About Thomas Friedman, he said...
On an ideological level, Friedman's new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horsepoo. If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country.
Ten minutes after his talk with Nilekani, he is pitching a tent in his company van on the road back from the Infosys campus in Bangalore:
As I left the Infosys campus that evening along the road back to Bangalore, I kept chewing on that phrase: "The playing field is being leveled."
What Nandan is saying, I thought, is that the playing field is being flattened... Flattened? Flattened? My God, he's telling me the world is flat!
This is like three pages into the book, and already the premise is totally fuged. Nilekani said level, not flat. The two concepts are completely different. Level is a qualitative idea that implies equality and competitive balance; flat is a physical, geographic concept that Friedman, remember, is openly contrastingironically, as it were with Columbus's discovery that the world is round.
he also hates hillary clinton, for example, but for reasons most of you will not identify with.
The other conspirator, of course, was Bill Clinton himself. By screwing everything that moved and especially by publicly engaging, with the irritatingly wide-eyed and much younger Monica Lewinsky, in the kind of weird and interesting sex most older career women only experience in fading memories or at exorbitant per-hour rates in third-world vacation locales, Bill turned his wife into the ultimate martyr for modern feminism. Hillary was educated, driven and accomplished, a super-woman who brilliantly matched wits with CEOs and senators on live national television, and what did it get her? A one-way trip to the sexual scrap-heap, followed by a late middle age lived out as an unsmiling promilitary curmudgeon with a fast-rusting vagina endlessly haunting the Sunday morning news magazine shows, with nothing left to look forward to but the questionable rewards of power and ambition, and a thicker neck every year . . . Hillary's life story, in other words, spoke to the deepest fears of the modern liberated woman, who by the turn of the century was beginning to have serious doubts about what was waiting for her at the end of the rainbow.
He's been giving interviews and attending debates about the economic crisis for the last few months, and it's finally come together in this massive piece.
Yes, it appears in Rolling Stone, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. any writer or photographer worth anything throughout the past fifty years have contributed to the magazine.
It's pretty long but well worth the read. Here are some choice examples.
People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.
The crisis was the coup de grâce: Given virtually free rein over the economy, these same insiders first wrecked the financial world, then cunningly granted themselves nearly unlimited emergency powers to clean up their own mess. And so the gambling-addict leaders of companies like AIG end up not penniless and in jail, but with an Alien-style death grip on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve — "our partners in the government," as Liddy put it with a shockingly casual matter-of-factness after the most recent bailout.
the party selling CDS protection didn't have to post any money upfront. When a $100 corporate bond is sold, for example, someone has to show 100 actual dollars. But when you sell a $100 CDS guarantee, you don't have to show a dime. So Cassano could sell investment banks billions in guarantees without having any single asset to back it up.
Secondly, Cassano was selling so-called "naked" CDS deals. In a "naked" CDS, neither party actually holds the underlying loan. In other words, Bank B not only sells CDS protection to Bank A for its mortgage on the Pope — it turns around and sells protection to Bank C for the very same mortgage. This could go on ad nauseam: You could have Banks D through Z also betting on Bank A's mortgage. Unlike traditional insurance, Cassano was offering investors an opportunity to bet that someone else's house would burn down, or take out a term life policy on the guy with AIDS down the street. It was no different from gambling, the Wall Street version of a bunch of frat brothers betting on Jay Feely to make a field goal. Cassano was taking book for every bank that bet short on the housing market, but he didn't have the cash to pay off if the kick went wide.
as the subprime crisis was exploding, the Government Accountability Office criticized the OTS, noting a "disparity between the size of the agency and the diverse firms it oversees." Among other things, the GAO report noted that the entire OTS had only one insurance specialist on staff — and this despite the fact that it was the primary regulator for the world's largest insurer!
"There's this notion that the regulators couldn't do anything to stop AIG," says a government official who was present during the bailout. "That's bullpoo. What you have to understand is that these regulators have ultimate power. They can send you a letter and say, 'You don't exist anymore,' and that's basically that. They don't even really need due process. The OTS could have said, 'We're going to pull your charter; we're going to pull your license; we're going to sue you.' And getting sued by your primary regulator is the kiss of death."
Edited by Fiz, 22 March 2009 - 01:49 PM.