I admit, I find the entire economic mess to be too complicated to understand beyond some basics. Most Americans simplify it one of two political ways: first, attributing it as Republicans do to the Community Reinvestment Act
, thus laying the blame at the feet of Sen. Barney Frank and Pres. Clinton; or second, attributing it as Democrats do to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
, wherein Republican senators gutted regulation.
Since I require metaphors to comprehend this sort of insanity, I see the latter (CRA) as the trigger mechanism in a fission reaction, and the latter (GLBA) providing the uranium for it to truly go nuclear. The more I read about Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs)
and credit default swaps
, the more I hate what this country has become.
For some time, I was unsettled on whether the TARP bailouts under Bush and Obama were the right thing to do. My first, instinctive reaction was that if a company was too big too fail, it was too big to exist: let the fucker die and Darwin explain the rest. As the rationalization for the bailouts was unfurled, I began to see the possibility that the US and world economies might have been at the brink of systemic failure.
Systemic failure is a phrase that comes up a lot in the PBS Frontline story about the crash
, which cast Treasury chief Henry Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke as cautious saviors. Now, PBS offers IMO the best domestic source of news, free as it is of overt profiteering, but that's not to say that you can accuse PBS of objectivity. For every Bill Moyers left-leaning slant, there has been over the past decade or so a conscious effort towards correcting things rightward, and not from any sense of being "fair and balanced," but I would imagine to appease the people overseeing the Federal funds who, during the period of 2000-08, weren't exactly left-leaning. So, profiteering is not the driver, but to some extent money still is. While I continue to prefer PBS to most other domestic media, I recall how another Frontline story, in the leadup to the war in Iraq, presented the cherry-picked intel that was the backbone of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz rationale for war, without bothering to raise counter-balancing questions. Just as the Frontline piece on the market crash was full of intelligent detail and a brilliant sense of timeline, so that one might in some way sympathize with the ethical dilemmas of Paulson and Bernanke, so too had the Iraq piece convinced me that the utterly wrong thing to do was not only right, but urgent.
So as my own understanding of these issues evolves, I cannot say even now that I grasp the enormity of the actions of all the players, or understand the subtle interplay of their roles, or ascertain their motives. But all this is a long-winded way to encourage my fellow MGSers to read a couple of thought-provoking pieces on the machinations of Goldman Sachs, one rather brief piece from Robert Scheer
that helps explain the recent "surprise" earnings report from GS; the other is a scathing (and often hilarious) from Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi
Even if I balance my inclination to disbelieve vast conspiracy theories, Taibbi's piece on GS brings nausea. It makes you feel even less a part of the great American dream, a hapless sucker. At the very least, this is food for thought. And if anyone is bitching about individual income tax rates, read page 6 of 7: you and me and every other hard-working American isn't just subsidizing Goldman's pilfering of our wealth, we're subsidizing all of corporate America.
Welcome to America turned upside-down.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meltdown/