Serious Studies

Who's To Blame

Pie-Eating Contest

I don't have a lot of time this morning, and I'm getting pretty sick of all attempts to complexify this question, so I'll lay it out for you right here.

Who's to blame for this incredible mess? It's really clear.

No, it's not Wall Street. Wall Street is there to work within whatever rules there are to make people who invest in stocks and other instruments (and pay their broker fees) as much money as possible, with billions left over for Itself.

No, it's not Greedy People. Captialism is all about rewarding the greedy. If Greedy were a crime, they'd have to set aside Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas to hold all the felons.

No, it's not the Banks who pressured the Feds to change the rules, jobbed the system and did whatever they could to build double-digit growth into a machine set up to operate in the low single digits. They were playing by the rules they were allowed to set up for themselves, and, more importantly, by the demented rules of the Street.

And no, it's not the fat cats who profited, or the weasels who sold the same bridge over and over again, or even the realtors who squeezed every last bit of juice out of the blood orange that was offered to them. These are all shallow, self-interested, slightly sleazy, ambitious, avaricious, mendacious forces that are DESIGNED to do what they did: Get away with whatever they could. Make the most money. Figure out rationalizations to make it all sound good. So you can't blame the intellectual courtesans in academia, the press or the research departments of now defunct institutions who helped them do that either, no matter how tempting it is to do so.

It's the guys who were supposed to watch this sorry bunch and prevent them from taking over the funny farm. They're the ones to blame. How simple do I have to make it?

Guy #1's job is to eat as many pies as he can before he dies. Guy #2 is hired to make sure that everybody gets his or her fair share and plays by the apple-pie rules. If Guy #1 and his pals get all the pies, he's just doing his job. It's Guy #2 who isn't.

So I'm looking at Guy #2, who changed all the rules when Guy #1 asked him to. Who didn't enforce the few, tattered rules that remained. Who, over the course of the last couple of decades, never learned the most simple two-letter word in the English language, one that translates pretty well into virtually any global tongue. That word is NO.

The system is built to reward the fast, the greedy, the sharp, the amoral. In a totally free market, it is they, unencumbered by restraint, who do what's necessary to reach their objectives. That's why we have laws and regulations and people to manage them -- not to destroy freedom, but to make it possible in a world that is not set up to truly establish it.

I blame Guy #2. Isn't it time we took him out behind the barn?

38 Comments Add Comment

The problem, of course, is that guy #2 is elected by guy #1. Seldom have cycles been more vicious.

hey Bing...are you cool with my blogging? I noticed my blog for today is gone, and yesterday's as well. Are you kicking me off?

The sad truth is that everybody, everywhere, not just in the USA, it is on his/her own. Nobody here is to protect and serve, only the police and sometimes not even them. I'm teaching my kids, and any young people who cares to listen to me, to absolutely and without any regard or consideration to nature or humankind, to take advantage of whatever is out there that will benefit them first and who cares about the rest. I have played by the rules all my life and now there no one to help me, I had faith in humankind but now I have completely lost it, and again, no, the problem is not the USA, it everywhere, everywhere where there is humankind stinks.

How did Billy The Kid become guy #1? Because he sent guy #2 to Boot Hill.

Bill'y run as #1 ended when he fell to #2 pushing up daisies on Boot Hill.

The notches on the gun handle have yet to reach infinity for #1.

Guy #1 is just as much to blame because Guy #2 is usually elected by Guy(s) #1. Guy #1 wanted someone in the Guy #2 spot who he could control, manipulate, etc so he could get what he wanted.

Unless Guy #2 cannot have any connection to Guy #1 (meaning he cannot lose his job if he says NO), then Guy #2 is just a figurehead. Guy #2 needs to have no connection to anything in the market based on performance or anything. They need to be the watchdogs.

People only want to scream REGULATION when they are hurt. When times were good, they sure didn't want anyone telling them NO because they then were being 'OPPRESSED.' Everyone called for deregulation because they were being held back when regulation is there to stop 'stupidity.' and people without any common sense (which is most of Wall Street and Main Street). If Guy #2 did his job well, we'd be hearing screams of Dictatorship from within the regulators.

We need Guy #2 to be someone who is not elected by Guy #1 and who has no concerns what he tells Guy #1 as long as his interests are for the long term success of whatever he is over-seeing/protecting. We had those people, but again, they were voted out, run out because they didn't agree with #1 and nobody wants a 'negative nancy' telling everyone during good times that they are going to screw everything up for everyone.

Bing, you make a good argument in eleven paragraphs. Phil blew it out of the water in one sentence.

Alright, everybody. The party is out behind the barn and we're all doing #2!

Really, the base of the problem can be traced to a lack of election reform (corrupt and bad decisions by lawmakers). Here's a plan: Wanna be in Congress? Great, pay a filing fee to cover your civil service exam, Psyche eval., and FBI background check. When you pass, you go into the lottery and if you win, you serve for up to 3 terms unless your local voters recall you. Pay em $500k a year and dont let any lobbyists near them. Then, you have a higher chance of people making decisions in the best interest of most citizens.

