning the system is viewed as radical unless the changes are subtle, slow and benefit the ruling class.

On the subject of redesign, it strikes me that our socio-economic system is somewhat similar to institutions like GM -- having ample opportunity for reform over the years, they chose to piss it away for the benefit of short term in order to sell more SUVs and large trucks rather than positioning themselves for long term viability. And then, they have the gall to be shocked when the event occurs.

The housing bubble was precipitated by the legal viability of the instruments. If there was no market for crap, it wouldn't have accumulated and kept accumulating. But that market was meticulously designed to benefit the few who would walk away with the piles of cash over a longer period. We would have thought nothing wrong whatsoever with the whole process if the whole stinking mess hadn't collapsed under its own weight. While the going's good, we celebrate the results (just like in war).

I think the horse betting analogy further up is actually pretty good -- adding that when the unregulated side betting occurs is when the real problem occurs. The purpose of horse racing is betting. The only way that it is viable is when it is regulated through actual transactions that are supported by a controlling agency.

Posted by: Labiche at October 6, 2008 06:48 AM

I've listened to the analysis on NPR. They explain it well, to anyone who is in touch with current politics and knows some basic finance and economics.

To explain this to people who don't necessarily meet those requirements, I recommend The Crash Course by Chris Martenson, who did an excellent job at explaining the big picture, as well as the "Money as Debt" video (both available online). I use it for my Liberal Arts Math students, so you know it's accessible.

Posted by: weasel_word at October 6, 2008 07:59 AM

The GM analogy is good too, though I would braise it with a dash of Enron.

'But that market was meticulously designed to benefit the few who would walk away with the piles of cash over a longer period.'

On that conspiratorial note, xymphora takes it one step further and provides yet another angle:

'1. Wall Street investment houses were selling investments based on bundled sub-prime loans, while simultaneously gambling that the investments were junk;

2. The gambling was set up in such a way - using derivatives called Credit Default Swaps, essentially insurance policies against certain levels of default in the underlying mortgages (ironically, this 'insurance' was the reason that some of these securities were sold as 'blue chip investments') - that the same investment houses knew, because of their own speculative gambling behavior, would lead to a country- and world-wide financial disaster that could only be fixed by a government bail-out; and

3. The same investment houses, most notably Goldman Sachs, have been quietly staffing high American government finance positions with their own employees, who, if you can believe it, came up with a plan to deal with the problem by showering their own firms with gifts of American government money.

Of course, the fourth part of the conspiracy is that both American political parties work for the same mob of investment houses, and will pass whatever legislation they are told to pass, with the Democrats adding a bit of window dressing to prove they are not 'selling out to Wall Street.'

They say the ultimate goal of the ultra-conservative monster (neocons, X'n Zionists, plutocrats, free-market ideologues, the MI and the boondoggle community, Federalist Soc'y, American fascists generally) is the rollback of what remains of the New Deal and Great Society reforms. Wouldn't it be the richest irony of all if their efforts turn out to produce the only conditions - mass privation and despair - favourable enough to allow them to take root again?

I wish I could be optimistic enough to be able to believe that. But in a piece I think I found via this blog, Steve Fraser at Counterpunch pricks that particular balloon:

'Suddenly weak beyond compare, the Street was powerless to resist Franklin D. Roosevelt's regulatory state. In rapid succession came the Glass-Steagall banking act and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the two securities acts of 1933 and 1934, the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Public Utility Holding Company Act, and much more. When, in 1936, the President summoned the people to battle against the "economic royalists" everyone knew just who he was talking about.'

'Powerless to resist' more accurately describes the position of the Pelosis and Franks, and maybe the rest of us too, than it does Paulson and his silent constituency.

Posted by: Glenn Condell at October 6, 2008 08:00 AM

As others have pointed out, it is a rather complex topic. But one can get a fairly clear handle on most of the important fundamentals by reviewing some of the excellent, and clearly written recent articles by Michael Hudson and Mike Whitney. Here are some links to a couple of very good examples:

I would also recommend this superb, yet simple video production by Paul Grignon:

Posted by: Tony C. at October 6, 2008 09:40 AM

Not entirely on topic, but are you familiar with Rob't Newman's History of Oil? I mention it because it is a droll approach to a complicated subject, and I suspect you'd like it, if you are not already familiar w it.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 6, 2008 10:45 AM

are you familiar with Rob't Newman's History of Oil?

