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From: Your man in Washington
Re: Embracing the status quo
Our earnings are robust, our compensation has returned to its naturally high levels and, as a result, we have very nearly regained our grip on the imaginations of the most ambitious students at the finest universities — and from that single fact many desirable outcomes follow.
Thus, we have almost fully recovered from what we have agreed to call The Great Misfortune. In the next few weeks, however, ill-informed senators will meet with ill-paid representatives to reconcile their ill-conceived financial reform bills. This process cannot and should not be stopped. The American people require at least the illusion of change. But it can be rendered harmless to our interests.
To this point, we have succeeded in keeping the public focused on the single issue that will have very little effect on how we do business: the quest to prevent taxpayer money from ever again being used to (as they put it) “bail out Wall Street.”
As we know, we never needed their money in the first place, and by the time we need it again, we’ll be long gone. If we can keep the public, and its putative representatives, fixated on the question of whether their bill does, or does not, ensure there will be no more bailouts, we may entirely avoid a discussion of our relationship to the broader society.
Working together as a team we have already suppressed debate on many dangerous ideas: that those of us deemed too big to fail are too big and should be broken up, for instance, or that credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations and other financial inventions should simply be banned. We are now at leisure to address the few remaining threats to our way of life. To wit:
- Washington will attempt to limit our ability to exploit the idiocy of institutional investors a k a our “customers.” The Senate appears intent on forcing our most lucrative derivatives business onto open exchanges, where investors can, for the first time, observe the prices we give them. This measure — which I’ve come to call the “Making the World Safe for Germans With Money Act” — will prove difficult to defeat. Our public strategy here, as elsewhere, must be to complicate the issue.
To the mere mention of open, public exchanges for derivatives, you should always respond, “That will destroy liquidity in these fragile and complex markets.” Most people don’t even know what “liquidity” means, or what causes it or why they actually need to have more rather than less of it — or what, even, the point is of a market that requires privacy to operate. They will assume that you must understand it better than they do. For that reason alone it is useful.
The other point you should make to our elected officials (privately, please) is that our profits function as a fixed point in an uncertain universe. If they curtail our ability to shaft German investors in one way, we will simply find some other way to do it.
Shockingly, the Senate version of the bill more or less would require us to cease to trade derivatives entirely. This unpleasant idea was introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and it leads me to a point that is worth underscoring: We do not have a problem with the American people, we have a problem with American women. Elizabeth Warren, our TARP supervisor, continues to ask questions about what we did with our government money; Mary Schapiro has used her authority at the S.E.C. to sue Goldman Sachs. Of the four Republican senators who crossed over to vote with the Democrats, two were women — and one of the guys posed naked for Cosmopolitan magazine.
Going forward, we should discourage women from seeking higher office — or indeed, any position in which they might exert influence over our activities. More immediately, in your private conversations with Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and male Republican senators, you should simply refer to Blanche Lincoln as “unhinged.” They’ll get it.
- Our slow cousins at Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s are likely to suffer a blow to their already lowly status. They are virtually certain to be stripped of their designation as Nationally Recognized Statistical Ratings Organizations. Whatever that means, it presents no threat to our way of life. Just the reverse: the more miserable it is to work at Moody’s, the less capable (and more manipulable) Moody’s employees will be.
The lone remaining risk to the status quo is the Franken amendment — introduced by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota — which would prevent us from personally selecting the ratings agencies that offer opinions on our offerings. It creates a board inside the Securities and Exchange Commission to assign ratings agencies, thereby removing the direct incentive the raters have to please us. (Of course, it preserves their indirect incentive: that is, that we might one day offer them jobs.)
The Franken amendment thus gums up what has been heretofore a very cleanly rigged system. In addition to encouraging public references to Stuart Smalley and Mr. Franken’s other theatrical embarrassments, we should remind our friends on Capitol Hill and in the press that “the Franken amendment will give the federal government the same control over finance it has seized in health care.”
- There is a slight, but real, risk that public opinion will yank us in some unexpected direction. Over the past few months, a curious pattern has emerged: the more open the debate, the more radical the outcome.
In private, reasonable discussions we were able to persuade our friends in the Senate to prevent votes on amendments hostile to our interests — the worst of which, I might add, was dreamed up by yet another female senator. But the minute a vote was held, and senators sensed the cameras watching, even our friends abandoned us to the mob. All of these people are continually engaged in the same mental calculation: are the votes I might gain with this remark or this idea or this position greater than the votes I can buy with the money given to me by Wall Street firms? With each uptick in the level of public scrutiny — with every minute of televised debate — our money means less.