This makes perfect sense to me. Which is why it will never fly. Time to storm the palace and man the ramparts.

Now England is having kittens and trying to avoid our little problem. Interesting....

Maybe we need a "Joe who gulps a six pack beer" or a "hockey mom" with lipstick and the face of a bulldog as the leaders who are going to break that vicious cycle

My exact belief. And we did the unforgiveable sin of letting the same bunch try to "remedy" the problem.
How many times did President Bush and various others stear the ship of (financial) state out into calmer waters.
Who took over the helm? The stinking (self interests only) dummycrats.
Start with Senator Dodd, then Senator Obama (only 2 years as a senator and he already bled Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac) over $120,000.
My late father is right, you do not have to be a crook to get elected, the new ones learn from the "experienced" ones.

Guy's #1 and #2 behaviour will never ever change because we are "rational" animals a.k.a. "humans". The real problem is that poor guy is being left with the task of paying the bill of the biggest party on earth while rich and government guy walk away. So the key here is to, both, spread the wealth and the pain as well. AIG execs went to a retreat just a week ago, boy, they deserve it! believe it or not there's work involved in finding ways to screw up a company and later ask daddy to save it.

Let me restate this proposition.

Guy #1 makes little or no downpayment (has no skin in the game) on an expensive perhaps overpriced house, asks for and accepts an adjustable rate mortgage loan generating a monthly payment he can barely afford, and then saves little or nothing to tide himself over if he loses his job or has a health problem that interferes with his earnings.

When a whole bunch of these Guys # 1 can't make their payments on houses that have lost value-- the poop hits the fan. Guys #1 hope someone will save their "investment" in the American Dream and Guys #2 decide it's a good idea to charge the ordinary taxpayer to bail Guys #1 out.

Here's some advice for Guys # 1-- Hey Guys, live on less than you make, pay for what you buy, save in case you need to cover a tough time, take the fixed rate mortgage-- don't be a jerk and ask the rest of us to bail you out.

Here are some thoughts for Guys #2--Hey, please don't reward unwise financial choices. This is a serious moral issue. Oh sorry, too late. Guys # 2 are going to provide $700,000,000,000 most of which Guys #1 will never see.

Are you kiddin' me?

Gil you're such a Marinite, you make us proud!

Looking for someone to blame at this stsge of the game is pretty lame.

People by their very nature are lazy and stupid and greedy so lets just leave it at that.

If you want to find somebody, try finding someone to get everyone out of this mess.

The last guy that got the world out of a depression was Hitler, let's do better this time around.

Pogo "We have met the enemy and they is us." Wizard of ID "Remember the golden rule. he who has the gold rules"

Sorry, but I believe Guy #1 is just as responsible - Where is his social consciousness? Greed may not be a crime but it certainly is a sin. Where is Guy #1's morality and ethics. They all take courses on ethics. They must have slept through that class. We all have a moral obligation to look after each other. Moderation is the key in all aspects of this crisis. It may be worth it if lessons are learned but the same greed will always exist no matter what until all men develop what is known as social consciousness. Amen.

Would the real guy #2 please stand up?
From September 1999...

Bing - Right On! I guess we could name those responsible, but thinking people already know. Thanks for telling the truth.

Right! Blame it on Guy #2 for allowing Guy #1 to over-reach. Ironically, Guy #1 has disdain for Guy #2, who attempts to regulate his over-reach, and uses his resources to get Guy #2 out of office. But you blame Guy #2 for letting them do it? How do you go up against those kind of resources? Now Guy #1 needs Guy #2 to "bail" them out.

don't worry. euphoria is coming with the ascension of obama. soon, all your needs will be satisfied as the new rights of the government. all we'll need to do is give the govt all our money and they'll do everything for us. not too dissimilar to the pods in the matrix. big govt will choke us all. big, corrupt govt breaks your legs and then, when they give you crutches, tell you how you wouldn't be able to walk without their help. whores, all of them. you are on your own. those of us that will be able to absorb obama's tax increase will laugh when the "95% of taxpayers" suffer through the problems that the tax increases will create. if you're dumb enough to fall for this snake oil bullshit, then you get what you deserve.

No, I don't think its time to spank Guy #2, not as long as all the Guy #1's are allowed to have a significant say in how Guy #2 is hired, managed, and paid. Not with the increasing information (media) control exercised by Guy #1. Not with the heavy dependence of Guy #2's job on Guy 1's money. Not with the reality that Guy 2 almost always makes less than Guy #1. Not while Guy #1 knows that he can reap amazing rewards by evading Guy 2, while Guy 2 knows equally well that no such great potential reward awaits him reigning in Guy #1. Most importantly, not while knowing that Guy #1 and his (your?) ilk have been committing their substantial power and resources to co-opt, minimize, hamstring, defund, or otherwise beat down Guy #2 ("make him small enough to be drowned in a bathtub" if I recall my Norquist).

Okay Jack has spoken...lets move on!!!!!!!! Next subject.

