Tag Archives: Wall Street

If things were reversed, would Katrina have been Bush’s Gulf oil spill?

As I see it, and I am interested in hearing other’s takes, the answer is a clear “no.” If Bush had succeeded Obama, instead of the other way around, and Katrina had occurred after the oil spill, there is simply no way that we would be screaming at Bush to stop the hurricane.

Because that is essentially what we want Obama to do. We want Obama to raise his staff and stop the damn hurricane. Perhaps we have forgotten that the tragedy of governmental incompetence during Katrina was not related to the government’s inability to halt a natural disaster, something we clearly should not expect of our elected officials, but rather to their total inability to handle the clean-up, the humanitarian crisis, etc. With the oil spill not yet plugged, Obama’s part in this hasn’t even really started yet.

And that’s the problem. It is literally unfathomable to a very large part of the country, many of whom are generally quite cynical, that a company of the size and stature of BP could a) have allowed this to happen in the first place thanks to total negligence, or b) that they could begin such a risky undertaking without having a legitimate plan for how to stop a leak if one started. Clearly corporations lie, cheat, and steal, but those are the banks on Wall Street, not the big companies that provide thousands of jobs across the country. Thus, though it is undoubtedly a tragedy caused by BP (but perhaps not one that is their fault, per se), it is clearly the government’s fault that this is happening. For some reason. Bottom line: these companies are perfectly capable of regulating themselves, thank you very much, but the fact that the government regulations I didn’t want didn’t keep this from happening is just appalling. You need to do more (do less)!

And Obama’s inability to figure out how to stop an oil spill (something which his law degree clearly qualifies him to do) is more proof that he is a presidential failure. That, plus the failure to pass healthcare reform, a jobs bill, a stimulus package, financial reform, etc. Oh, wait…

(You can hate his policies and pray for repeal, but recognize a winner when you see one. This is the approach I’ve had to take with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers…In fact, in many ways Obama is to the presidency what Bryant is to pro basketball. Even when Bryant, who I admittedly dislike in a surprisingly visceral way, scores 40 points and puts on an absurd performance, everybody derides it as selfish playing and any other number of negative descriptions. One has to wonder, were Kobe to have a personality transplant and finally look like he actually wants to be on the court and isn’t, in fact, looking to strangle his own teammates, would we all revere him as a virtual god instead of somebody who is unfortunately fantastic?)

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Goldman Sachs and the politics of financial reform

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep so I ended up mulling over the fraud case against Goldman Sachs (GS) for about 3 hours. Here’s my (totally uneducated) take:

Bottom line, this case against GS is not a gamble by the government. The administration wants financial reform much more than they want to “get” GS, but because midterm elections are around the corner and Democrats are already expected to lose a fair number of Congressional seats, the administration really can’t afford to have Republicans running around telling people that financial reform is Maoism in disguise (or in the best interest of the banks…with the Republicans still auditioning opposition strategies, it’s like amateur hour on the Hill). So. What is to be done? How do you pass real financial reform in this political climate without more than a mock brawl? Apparently if you’re particularly savvy, you bring a charge against the most loathed bank on Wall Street based on a disclosure issue that may not actually be technically illegal, but that very clearly sounds like something that should be. The ambiguity of the law is the SEC/administration’s ace in the hole. Either GS settles or loses and financial reform happens because the issue is very clearly illustrated for the public by one great example, or GS wins and financial reform happens because the entire country is incensed that whatever GS did isn’t illegal. Either way, financial reform passes.

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Bernie Madoff Grinds My Gears

According to a Rasmussen poll out today, when asked whether or not Bernie Madoff or his wife should be allowed to keep any of their money stolen in the $64.8 billion Ponzi scheme, 81% of respondents answered no.

81%. Definitely a majority.

But what about the other 19% of schmucks who either responded yes, the Madoffs should be able to keep some of their money, or that they aren’t really sure? Who are these people? Are they also running Ponzi schemes? Who looks at what Madoff did and says “eh, could have been worse. Let him keep some for his effort?”

Let’s pretend that Bernie Madoff’s crime wasn’t stealing enormous amounts of money from trusting investors, but rather staffing his household with illegal “indentured servants” from somewhere in Southeast Asia (I’m keeping this high-class). Asking whether or not he can keep some of the money he stole is sort of like asking the INS to let him keep a couple of his, let’s be honest, slaves because they do a particularly ¬†good job on the floors and it’s just so hard to find adequate help these days. Would anybody be running polls on this, let alone considering the request with even the remotest amount of seriousness? Of course not!¬†

Bernie Madoff cheated a huge number of people out of an exorbitant amount of money. Simply because his crimes allow him to dress and live well, doesn’t make him a VIP member of society. So no, Bernie Madoff should keep absolutely nothing. And as for his wife being allowed to hold on to $70 million to live on while Bernie is in prison? ARE THEY NUTS? This woman needs $70 million dollars to survive on? Does she eat diamonds?

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