Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wall Street: Liars, Idiots, & Thieves

This is perhaps the most important article you'll ever read about the failure of Wall Street. It's long but well worth it.

Here are some quotes that will likely have you as stunned as they did me:

In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.

Eisman knew subprime lenders could be scumbags. What he underestimated was the total unabashed complicity of the upper class of American capitalism.

He explained that the rating agencies were morally bankrupt and living in fear of becoming actually bankrupt.

He had tried a thousand times in a thousand ways to explain how screwed up the business was, and no one wanted to hear it. “That Wall Street has gone down because of this is justice,” he says. “They fucked people. They built a castle to rip people off. Not once in all these years have I come across a person inside a big Wall Street firm who was having a crisis of conscience.”

Some reading this article might conclude that all capitalism is evil. I don't view what occurred here as capitalism. The word that kept floating in my mind was instead this one:

Kleptocracy - A kleptocracy is a government or private system that extends the personal wealth and political power of a small elite class at the expense of the population.

The two most important questions I have are these:

Question #1: When will the criminals at the ratings agencies of Standard & Poor's, Moody's, etc. be put in prison?

Question #2: When will the criminals at investment banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers be put in prison?

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