Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shortage of Optimism you say?

I have an awful habit of saying it the way it is. Many in this country don't like hearing that which is fine by me. I was at an outstanding business leader awards event recently sponsored by a university and one of the award recipients remarked in their acceptance speech that there was a shortage of optimism in this country. I stifled my laughter at that one. Shortage of optimism huh? Not a shortage of criminal charges, not a shortage of law and order dispensed equally and without bias, not a shortage of self reflection, not a shortage of free market capitalism but yes readers, a shortage of optimism.

Given my belief, based on the numbers, that we have only recently exited the mother of all bubbles, that being the debt and credit creation bubble, I wanted to ask said award recipient if she thought people become indentured debt surfs when they were optimistic or pessimistic. I mean my simpletonian logic might suggest when they are optimistic but I wonder her thoughts. If being optimistic is what created this mountain of never, ever payable debt creating one giant ponzi scheme, then I for one will take a bout of pessimism for sure.

Her laugher about optimism is like a virus we see around us. Yes, simply more optimism would just fix everything. Sadly she is not alone. In fact, I believe is far more mainstream. It is one of the reasons why the vast majority of individuals out there cannot honestly and candidly assess what is going on economically for to do so would impeach their own existence.

I believe it was Upton Sinclair who once famously said:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it"

Read that quote again please. Think about it. It goes a long way to help explain the environment of denial and apathy we live in.

Did you happen to catch Bill Moyers interview with former Citi CEO John Reed? You can watch it here. Reed is refreshingly candid in the interview, men (who remember a thing called a conscience) tend to get that way as their mortality catches up with them. I mean, he still thinks (cronycapitalism does this to you) that the banks had to be bailed out as there was no other choice but for the most part he is admitting what only a paid propaganda hack or CNBC boob (now that's redundant) cannot, that Wall St. is a cesspool of maggots period.

Now you can't tell me Reed is stupid and that he doesn't realize that there were other choices to the bank bailouts. Free market capitalism choices like bankruptcy, nationalization, firing the board, executives and senior management, prosecution of fraudulent securitization, pricing and sale of toxic garbage, claw back of all bonus monies, wiping out all classes of equity and bond holders and a open outcry public forum liquidation sale. Amazing I could figure that out sans an Ivy league MBA while those who do cannot. Fascinating (refer to Sinclair quote yet again).

I mean Reed might be dumb but in no way shape or form can he be stupid to rise to where he got to not understand this. In Mr. Reed's case you can substitute the word pension in for salary in Sinclair's quote above.

I am lucky as I get lots of email from readers. Links with articles to look at and of course comments some good, some bad, some laced with profanity and the odd outlier laced with compliments and a thank you. It seems my use of the Bonfire of the Vanities zinger "crumb chaser" hits a nerve with the maggots on Wall St. along with "they'd sell their wives and daughters into sex slavery for a bonus" is another dandy.

I bring this up because we got some interesting news today on a couple of fronts. First from the mortgage bond prosecution of Credit Suisse and its traders. Read the article and check out the quotes from the thugs in question Higgs and Siddiqui and you will start to understand why I say what I say about these maggots. Here are a few gems from this pair:

“I, with the agreement and assistance of Kareem Serageldin and others, manipulated and inflated the cash bond position markings of a trading book referred to as ABN1, in order to hide losses in this book and to achieve specific daily and month-end profit and loss objectives,” Higgs told U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan.

“As a result of my actions, senior management of Credit Suisse was given the false impression that the ABN1 book was profitable and caused Credit Suisse to report false year-end numbers for 2007 in their books and records,” he said.


Higgs told the judge he participated in the scheme,

“because I wanted to remain in good favor with my boss, Kareem Serageldin, and enhance my job performance.”

In a phone call on Sept. 17, 2007, a data-entry employee in the ABN1 book who reported to both Higgs and Serageldin, asked Higgs:

“What sort of P&L do you need today?” according to the charges.

“Higgs responded that all books should end the day ‘up’ by $35 million,” according to the U.S. Later, one of the traders “artificially increased the prices of several ABN1 positions” to meet Higgs’s profit target, prosecutors said.

But of course I exaggerate wildly when I claim they would sell their niece or daughter into sex slavery for a 7 figure bonus.

Next up we find that Dept. of Justice prosecutors accepted bribes from finance executives.

My point here is you can tell me there is a shortage of many things in this great nation just please don't tell me there is a shortage of optimism.

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