Monday, August 13, 2012

It's not just Adam Davidson

On Friday, I posted some background on the host of NPR's Planet Money suggesting that he was more evil than just your typical Wall Street stooge.  The problem with such assessments is that it is VERY difficult to distinguish between someone spouting flawed, but deeply-held beliefs, and someone who has been corrupted by bankster money.  After all, both would say most of the same things.

First up, we have Pam Martens who has worked on Wall Street and is still impressed by how "brilliant" everyone is.  From that point of view, it is almost impossible not to conclude that these people who are saying really absurd things in the press must be selling out to evil.

Matt Taibbi, on the other hand, is NOT so impressed by the "brilliance" of the denizens of Wall Street.  He thinks they are narrow-minded provincials with a very pinched worldview that have been given the keys to dad's sports car (the economy) and don't really know how to drive it.  Stupid, reckless, rich kids!

I tend to find both arguments have merit, though because I tend to think of banksters as these pathetic losers that have turned to crime because it's the only "skills" they have, my basic sympathies are with Taibbi (whose writing I just love!)

But really, I think the ultimate guilty parties are the economic theorists who have concocted a belief system that is plausible to those who think that the economy can best be described by following the money trail.  Start with the supposition that markets are all-wise and there is literally no end to the mischief that follows from that—up to and including the destruction of the biosphere and the demolition of the real economy.  Give dullards the power to manipulate and sabotage the real economy by their rigging of the numbers and you have utterly foreclosed on the possibility of solving difficult problems.

So I guess I believe that if you fill someone's head with enough bullshit, they will quite naturally turn out like a Davidson, or Sorkin, or Bartiromo.  So the power rests with the teachers of bullshit—although as paid propagandists for this BS, financial reporters are very important in the widespread inculcation of a truly evil and destructive belief system.  They are far from innocent but in the end, they are just the "carriers" of the BS.

Tainted Wall Street Reporters: 1932-2012

By Pam Martens: August 11, 2012

There is growing evidence that Wall Street and other corporate money is finding its way into the pockets of business reporters today, just as evidence surfaced in 1932 of bribes to reporters at the New York Daily News, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, New York Evening Post and others.

Yesterday, Yasha Levine and Mark Ames of published a stunning investigative report of a deeply compromised Adam Davidson, host of NPR’s Planet Money. On September 12, 2011, we reported that CNBC’s Larry Kudlow had pocketed $332,500 from the Koch funded Mercatus Center without disclosing it to viewers of his program.

On July 2 of this year, we reported that Andrew Ross Sorkin, of the New York Times and CNBC, attempted to downplay the need for restoring the Glass-Steagall Act by reporting that Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG had no connection to the Glass-Steagall Act, when, in fact, each owned FDIC insured banks which would have been impossible if the law was still in force. Despite two requests for correction of Sorkin’s spectacularly erroneous article, the article remains on the New York Times web site as written, suggesting it is not poor reporting but propaganda.

Back on February 2, 2007, we wrote about Maria Bartiromo of CNBC accepting international flights on Citigroup’s corporate jet and speaking engagements to Citigroup clients. An in-depth look revealed that CNBC and Citigroup were engaged in what marketers call co-branding.

Today’s Wall Street has engaged in every practice that led to the crash of 1929; rigging hot new issues, tainted research, pump and dump, stock loan schemes, collusion, price manipulation. And yet today’s Congress has yet to take up the obvious inquiry as to whether Wall Street’s boosters are on the take.

During the hearings of the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency following the stock market crash of 1929, we saw some shining examples of what a real investigative body is capable of doing for the American people they are supposed to represent.

The hearings were titled “Stock Exchange Practices” and delved into every device of collusion and corruption that members of the New York Stock Exchange were deploying against the investing public.

Unlike the Wall Street hearings that have been held by today’s Congress, members actually showed up with hard evidence to enlighten the public to the details of the corruption.

On April 26, 1932, Congressman Fiorello La Guardia of New York arrived at the hearing, armed with cancelled checks showing reporters at some of New York City’s most prominent newspapers were taking bribes from Wall Street promoters. Let’s have a listen to how things were done in our Congress 80 years ago:
Representative LaGuardia. Very well, we will return right to that matter. As to the statement that the public was to blame in their wild scramble to invest, and that brokers had absolutely nothing to do with fixing prices, with promotions, or advertising, I now state to this committee that that statement is not true. Not only do brokers rig the market, not only do brokers speculate in stocks in which members of the firm are directors of the corporations, but I say now that I shall proceed to deliver to this committee proof that when any of these stocks are selected to be rigged, a high pressure publicity man is retained. He writes the stuff and the papers copy it. Financial writers contact the publicity man, and I have the checks here of some financial writers that received money from one of these high pressure publicity men…The publicity man in this case was A. Newton Plummer. He operated under the name of publicity counsel, and also under the name of Institute of Economic Research…

I think for about 10 or 15 years he was doing this work. I have one account of his here, from 1919, just before the 1921 crash. But the most of his activity, I will say, was during the period of the big boom which ended in the 1929 debacle.