In the short term, we must do whatever we can to dissuade Representative Barney Frank from allowing any part of these discussions between senators and representatives to be televised. In the longer term we must return to the shadows. Do your work in private; allow your money to speak for you; and remember, the only way we’ll get the financial reform we need is if we pay for it. No one else can afford it.
Michael Lewis, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, is the author, most recently, of “The Big Short.”
05/30/2010 | zero hedge
...In the next few weeks, however, ill-informed senators will meet with ill-paid representatives to reconcile their ill-conceived financial reform bills. This process cannot and should not be stopped. The American people require at least the illusion of change. But it can be rendered harmless to our interests.
...and remember, the only way we’ll get the financial reform we need is if we pay for it. No one else can afford it.
Bread and Circuses Live!
Circuses for the public
Bread for the bankers
Regulatory Reform is Neither.
No Changes to the Wall Street Business Model.
Maintain the Diversions, Men!
So Who Gives a Shit.
What a Great Fuckin' Country.
Ponzi schemin, coast to coast,
Easy stealin money everywhere
Feelin the transcontinental debt load,
Just get behind the Federal handout deal
How does it feel
When there's no fraudulent innovation - that goes too far
And somewhere on the way,
you might find out how freakin rich you are
Banking in America - pies in the sky, bubble elation
Banking in America - your hand to their hands, the bailout nation
Banking in America - can we have just one defenestration?
James Brown and WilliamBanzai7
May 28, 2010 | Miami Herald
One man’s depiction of why, despite the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, things might not change much given the current working relationship between Big Oil and Washington.
From the Jim Morin collection at the Miami Herald. >
[May 30, 2010] Economist's View
[via Information Processing]
A Gulf Coast official accused BP of shipping workers into Grand Isle, Louisiana, for President Barack Obama's visit to the oil-stricken area Friday and sending them away once the president left the region.
Early Friday morning, "a number of buses brought in approximately 300 to 400 workers that had been recruited all week," Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts told CNN's "Situation Room."
Roberts said the workers were offered $12 an hour to come out to the scene at Grand Isle and work in what he called a "dog and pony show."
But, when Obama departed, so did the workers, he said, adding that he's never seen more than 20 workers at the Grand Isle cleanup site since the effort started.
May 29th, 2010 | The Big Picture
Jim Morin of the Miami Herald:
Hat tip Mike R
May 29, 2010 | Calculated Risk
Just for fun ... in 1926, economist George Taylor suggested the "Hemline Index"; he observed that hemlines moved with stock prices.
And from the NY Times: A Long, Lean Backlash to the Mini. Here is the hot new look:
Does that mean stocks are at a bottom, or that stocks are about to crash?
Some of the most serious fallacies of traditional economics have been due to confusion between optimum and equilibrium conditions; the apparent influence of Dr. Pangloss upon the development of economic thought is for the most part nothing but pure intellectual error.
—J. R. Hicks, "The rehabilitation of consumers' surplus,"
Review of Economic Studies 8(2),
February 1941, pp. 108-116, footnote 1, p. 112.
By L. Randall Wray, a Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who writes at New Economic Perspectives
WASHINGTON, 7 NOVEMBER 2017*. Yesterday Speaker of the House Dennis Kucinich was sworn in as President, replacing President Jeb Bush, who had fled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, aboard Air Force One seeking asylum in his father’s well guarded compound on the grounds of the Bin Laden family’s palace. Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been in a coma since August after suffering his fifteenth heart attack, was declared incompetent. President Kucinich immediately announced a wide-ranging package of policies designed to bring an end to the Great Depression, which began with the global financial crisis of 2007. He called for calm and pleaded with leaders of the Revolutionary Tea Party Army that has encircled Washington to call off the attack that had been planned for today, the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution. Commandant Dick Armey said he is willing to meet for a discussion of a ceasefire so long as his militia can take their weapons home.