Definitely -- that's one of the reasons I think this could be done.

However, I'm angry at Robert Newman, because he once told a great story about Tony Blair on TV that I really wanted to be true but turned out wasn't.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 6, 2008 10:54 AM


I want to see your show. I have a couple of helpful suggestions - well, you will be the judge.

- Assertions in the script should be limited to verifiable facts from objective sources. It is very tempting to use satirical absurdities to make points, but that just isn't necessary these days.
- Think about doing it as "a two," as they used to say in vaudeville, teaming with a dead pan guy who sets you up for the gags with those facts.
- This is the new age of satire. If Swift and Pope are looking on from some celestial vantage point, they must envy the hell out of you. Maybe there is a point to be made referring to those guys in the wigs.
- While the saying goes that "Satire is what closes on Thursdays" I think you have hit on an exception. Some might urge you to hurry to production, that this financial crisis won't last forever, but I am not sure. You may be looking at a run that would make THE FANTASTIKS and RENT seem like summer stock.

Posted by: Ignatius at October 6, 2008 12:21 PM

"The Crash Course by Chris Martenson"

I sat through this after work today. It's pretty fun.

He uses the standard CPI to adjust the nominal dollar graphs of various economic data, right, and shows that we're at this exponential rabbit-starving crux of the curve where everything explodes to pot, end of the line. So far, so good. But then he argues (via that the CPI is much higher than reported and that GDP is much lower for the same reason (doubly so, for he argues that hedonics is used to deflate the one and inflate the other, and not vice-versa), but doesn't backtrack through the previous 15 presentations of exponential line graphs and adjust them with his new shadow CPI and GDP.

If he did, the housing bubble, the stock bubble, the ballooning national debt, and so forth would all look far more in line with historic norms than they do under the official CPI adjusted dollar terms. If inflation had been averaging the SGS Alternate CPI of 9% for the 10 years of the housing bubble, the bubble would be no different than past blips in real estate.

So we are offered in one synthesis what's really two contradictory possibilities: either life has been alright but there's a huge storm brewing and you better buy lots of potable water and duct tape and get ready for the End Times; or we've been eating shit sandwich with razor blade mayo for 30 years but at least we already know what it tastes like.

Posted by: buermann at October 7, 2008 05:26 AM

Words of wisdom from Mr Dean Baker

and absolute nonsense from Lehman CEO Richard Fuld for whom $300 million was NOT MUCH while the company was in a meltdown!!

ps the video has been removed but I watched the hearings on C-SPAN and it is worth watching if you want your blood to boil!
House Oversight Hearing on Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy (October 6, 2008)-Panel 2.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 7, 2008 10:37 AM

Forgot the money shot:

When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners, the Bush administration will not be judged favorably. The tale is still unfolding, but when the dust settles, it will be judged as a willing accomplice to the lenders who went to any lengths in their quest for profits. So willing, in fact, that it used the power of the federal government in an unprecedented assault on state legislatures, as well as on state attorneys general and anyone else on the side of consumers.

Posted by: Labiche at October 7, 2008 11:52 AM


I'm convinced that the government is trying to increase consumption spending by enraging us enough to throw heavy objects at the TV.

I could not agree with you more.

Also, at the same hearing in Panel 1 @35.00hr where five non-corporate experts were invited to give their opinion, Ms Nell Minow of Corporate Library Research Firm ( oversees how these fraudulent corporations function), mentioned that at a meeting, Paul Vocker said, HE did not understand "DERIVATIVES" and should not be offered ( of course, I hardly understand any of this mess ). This has been the biggest rip-off with the collusion of federal govt.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 7, 2008 12:58 PM

Citizen taking law in his own hand!!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 7, 2008 07:46 PM

This is SCARY!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 8, 2008 10:26 AM

Good catches Rupa.

I do wonder whether the guy that punched Fuld was a finance maven himself (it was in the Lehman gym after all), someone who victims further downstream might also consider rather punchable.