This man Plummer is a very smart young man. He writes this high-powered stuff, and I will leave it with the committee. He had the contacts and this was the modus operandi : He would be given a stock and he would send out the stories about the stock…Then he would be given cash for his necessary disbursements…

Plummer got out of the business, and then he started a financial magazine, and he commenced telling about those transactions. So Mr. Plummer has been hounded since then, and he has been under indictment in connection with some evidence he was looking up to write some sensational story. Now, if our friends on the New York Stock Exchange say that Mr. Plummer is not a reputable, honest man, then I submit that they were using Mr. Plummer for 15 years to write their stuff on their stocks. So they may take their choice on that… more
See what I mean?  Taibbi finds the "heavy thinkers" so preposterous he can only point and giggle.  Of course, Sanford Weill suggesting the return of Glass-Steagall really IS funny.

Times Op-Ed Forgets Entire Year of Wall Street History

Matt Taibbi  August 1, 2012

It was riotous, side-splitting comedy last week when Sanford Weill, the onetime head of Citibank, went on CNBC to announce that he thought it was time to break up the big banks.

Why this was funny: Through his ambitious (and at the time not yet legal) decision to merge Citibank, Travelers, and Salomon Brothers into one giant wrecking ball of greed, self-dealing and global irresponsibility called Citigroup, Weill more or less single-handedly created the Too-Big-To-Fail problem. You know, the one currently casting that thick, black doomlike shadow over all humanity which, if you look out your window, you can see floating over all our heads this very minute.

Nonetheless, Weill came out last week against Too Big to Fail banks. "I’m suggesting," he told astonished reporters on a live CNBC interview, "that they be broken up so that the taxpayer will never be at risk…. What we should probably do is go and split up investment banking from banking."

The interview became an instant YouTube classic. The very funniest part, I thought, was the response of Squawk Box host Andrew Ross Sorkin, the single most credulously slobbering financial reporter on the planet this side of Maria Bartiromo. Even he was so shocked by Weill’s comments that he lost his voice – "I’m speechless," he said.

At about the 1:20 mark of the clip, just after Weill offered his incredible opinion about the need to break up the banks, any sensible reporter would have pounced. Some version of, "Dude, are you high? You invented Too Big To Fail!" would have been the proper response – followed hopefully by a spirited lunge across the set to beat Weill repeatedly about the neck and head with a Swingline stapler, until he screeched out a tearful apology to every last living soul on earth.

Instead, Sorkin took another tack:

"Okay, so then the question becomes – Glass-Steagall," Sorkin said. "You’re almost referring to bringing back Glass-Steagall, in some respects."

Now, what Sorkin actually meant to say here was, "Hey, asshole, we had to repeal Glass-Steagall just to make your Citigroup merger legal, remember? And now you’re pontificating, telling us we need to bring it back? Are you joking?"

Instead, Sorkin triple-qualified the question, first by not bringing up Weill’s role in the repeal of Glass-Steagall directly, then by saying that Weill had merely "almost" and "in some respects" uttered probably the most obnoxious and enraging comments made on television by a Wall Street executive in the years since the crisis.  more

1 comment:

  1. Ultimately wall street is both brilliant and fully corrupted; and they are exactly like rich kids in a sports car, for they possess the financial skills required to drive, but none of the wisdom to know when to throttle back approaching a curve (bubble-burst) and none of the ethics to know when not to pass because it will crash the other innocent guys on the track (selling financial bombs to their own clients).

    Then of course, while they profit on insider deals unavailable to others and propped up by public bailouts and govt/FED policy, they go back into the public with schemes to further rip them off like this is some SIM Financial City game and not real lives and real businesses and real economies they are crashing.

    This is why they must be stopped, the keys (free FED money) taken away, and curfew enforced (Glass-Steagall separation enforced). And if the parents won't do it (Sanford Weill is trying, but the teens are rebelling), and the police are corrupted (zero banksters prosecuted), then it is left to the people themselves to rebel.

    It might be peaceful--boycotts moving moneys away from the crooks...but the longer the oligarchs resist, the more likely it will be ugly--
    --runs on banks
    --organized chaos like Occupy groups...
    ...and we can only pray it will not get violent, which unfortunately is becoming more and more likely as people like Weill are attacked instead of respected for making his bold statement for change.

    These oligarchs are creating their own endtime and have no one to blame but themselves for the world they are creating...they may not have earned what they have today, but they definitely will earn what they will receive.