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May 03, 2012

How Can You Prevent People From Expressing Their Feelings Toward Me?

This is from a recent New Republic article by Alec MacGillis about how the hedge fund industry has turned against Obama since 2008:

The former Democratic fund-raiser reminded me that masters of the universe rarely get much guff in their daily routine: “The guy at the top, the name on the door who raises all the money and makes the big decisions: How’s that guy treated? How many times does someone tell that guy that he might not be a good guy, that, you know, you’re kind of a dick? These guys are not used to getting dinged at all.”

For all the brashness and bravado that goes with their world, it seems the managers are oddly insecure about their purpose. For years, “most people in the financial service sector were viewed with enormous, out-of-the-box respect and adulation,” says [Bill] Daley. “These guys were on pedestals, and now that pedestal’s gone, and now, in a lot of people’s minds, the industry doesn’t have that glow, and that bothers them, and now they join that with the president and his theoretically bashing the wealthy. They’ve got to blame somebody, and they blame him...Former Official B told me, “Whether it’s [former Fed Chairman Paul] Volcker saying there’s been no financial innovation worth a shit since the ATM or the president saying his thing, they’re hypersensitive.” Former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank was more scathing: “They don’t just want us to represent their interest, they want to be told that what they do is very good. They want to be honored for what they do for society. And Obama has hurt their feelings. Raising their taxes is not simply a blow to their income. It is a blow to their psychic income, a failure to recognize the enormous good they do for the world.”

And this is from a 2002 article about Saddam Hussein:

Saad al-Bazzaz was summoned to meet with Saddam in 1989. He was then the editor of Baghdad's largest daily newspaper and the head of the ministry that oversees all of Iraq's TV and radio programming…

Saddam complained about an Egyptian comedy show that had been airing on one of the TV channels: "It is silly, and we shouldn't show it to our people." Al-Bazzaz made a note. Then Saddam brought up something else. It was the practice for poems and songs written in praise of him to be aired daily on TV. In recent weeks al-Bazzaz had urged his producers to be more selective. Most of the work was amateurish—ridiculous doggerel written by unskilled poets. His staff was happy to oblige. Paeans to the President were still aired every day, but not as many since al-Bazzaz had changed the policy.

"I understand," Saddam said, "that you are not allowing some of the songs that carry my name to be broadcast."

Al-Bazzaz was stunned, and suddenly frightened. "Mr. President," he said, "we still broadcast the songs, but I have stopped some of them because they are so poorly written. They are rubbish."

"Look," Saddam said, abruptly stern, "you are not a judge, Saad."

"Yes. I am not a judge."

"How can you prevent people from expressing their feelings toward me?"

Al-Bazzaz feared that he was going to be taken away and shot. He felt the blood drain from his face, and his heart pounded heavily. The editor said nothing. The pencil shook in his hand. Saddam had not even raised his voice.

"No, no, no. You are not the judge of these things," Saddam reiterated.

If you'd like to believe that I'm not just comparing hedge fund guys to Saddam Hussein, but am also comparing Obama to Saad al-Bazzaz, that's up to you.

—Jon Schwarz

Posted at May 3, 2012 10:14 AM

I hope you're not comparing Obama to Saad ala-Bazzaz, Jon. He's an avid defender of the hedge fund managers, standing with them against us; he plays golf with them. He doesn't help them because he's afraid of them, he helps them because, like all good Americans, he doesn't begrudge anybody making lots and lots of money.

Posted by: Duncan at May 3, 2012 12:07 PM

Well, I left out the part of the article where it talked about how much Saad al-Bazzaz had admired Saddam.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 3, 2012 12:40 PM

i don't get this post- are you saying that the hedge managers can have obama taken away and shot?? (...cue the Oliver Stone music)

Posted by: frankenduf at May 3, 2012 01:28 PM

No frankenduf, he's not saying they could have Obama shot, but he is saying that they could end his political career as easily as they started it. And I'm sure that causes Obama's heartrate to quicken.

Posted by: Walter Glass at May 3, 2012 04:00 PM

1) Hedge fund guys : Saddam Hussein :: Obama : Saad al-Bazzazz

2) ???

3) Profit!

Posted by: Freddy el Desfibradddor at May 3, 2012 05:32 PM

I think they could have Obama taken away and shot.

Posted by: saurabh at May 3, 2012 07:39 PM

saurabh: AGREED, after all it is America and he is black. (Article I sec.2 US Constitution)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 3, 2012 08:07 PM

As the few people doing actual investigative work on the GFC have shown quite thoroughly, the true source of much of Wall Street's success over the last two decades has not been "innovation" or good management, but mundane, b-flat fraud. The people at the top -the Hedge Fund managers, the Bank CEOs- were perfectly aware of this. I suspect that more than a little bit of the defensiveness comes from that. They know that what they were doing was criminal, they spent 20 years laughing not only about how they were getting away with it but how they were being praised for getting away with it, and now that the music has stopped and the whole rotten edifice has collapsed the last thing they want to see is people calling them what they deep down know themselves to be.

Posted by: Heron at May 4, 2012 08:56 AM

Interesting letter that is apropos of the hedge fund situation:

Dear Clients, Industry Colleagues and Friends of Barnhardt Capital Management,

It is with regret and unflinching moral certainty that I announce that Barnhardt Capital Management has ceased operations. After six years of operating as an independent introducing brokerage, and eight years of employment as a broker before that, I found myself, this morning, for the first time since I was 20 years old, watching the futures and options markets open not as a participant, but as a mere spectator.