President Kucinich apparently ordered the Marines to invade Goldman Sachs headquarters in Manhattan early this morning. While there were some reports of small arms fire, most of the 6000 employees were reportedly removed without struggle and are on their way to various jails and prisons in the greater New York area. CEO Timothy Geithner was captured at La Guardia, attempting to board a private jet said to be headed for Riyadh. An anonymous source claimed that Geithner complained that President Bush had left him behind after promising protection. President Kucinich announced that Geithner would be charged with fraud, racketeering, and tax evasion. The case dates back to 2012 but had been put on hold when former President Sarah Palin ordered the attorney general’s office to stop its investigation of the Treasury Secretary. President Kucinich said that Goldman, the last remaining bank in America, would be nationalized. He assured depositors that the bank would reopen next Monday under management of a team of presidential appointees led by William Black. All insured deposits will be protected, but it is believed that other claims will not be honored. FBI agents have reportedly moved to seize all assets of current and former Goldman employees. Warrants for the arrest of former Treasury Secretaries Paulson, Rubin, and Summers were also issued.AmeriKKKan:
Not even Americans, the most vile and stupid people on earth, are demented enough to elect on other Bush. Surely not. Although they didn’t really elect the first one either I guess.
Why does it not surprise me to find you here, still hawking mythologies that were debunked following the last great depression?
In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
Oh, Lord. This is what happens when you let Economics Professors drop acid. Please, keep it within the English Departments.
I have to go clean my brain out now by reading some Aldous Huxley.
Why hide away? This is the ‘Brave New World’.
Thank you! Thank you, Mr. Market, for finally coming to your senses. It’s about time that you kicked your ecstasy habit
It seems that Obama has studied FDR intently, but not to imitate him. Quite the opposite, he may have looked for ways how the bankers – his financiers – can get away with it this time.
In short, he was looking for what not to do.
The Big PictureFrom (who else?) The Onion:
“Securities and Exchange Commission officials are calling it the strictest regulatory reform since the Great Depression: CEOs of major financial institutions will now be required to humbly shrug and smile sheepishly before accepting huge salary bonuses.
The new regulation, SEC rule 206(b)-7, will reportedly target Wall Street executives who accept disgustingly bloated annual payouts, forcing them to raise and then lower their shoulders in a manner that conveys a mild degree of humility or a sense of “Aw, shucks. Who? Me?”
“This sweeping new reform sends a clear message to fat-cat CEOs at firms like Goldman Sachs and AIG,” SEC chair Mary Schapiro said Monday. “Never again will they be able to receive massive bonuses unless, at a minimum, they flash a gee-I-don’t-think-I-should expression and say something like ‘Well, all right, but only if you insist’ first.”
“Mark my words,” she continued, “The days of greedy, out-of-touch executives pocketing outrageous $40 million bonuses without acting slightly embarrassed about it are over.”
The crackdown comes on the heels of Wall Street’s 2010 bonus season, during which not one executive was observed to look at the floor meekly, sink his hands into his pockets, or dig his right toe awkwardly into the ground before taking his cut of the estimated $55 billion in payouts.”
-New Law Forces CEOs To Humbly Shrug Before Receiving Massive Bonuses
- The rise of credit default swaps attracts the following comment: “It’s as if people had used the invention of seat belts as an opportunity to take up drunk driving.”
- As Andy Serwer, Managing Editor of Fortune put it: “The party is over until it comes back again…I’ve been around long enough to see that we have these cycles. These guys get their cigars and champagne. They have a great time. The whole thing blows up. But then they re-emerge years later
- the only truism about bankers and traders is that along with cockroaches and rates they would be the survivors of a nuclear explosion.
- As Frederick Neitzche wrote: “To trace something unknown back to something known is alleviating, soothing, gratifying and gives moreover a feeling of power. Danger, disquiet, anxiety attend the unknown — the first instinct is to eliminate these distressing states. First principle: any explanation is better than none…”
- A book two years from now about how Obama (along with Bernanke, Geithner and Summers) made Herbert Hoover look like a genius, will be a book three years too late.
March 10, 2010 | Outside The (Cardboard) Box
...following her recent appearance on Canada’s Business News Network with Reuters columnist Felix Salmon, it occurred to us that Ms. Smith’s pearls of wisdom may occasionally be undecipherable to those who have not worked extensively in finance, government policy nor are graduate students in economics. For example, in the 13 minute BNN interview, Ms. Smith uses the word ‘paradigm’ no less than three times. That’s some weighty verbiage! So as part of our Cardboard Translations Series, we are pleased to bring you the OTCB “Common English Conversion” for Yves Smith.
...For our part, OTCB will provide an original statement from the interview made by Ms. Smith followed by our precise interpretation.
Yves Smith: The focus initially is on the Economists….and the argument is that the Crisis is actually rooted in bad economic theory.
