Friday, August 6, 2010

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone: Wall Street's Big Win

It is unfortunate that most of the truth telling about the financial industry in prose is either done in blogs or a guy who writes in a music magazine, but the MSM more or less appears bought and paid for.  Matt Taibbi is back, explaining in a manner only he can, why nothing has really changed despite "financial reform".  While not perfect in all assessments (in my opinion) his pieces are directionally correct and explain what is hidden in musty closets and dark corners, far more than you get in any mainstream publication.   His "vampire squid on the face of humanity" piece about Goldman Sachs gets all the publicity but his piece in March 2009 is the true masterpiece.  In fact, it has so much 'truthiness' I cannot find it anymore in the Rolling Stone archives.  Cue the grassy knoll.

Sold older Taibbi links


Via Rolling Stone:

  • Cue the credits: the era of financial thuggery is officially over. Three hellish years of panic, all done and gone – the mass bankruptcies, midnight bailouts, shotgun mergers of dying megabanks, high-stakes SEC investigations, all capped by a legislative orgy in which industry lobbyists hurled more than $600 million at Congress. 
  • Obama's speech introducing the massive law brimmed with celebratory finality. He threw around lofty phrases like "never again" and "no more." He proclaimed the end of unfair credit-card-rate hikes and issued a fatwa on abusive mortgage practices and the shady loans that helped fuel the debt bubble. The message was clear: The sheriff was padlocking the Wall Street casino, and the government was taking decisive steps to unfuck our hopelessly broken economy.
  • But is the nightmare really over, or is this just another Inception-style trick ending? 
  • But Dodd-Frank was neither an FDR-style, paradigm-shifting reform, nor a historic assault on free enterprise. What it was, ultimately, was a cop-out, a Band-Aid on a severed artery. If it marks the end of anything at all, it represents the end of the best opportunity we had to do something real about the criminal hijacking of America's financial-services industry. During the yearlong legislative battle that forged this bill, Congress took a long, hard look at the shape of the modern American economy – and then decided that it didn't have the stones to wipe out our country's one ­dependably thriving profit center: theft.
  • It's not that there's nothing good in the bill. In fact, there are many good things in it, even some historic things.  
  • All of this is great, but taken together, these reforms fail to address even a tenth of the real problem. Worse: They fail to even define what the real problem is
  • Over a long year of feverish lobbying and brutally intense backroom negotiations, a group of D.C. insiders fought over a single question: Just how much of the truth about the financial crisis should we share with the public? Do we admit that control over the economy in the past dec ade was ceded to a small group of rapacious criminals who to this day are engaged in a mind- numbing campaign of theft on a global scale? Or do we pretend that, minus a few bumps in the road that have mostly been smoothed out, the clean-hands capitalism of Adam Smith still rules the day in America? In other words, do people need to know the real version, in all its majestic whorebotchery, or can we get away with some bulls*** cover story?   In passing Dodd-Frank, they went with the cover story.

So with an intro like that, you can assume the rest of the piece is worth a gander. 

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