Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Series of Massive Delusions*

(or The Toxic Fallout from Ayn & Uncle Miltie)

Posted in observance of April [etc.] Fool’s Day

Here are a few quotes from Boomerang by Michael Lewis—a déjà vu of “what you sow is what you reap [eventually**]”:
“They created fake capital by trading assets amongst themselves at inflated values, … This was how the banks and investment companies grew and grew” (p. 17 ~ quote from a London hedge fund manager).

… bankers buying stuff from one another at inflated prices, borrowing tens of billions of dollars and relending it to members of their little … tribe, who then used it to buy up a messy pile of foreign assets (p. 19-20).

One of the hidden causes of the current global financial crisis is that the people who saw it coming had more to gain from it by taking short positions than they did by trying to publicize the problem (p. 20).

Inside Greece [or nation X—take your pick], there was no market for whistle-blowing, as basically everyone was in on the racket (p. 63).

Extremely smart traders inside Wall Street investment banks devise deeply unfair diabolically complicated bets, and then send their sales forces out to scour the world for some idiot who will take the other side of those bets (p. 153).

… Morgan Stanley designed extremely complicated credit default swaps so they were all but certain to fail, so that their own proprietary traders could bet against them … (p. 153).

The American bond traders may have sunk their firms by turning a blind eye to the risks in the subprime bond market, but they made a fortune for themselves in the bargain, and have for the most part never been called to account (p. 161-2).

They’d [Americans] been conditioned to grab as much as they could, without thinking about the long-term consequences. Afterward, the people of Wall Street would privately bemoan the low morals of the American people who walked away from their subprime loans, and the American people would express outrage at the Wall Street people who paid themselves a fortune to design the bad loans (p. 202).

“We have lost the ability to self-regulate, at all levels of society. The five million dollars you get paid at Goldman Sachs if you do whatever they ask you to do—that is the [reptilian scarcity/abundance trigger that short-circuits long-term benefit for short-term biology/gratification; in other words, diet versus] chocolate cake upgraded” (p. 205, quoting/ paraphrasing Dr. Peter Whybrow—UCLA neuroscientist).
The extent of the corruption, self-service, and criminality is so pervasive and incredible that too many view it as just that—not credible; or in the alternative, as a regrettable, collateral zit on the divine face of free markets. These nice-people-in-suits who furnish/entice us with consumables, loans, investments opps, and aspirations can’t be so bad!

Well folks, the bad news is: it is BAD, BAD, BAD; BADDER (Yes! BADDER because worse doesn't sufficiently describe it) than you even imagine. And the toxic fraud and fallout will continue till we demand a new cultural paradigm of balance, where libertarianism is seen for what it is—an untenable extreme of individualism—as untenable and devastating as extreme collectivism. (What it really amounts to is a concentrated collectivism on the right as opposed to a supposedly broad one on the left. At both extremes, the status of the majority is impoverished, despite the hype.)

Perhaps it is time the “masses yearning to [be] free” of massive fraud and corruption demanded a massive right-wing correction in a déjà vu mirror image from 1987: “Tear down this Wall Street!” And “Let my people go find a more just and equitable way.”

* p. 198 from Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis (2011)—a book every adult should read; every libertarian should read twice (a day); and every bond trader (and accomplice) should have piped into their Leavenworth/FCI-Tallahassee (etc.) cell 24/7 on a rotating basis with other exposes, including The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine also by Michael Lewis.
** If not now, then hereafter, as in “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (New Testament 1 Timothy 6:10)

“Tear down this wall!” reference: !
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