Translation: Milton Friedman was a shill. They have been feeding us bullshit since this started in the 70s. It became a massively bigger pile of bullshit in the Reagan years. We are now at the pinnacle of the Himalayas of bullshit. Domestically speaking, we’re at the summit of the Mount freakin’ McKinley of bullshit.
... ... ...
Yves Smith: By contrast, if you assume stability, that means that all you have to worry about is efficiency. And all the moves that we have had, that have had the effect of increasing efficiency, have increased riskiness.
Translation: They buried us in bullshit, took all of our money, pissed on us and then turned on a ginormous fan. It’s an unbelievable mess, it’s still blowing and we’re too broke to clean it up.
Yves Smith: People now are becoming increasingly aware of the fact of how much the Obama team, not just philosophically but from a practical standpoint, is hostage to the financial services industry.
Translation: For the first time in history, B.O. and B.S. are synonymous.
Yves Smith: Well the notion that you’ve got a group that has so much influence over policy and yet they’ve wrapped it in a scientific mantle which makes it immune to criticism by normal people…..
Translation: It’s all a bunch of bullshit. And then they wrapped it and put it over your fireplace.
(Editor’s note – we’re not sure if we’ve got this translation quite right. Sometimes even we struggle over some of the brilliant utterances emanating from Ms. Smith. But we are positive about the ‘bullshit’ part.)
Yves Smith: We’ve basically run-out a paradigm that couldn’t last forever……. in fact it was a paradigm that was inherently self-limiting.”
Translation: The party is officially over. Welcome to future generations spent deeply immersed in bullshit soup.
(Editor’s note – observe the double-pump use of ‘paradigm’ in the passage. AWESOME!)
Yves Smith: You’ve got to look at the frame that we’ve had from the 1930s onward.
Translation: They got it right after the ‘30s. We’ve got it wrong. This is some serious bullshit.
Yves Smith: The belief we’ve had in deregulation, and you can argue its benefits to the goods markets, that’s a, that’s a different kettle of fish, but in financial markets its led to increased concentration, because markets have strong network effects, and, uh, the, and, uh also a shift in the structure of the industry away from businesses that had a very safe fee income to ones that are increasingly dominated by trading.
Translation: Felix, in answer to your point, let me say the following: bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit and bullshit. Now let’s go have some fish, split a couple bottles of vino and talk about the goods markets. You’ve got the goods. And I’ve got your market r i g h t h e r e….
...not since the Qing Dynasty moved to block imports of opium has the British press has been so apoplectic about moves by foreign governments to protect themselves from Anglo-Saxon market vultures. Kevin de Bruxelles
Yearning to Learn:
My favorite quotes:
-"Why is everybody selling the Euro to buy the US Dollar?"
-"Because the American Economy is so much stronger than the European Economy"
-"Why is that?"
-"Because it's owned by China!"
Since when has labeling anything you disagree with “Socialism” a substitute for poltiical discourse? We embarrass ourselves as a nation to the rest of the world when we do this.
Bill Gates’s Dad Says the Rich ‘Aren’t Paying Enough’ in Taxes
FOMC meeting minutes:
"Fundamentals of economy were looking very good until 10am.
Fundamentals of economy took a significant turn for the worse from 10am till noon.
Fundamentals of the economy having been looking choppy from noon onwards.
Fundamentals of economy are expected to look significantly better in the next half hour."
real estate check:noob goldberg:
"The housing market appeared to have stalled"
The only thing that stalled was the correction downward.
Rob Dawg wrote:
I get a kick out of how the 'O' in FOMC is supposed to mean 'open."
I thought Greenspan showed it meant 'obfuscation'. I've always thought it meant 'obtuse'.
sociopathic Mentats free from the usual constraints of human morality or instinctual considerations
So, they had bankers in Dune, too?
I wanna tell you about Wall*Street and the Big Beat
Comes out of the Goldman swamps
Cool and slow with plenty of precision
With a back beat narrow and hard to master
Some call it heavenly in it's brilliance
Others, mean and ruthful of the American Dream
I love the fiends that have gathered together on this thin raft
They have constructed financial pyramids in honor of their escaping
This is the land where capitalism died
The nests of the traders in the green-felt jungle are brightly feathered
They're saying forget wrong and right
Live with us in forests of cash, for sure
Out here on the perimeter there are no scars
Out here we is atoned for bad loans - immaculate.