Things are hotting up. I saw some pretty astonishing disagreements, arguments really, on CNBC last night. Arguments which would only recently have been concluded with an 'agree to disagree' and a wry smile are now outlets for barely suppressed rages, or fears.

As for troops in the street, I guess anything is possible if banks can't pay wages or cash deposits. Wasn't there a story not long after 911 about some huge contract going to KBR to set up holding cell style accommodation somewhere out west for many thousands of people. They might end up coming in handy.

Interesting that Volker admitted not understanding derivatives. George Soros has admitted even he isn't au fait with the more abstruse applications. What hope do we have?

One piece I read in the last few days cheered me a little. It was the words of Michael E. Lewitt of Hegemony Capital Management (via James Wolcott):

'There is a point when free enterprise tips over into a degree of economic and social inequality that is politically unacceptable, and the United States has reached that point. HCM is well aware that its views on this topic genuinely anger many of its readers, but this is an issue that must be addressed as an essential component of any program that will return confidence to the financial system. Free market economic policies, in particular tax policies, have led to the creation of an American oligarchy whose wealth and power is excessive...

Unfortunately, compensation schemes did not take into account the fact that adding leverage is far different than adding value (i.e. compensation schemes were not properly risk-adjusted). As a result, compensation structures for these executives were largely asymmetrical, particularly with respect to the portion of their pay that was distributed in cash. Multimillion dollar cash payments for profits earned in a single year were not subject to being repaid if losses in later years wiped out those earlier profits. Too much cash exited these firms each year in the form of compensation, significantly weakening their capital bases...

Fairly taxing the upper 1/10 of 1 percent isn't going to plug the gaping U.S. budget deficit, but it will go a long way to returning a sense of fairness to a system that has lost its moral compass.'

And yet there was that idiot Steve Forbes on CNBC last night - guess what his panacea is? This will no doubt stun you - A giant tax cut! I kid you not. What a shock, eh?

Posted by: Glenn Condell at October 8, 2008 08:38 PM

I see where Nancy Pelosi (1-202-225-0100 that Nancy) sez she may call a session after Nov. 4 for another 150 billion. See this IS how I got played--- 3 months of maybe 4 sez I burnning up the 700 billion. But nay, NOW I sez, PLEASE don't call a special sesion BEFORE Nov. 4.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 8, 2008 09:05 PM

Glenn, I guess, Sen McCain is getting his coaching from Steve Forbes. In the debate, he kept talking about TAX CUTS, I do not know how many times, to CREATE JOBS!!!! I may not know economics but I do know how to add and subtract!

Mike Meyer, $700 billion is only the beginning ( as you say ) according to the experts I have been watching and listening to on C-SPAN. And Sen McCain wants HIS share for the programme he introduced at the debate.

I think the federal govt is ready for a revolt by the american people and has plans in place to control it, like a police state according to the
following interview. IT IS FRIGHTENING.
Mike Meyer, the CONSTITUTION is no more. and

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 8, 2008 09:49 PM

And this:

Please note the comparison bet the situation in Argentina in December 2001 and what is happening here now!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 8, 2008 10:44 PM

Rupa Shah: THE CONSTITUTION STILL IS ENFORCED. Yesterday I went to see the captain of the local police over a violation of my adult daughters constitutional rights. CONSTITUTION WON. The Captain seemd VERY much pro constitutional rights. (now I know this is just personal observance and unproveable but it proves to ME what I claim)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 9, 2008 12:46 PM

Mike Meyer: Yes, The little guys who enforce rule of law in local communities are still upholding the rights of people and that is our only hope. My comment was in relation to the THE POWERFUL that have destroyed our constitution. Of course, once out of office, they will have to face international laws. But meanwhile, they could create a police state as mentioned in the links above.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at October 9, 2008 02:36 PM

Rupa Shah: At the federal level I must agree. Unless contained, corruption spreads and may move this way but there are many willing to fight it.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 9, 2008 04:13 PM

Rupa Shah: Don't get me wrong, there are NO honest politicians here and the police will get away with what can, its just people around here will ask U what UR problem is if U step across their line.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at October 9, 2008 11:58 PM