The reason for my decision to pull the plug was excruciatingly simple: I could no longer tell my clients that their monies and positions were safe in the futures and options markets – because they are not. And this goes not just for my clients, but for every futures and options account in the United States. The entire system has been utterly destroyed by the MF Global collapse. Given this sad reality, I could not in good conscience take one more step as a commodity broker, soliciting trades that I knew were unsafe or holding funds that I knew to be in jeopardy.

The futures markets are very highly-leveraged and thus require an exceptionally firm base upon which to function. That base was the sacrosanct segregation of customer funds from clearing firm capital, with additional emergency financial backing provided by the exchanges themselves. Up until a few weeks ago, that base existed, and had worked flawlessly. Firms came and went, with some imploding in spectacular fashion. Whenever a firm failure happened, the customer funds were intact and the exchanges would step in to backstop everything and keep customers 100% liquid – even as their clearing firm collapsed and was quickly replaced by another firm within the system.

Everything changed just a few short weeks ago. A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. Let’s not sugar-coat this or make this crime seem “complex” and “abstract” by drowning ourselves in six-dollar words and uber-technical jargon. Jon Corzine STOLE the customer cash at MF Global. Knowing Jon Corzine, and knowing the abject lawlessness and contempt for humanity of the Marxist Obama regime and its cronies, this is not really a surprise. What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. No informed person can continue to engage these markets, and no moral person can continue to broker or facilitate customer engagement in what is now a massive game of Russian Roulette.

I have learned over the last week that MF Global is almost certainly the mere tip of the iceberg. There is massive industry-wide exposure to European sovereign junk debt. While other firms may not be as heavily leveraged as Corzine had MFG leveraged, and it is now thought that MFG’s leverage may have been in excess of 100:1, they are still suicidally leveraged and will likely stand massive, unmeetable collateral calls in the coming days and weeks as Europe inevitably collapses. I now suspect that the reason the Chicago Mercantile Exchange did not immediately step in to backstop the MFG implosion was because they knew and know that if they backstopped MFG, they would then be expected to backstop all of the other firms in the system when the failures began to cascade – and there simply isn’t that much money in the entire system. In short, the problem is a SYSTEMIC problem, not merely isolated to one firm...

...And so, to the very unpleasant crux of the matter. The futures and options markets are no longer viable. It is my recommendation that ALL customers withdraw from all of the markets as soon as possible so that they have the best chance of protecting themselves and their equity. The system is no longer functioning with integrity and is suicidally risk-laden. The rule of law is non-existent, instead replaced with godless, criminal political cronyism...

With Best Regards-
Ann Barnhardt

Posted by: Elise Mattu at May 5, 2012 03:32 PM

I forgot to mention the time line of the letter I posted above - it was posted to clients about a year ago, May 2011.

Posted by: Elise Mattu at May 5, 2012 03:35 PM

Marxist Obama regime---Love it. No doubt Obama is 100% for the proletariat workers and hates the rich capitalist. Its why he keeps feeding Goldman-Sachs and AIG EVERY red cent he can drag out of the Treasury AND backs the ideology of the catfood commission. Its why Justice isn't prosecuting Joe Corzine, Jimmy Dimon, etc., etc. Its ALL for the workers good. (and world revolution, of course)

IMHO Ann B. should have gone ahead and fucked the investors just like Joe. FREE MONEY---NO CONSEQUENCES. Could have saved on sending out THAT embarassing letter.(and Obama would STILL love her)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 5, 2012 05:36 PM

Marxist Obama regime---Love it. No doubt Obama is 100% for the proletariat workers and hates the rich capitalist. Its why he keeps feeding Goldman-Sachs and AIG EVERY red cent he can drag out of the Treasury AND backs the ideology of the catfood commission. Its why Justice isn't prosecuting Joe Corzine, Jimmy Dimon, etc., etc. Its ALL for the workers good. (and world revolution, of course)

IMHO Ann B. should have gone ahead and fucked the investors just like Joe. FREE MONEY---NO CONSEQUENCES. Could have saved on sending out THAT embarassing letter.(and Obama would STILL love her)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 5, 2012 05:36 PM

I'm struck by how upset the banksters still are about the lone negative comment Obama made about them three years ago for which he almost immediately apologized.

Posted by: buermann at May 5, 2012 06:20 PM

When the "Way More Rich Than YOU" rob ya blind "an ya can't do nuthin' about it" then BLAME the 1) poor, 2) communists, 3) socialists, 4) marxists, OR 5) somebody working for YOU.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 6, 2012 02:12 PM

It's notable that its the anniversary of stories on Jon Corzine. It's probably the worst way to look at things (think about the failure of Thanksgiving to prevent genocide). I suspect that delusions are especially tempting around anniversaries, when our previous experiences -- in their entirety -- are replayed subconsciously.

So easy on Ms. Barnhardt. Nobody can escape cryptomnesiatic delusions without a lot of personal insight. Freud believed in cursed numbers against his better judgement because of emotions surrounding the time he got a new phone number. The last two numbers of those digits were his predicted death year, and confirmation bias complimented this. He kind of overcompensated by expelling Carl Jung from the psychological society.

Posted by: Lewis at May 7, 2012 09:57 PM