Listen to this, and I'll tell you 'bout the heartache
I'll tell you 'bout the heartache and the loss of law
I'll tell you 'bout the hopeless fight
The meager pay for souls forgot
I'll tell you 'bout the Unabankers without a soul
I'll tell you this
No eternal reward will forgive them now for wasting the pawns
I'll tell you 'bout Wall*Street and the Big Beat
Soft drivin', slow and mad, like some new language
Now, listen to this, and I'll tell you 'bout the Wall*Street beat
I'll tell you 'bout the Texas ratios
I'll tell you 'bout the hopeless fight
Wondering 'bout the the American Dream
Tell you 'bout the industry without a soul
YouTube - The Doors - The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)
If Germany’s new measures to hamper speculation in European markets were meant to surprise, they succeeded. Just not quite in the fashion officials in Berlin might have intended.
...European officials, caught off guard, were criticizing Germany’s unilateral action — something Mrs. Merkel herself had said just a few days ago would be ineffective in a global market.
...remarkable exchange between longtime Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and talk radio host Laura Ingraham, during which the guy who’s been a Senator longer than I’ve been alive tries to somehow deny being part of Washington:
HATCH: Yeah, I do. And I’ll tell you why because I listen to these folks, I don’t disagree with them. They’re angry for good reasons. I mean, my gosh, these people in Washington are running this country right into the ground. And I think people are dog-gone angry about it.
INGRAHAM: But aren’t you part of Washington?
HATCH: Hell no. I’ve never been. I’ve never considered this a job. I’ve had, people have asked me, they said, “say Senator Hatch, don’t you just love being a U.S. senator?” My constant answer is this. No, I don’t love it at all, but I’m good at it. And I’m here for a reason. And all I can say is I’ve never changed my reason. Now, I am fair. I’ve got a reputation for being fair and honest and decent. But the fact of the matter is, if you get Orrin Hatch on your side and he really gets, he really gets his back up, watch out. It’s just that simple and I’ve done it time after time after time.
My question is why would you want to continue being a US Senator if you hated it? It’s not like Orrin Hatch is a young guy. He could comfortably retire with his generous gov’t pension and benefits and do something he really loves. You only live once. What would possess a person to toil at something they so hated for so long?
He does it for us. So, we will have one Senator that is one of us, not a corrupt Washington-insider. We should all be grateful.
“Washington? Why, son, I don’t even know what Washington looks like? Where is it again?
Amazing, Hatch is the Platonic philosopher-senator: he’d much rather be doing something else, but out of civic duty and love of justice, he does what he’s good at! Now if only we’d have taken his children away to raise communally….
Andrew Jackson"s re-election campaign promise: (Approx.)
If re-elected I will kill The Bank, The Federal Reserve type banking cartel of his day.
He did kill the Bank.
Today, the Bank will kill you.
May 15, 2010 | naked capitalism
In a Libetarian sense, the spill never happened……..
It is the responsibility of the fishes to maintain a nest egg for black swan events such as this one.
black swan indeed, and oily.
Libertarian = Delusions of hypermasculinity or delusional hypermasculinity, or something along those lines. Let the gladiators duke it out, of course, to the death.
The oil gusher in the Gulf? Well, that’s unfortunate. But, hey, it has provided unique opportunity and incentive for America’s brightest minds to invent and patent new technologies in the oil spill field — an economic niche for an upstart entrepreneur, and that’s always a good thing.
Off the web, I forget where.
Paraphrasing here: Don’t bail out or help the creatures of the Gulf, they will only get fat and lazy, requiring endless welfare.
The proper Libertarian response is to blame Obama,
Pray to Jesus, and rant about taxes.
...“I’m a libertarian which means I’m a Republican who smokes dope.” LOL.
“In a truly libertarian world, the oil spill never would have happened because a truly free market would have ensured total safety of all aspects of drilling operations. Nor would anything else that is bad happen in any economic sector. Even death would be cured, if only the government would get off the backs of doctors and research scientists.
Neither death nor taxes is inevitable, contrary to the speculations of weaker and less imaginative minds. This is all obvious to anyone who truly understands the limits imposed by government on personal initiative.”
from “Government as the Anti-Christ”
Chapter 17 – Externalities and Evil
Libertarian Foundation for the Promotion of Social Sanity
I have little to add about what the libertarian response should be, but I will share one of the best summaries of libertarianism ever to be written on a blog.