Isn't the guy who let this mess happen, now in charge of cleaning it up. The fox is still in the hen house.

Hey Bing, you actually understand. All this populist hysteria is counterproductive. I don't trust the government to get at the root because the government is at the root of it. It is not greed, but a lack of prudence by people who should have known better and two quasi-governmental organizations with powerful political allies. People have a right to be upset, but they are upset at the wrong people. They should go after Barney Frank, Andrew Cuomo, and Chris Dodd. The architects and protectors of the current ,mortgage racket and the investment bankers stupid enough to turn the questionable loans into questionable investments. Did also mention that two formers Fannie executives who oversaw this fraud are on Obama's campiagn staff?. Ronald Regan was right when he the scariest words "I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

Inflation and delation are always monetary phenomenon.

This deflation is due to a flawed theory at the central bank - inflation rate targeting. By limiting the measure of deflation to CPI, which excludes housing and other asset prices, Ben Bernanke took the good and natural de-leveraging in housing and turned it into a deflationary spiral.

Ben controls the regulator of the economic system. The other regulatory failures the press and politician are citing are problems, but they didn't cause this disaster.

The pundits need to shine a bright light on Ben so he can see the error of his theoretical framework, which was derived from the wrong history.

What Ben knows, just ain't so.

Bing did a good job of pointing the fingure of blame at #2?

But wasn't it the Senate Republicans in 2006 that tried to have a regulator appointed for Fannie and Freddie and ALL the Democrats voted against the bill?

Maybe this is why #2 never even existed in the first place.

Number Two had his wings clipped by Barney, Obama, Reid, Biden, and Clinton before he even got a chance to oversee #1.

Its time we run the real #2s out of Washington in November!

Aristotle said: “The intention of the lawgiver is to lead men to virtue.” Seriously - if we want #2 to lead people to do what is right, we have to attract the brightest people to be #2....and you attract the brightest people with $ & prestige...if #1 offers all the # and prestige, where are all the leaders going to want to go?

I'm sorry, Randall, but I personally think you've got the WAY wrong #2s. Anybody who can look at Washington right now and think that the Democrats were running the show has a very Orwellian take on things. At least that's my opinion. Beginning with Reagan, we've been in a mode where people who are essentially enemies of their own function are running key areas of government.

As the markets plunge, could there be a panic to time the bottom?

How many are mistakenly chasing the carrots on the snow ball headed for hell?

Should the key markets shut the trading down to thwart the Las Vegas double or nothing syndrome?

Rational thinking seems to be frozen as panic seems to be boiling over!

In my opinion only!

Guy #1 cannot restrain his addiction to more. Can Guy# 2 restrain Guy #1? Don't think so since Guy #2 has the same tendency. They rotate places, now and then, but the tendency drives the bipolarity of most cultures.

My suggestion: live in a manic era and die just prior to a depressed era. Or possibly wake up from the neurosis and enjoy the mess. It's "As Good As It Gets".

Bing is The Man. I dug the book "Lloyd: What Happened?"

Do we need a Federal Reserve? Honest, what is it good for? Bubbles, printing money, rate changes, bail outs? The Goverment can do all that by itself without the Fed's help and it can be as lousy as them, but at least is the Goverment and not an agency created with the sole purpose of controlling adequately economic activity. The Federal Reserve is the most useless govermental agency and only a blind can't see the absurd and pernicious work of this organism. Talk straight Bing, blame things for their name.

I thought I was talking straight. It's the job of government, on all levels, to protect the majority of people from the few who want to abuse the system for criminal or self-serving reasons -- particularly from those who have the power to do so. You can call it regulation, but what it is is LAW. For a long time, arguably since the time of Ronald Reagan, those whose job it is to enforce the law and protect the people have failed to do so. Laws have been repealed. Weird financial practices have been blessed. We the public have been fooled, propagandized and screwed a million ways, to the benefit of a small cadre of very rich people and those elected to protect them. If we're going to survive, responsible people have to step up, save the system in which we live -- since we don't really have another -- and then implement the kind of rules that help genuine market growth and control the natural impulse of the strong, amoral and greedy to run the planet to the detriment of the rest of us. What's obvious is that the markets do NOT regulate themselves, and that left to their own devices the guys who run the markets will, in the end, run them into the ground. The system that works seems to be capitalism with some form of social and governmental oversight to balance its natural rapaciousness. Clear enough?

I agree bing. very clear. now smoke a cigar and lighten up lol.

Clear enough. What we need now it's not more regulation. Instead we need better regulation and I say it again: Better regulation. You're right Bing. Capitalism with a social safety net or in your own words: "Govermental oversight".

I work in the public sector in a non-finance related area. I both agree with your assertion to some extent, but see no possible solution. The rewards for being a regulator in finance versus participating in it are too far apart. That area of government does not quite have the help the helpless, defend the nation, protect the environment, explore space allure that other areas rely on to attract talent. Surely there are talented individuals in those regulators, but they are probably the exception rather than the rule. And even the most talented public servant is ultimately at the mercy of political appointtees and elected officials and only voters can do anything about that.