“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
-John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey
A little Friday evening humor from Jon Stewart at the Daily Show: Hoarders
Posted by CalculatedRisk on 5/14/2010 09:28:00 PM 162 Comments
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c Hoarders www.thedailyshow.com
Juvenal Delinquent wrote:
61 winning days in a row for 4 different firms...
---That's because they pay for exceptional talent...
doomandbloom - 02:01:
Dick Fuld joins Legend Securities
If people like Fuld are getting jobs, then SURELY the depression is over.
we must be in the 'green shoot' phase of recovery..
You can just imagine their defence: “Your honor, everyone on the Street knows that our ratings weren’t intended to be taken seriously, and are not to be used as investment guidelines.”
05/12/2010 | zero hedge
Dad. Can I borrow $1 trillion dollars to buy cocaine?
Internet Tough Guy:
He will remember the days in 2007 when there was some stupid CDO problem; the real fireworks haven't even started.
Ordinary people will remember the day their currency got devalued, their bank closed, their job vanished, their standard of living got repo'd, they couldn't buy food.
Robert J Moran :
it always goes on too long because the minister always enjoys giving it more than the audience enjoys receiving it.
Thank you very much.
Put THAT on a t-shirt!
Blaming Merrill Might Set Goldman Sachs Free, by Michael Lewis, originally posted in Bloomberg
To: Lloyd Blankfein
Re: Winning at Ethics, the Goldman Way
I have reviewed no less than seven times your entire episode on Charlie Rose.
Your artful simplicity, studied humility and former hairline all positively radiated against the set’s dark background.
As one of my lesser colleagues on the desk marveled, “Lloyd seemed almost human:Why?” To which I replied, evenly: “because he finally read my last memo.”
Of course there was no reason you should look to one of your own traders for advice. But now that you have, we must proceed quickly. American public opinion is volatile; our exposure to it is peaking, and it will be more difficult than usual to create the illusion for American mortals (or as we like to call them, “The Morts”) that our business is in their interest, much less that we share anything in common.
This time, please, do not wait five months to internalize my new action items. They are:
No. 1: Implicate the rest of Wall Street, as quickly as possible.
It’s always unnatural to hear the name of Goldman Sachs in the same sentence as Deutsche Bank, much less Merrill Lynch. We must put aside our revulsion. The American people might enjoy seeing one firm being driven out of business by a criminal investigation. They’re less likely to allow for the destruction of every big Wall Street firm. They just forked over trillions to keep them afloat.
This job of putting our behavior in a new context -- comparing it not to some broad universal standard of “decency” but to Wall Street standards -- must be done delicately.
For example I was once hauled before a second-grade teacher and simply shouted, “You ill-paid, third-rate moron! I did nothing worse than what every other kid was doing! It is illogical not to punish them, too!”
The outburst did nothing to alleviate my situation, and probably made it more difficult than it needed to be for me to gain entry to Princeton. But the episode taught me one of the central tenets of the Goldman Way: far better to rig a system than to fight it.
Our public relations staff might quietly and helpfully walk even hostile reporters through some of the deals created by these other firms. Ditto our lawyers in their meetings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
No. 2: Continue to use Warren Buffett, but don’t forget to pay him.
When Warren said that stuff the other day about wishing you had a twin brother so he could employ you both, he didn’t mean it as a sign of his undying admiration for you.
Remember: He said almost exactly the same sort of things about John Gutfreund, after Gutfreund had given him a sweet deal to rescue Salomon Brothers from oblivion. The moment Warren was forced to choose between Gutfreund and his money, he chose his money.
Don’t force him to make that choice. If you want more loud character references from Warren Buffett (you do) you must insure that he continues to think of you as profitable.
I don’t know if there are ways Goldman Sachs might simply give money to Berkshire Hathaway for free, but we should explore the possibility.
Hide the Props
No. 3: Hide, and hide from, the prop group.
If you must be seen in public with Goldman employees, make sure they are bankers and brokers, and not our proprietary traders. You did an excellent job on Charlie Rose of making it seem the prop group didn’t even exist.
We were mere “market makers” who helped our customers “get the risk they wanted.”
At the same time, but for different reasons, you should limit your private interaction with the prop traders, especially Jonathan Egol.
The SEC’s complaint focused on one of Jonathan’s Abacus deals and yet failed even to mention Jonathan. Instead they fingered the French guy.
At first I took it as just another sign of Mort stupidity. But now that the Justice Department has gotten involved, and is combing through all the Abacus deals, I wonder. Why is no one yet talking about Jonathan? Why is no one making noises about the deals structured for Jonathan -- and not John Paulson -- to short them? Is it possible that Jonathan has been helping them to understand our business? Just saying...
Our French Problem
No. 4: You need to address our French problem.
In a matter of weeks Fabrice Tourre has gone from non- entity to a potential asset (a “rogue trader” who might have gone quietly so that the firm might survive) to a huge liability (hero on Wall Street, who somehow has managed to portray himself as both a religious martyr and a mere cog in our machine.)
Going forward I suggest that our personnel department reexamine the French male’s ability to subordinate himself. In English there is no “I” in team. It turns out that the French use a different word: equipe.
Our international people should have known this. At the very least they should have been queasy about hiring guys who look as if they’d rather be wearing espadrilles.
‘Things Like Ethics’
No. 5: Be careful not to say or do anything now that will constrain our ability, after this crisis has passed, to do whatever we want.
The other day, on your emergency conference call with our customers, you said that you wanted Goldman to be seen as a “leader in things like ethics.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself. If in the future we fail to be a leader in ethics we can point to your statement as evidence that we never intended to be a leader in ethics, merely in “things like ethics.”
To that end, I intend to compile a list of things like ethics, in which we might strive to be a leader, without risk to our profitability.
The problem with Blankfiend is that he ALWAYS looks like the cat that ate the canary. He has the face that says "I just committed grand theft and got away with it". Paulson might have had the lazy eyes, but at least he could look serious when he needed to..sleep deprivation be damned. Blankfiend has no control over his facial expression that seems to scream: "Yeah, I did it, I'm doing it now and I will do it again, and again, and again..."
April 07, 2010 | PrudentBear
...A flood of money from central banks and governments – “financial botox” – has temporarily covered up unresolved and deep-seated problems.
...As everyone knows: “A bubble is a rising market that one is not invested in; if one is invested, then it is a bull market.”
...The summary of 2009 and the outlook for 2010 may be the logo on a black T-shirt worn by Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of Steig Larsson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tatoo”: “Armageddon was yesterday – Today we have a serious problem.”
The stock market’s a collective terrorist entity, like a malevolent column of army ants.
"It is amazing that we still don't have an explanation for the weird price changes last Thursday."
Only if you assume they want answers.
I love modern investment. Graham & Dodd are crying even harder than your puts
At least I know I'm in a casino.
(cue old joke: difference between praying in Church, and praying in a casino? When you pray in a casino, you really mean it!)
If you want a good laugh, check out today’s Dow Jones graph. No volatility whatsoever. Either everyone is on their best behavior, or computerized trading has been banned. The bad boys are just sauntering along with their hands in their pockets, whistling some innocuous tune — waiting for the next “big” opportunity. First time tragedy, next time farce. Thank you, Karl Marx.
May 9, 2010 | Angry Bear
John Q. Policymaker is driving a minivan. Maynard Keynes is in the passenger seat, Ed Prescott and Robert Lucas are in the second row of seats and Eugene Fama and John Cochrane are in the back seats.
John Q: We are heading for a cliff -- Maynard: slam on the brakes.
Prescott: I don't see how brakes work. Alan Greenspan has had fewer traffic accidents, since he stopped using brakes. I know some people still teach about friction in third rate departments, but they aren't really advancing the science. You'll go just as fast whether you slam on the brake or not. In modern bicycle theory it is assumed that there is no friction so the concept of "braking" is meaningless.
Maynard: Don't listen to him. Slam on the brake pedal. We're all about to die.
John C: Yes this is a stressful situation and in stressful situations it is tempting to turn to the fairy tales of our childhood.
Maynard: It's not a fairy tale. It's a brake. It's worked before.
John C and Eugene in unison: Brakes are supposed to work because the disk spins under the brake shoes. If the disk is spinning we are going forward. Therefore brakes can't slow us down. There is a logical contradiction between saying we should brake and that we shouldn't keep going forward.
John Q: You guys in the back seats, don't just tell me Maynard is wrong. Tell me what to do to avoid going over the cliff.
Robert L: Serious analysis is a difficult process and requires a step by step approach, starting with simple frictionless models. We expect to have a useful model in roughly thirty years.
Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill baby drill' should have to report to the Gulf coast today for cleanup duty
I am very much on the same page as Bill Maher when recently he (jokingly?) asked , “Why have no bankers been shot?”
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