Thursday, February 11, 2010

Surrounded By Populists

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for February 11th, 2010


1) OK, so now I’m not so obsessed with Maria Bartiromo, because she was on the show for practically the whole morning and is like having the financial equivalent of an Al Qaeda double agent on. In one exchange, prior to Elizabeth Warren being on, Maria basically acted like your mean boss at Pizza Hut and said ‘Obama better stop being so leftist’ or face the consequences of Wall Street not supporting his presidency. That is so important, this is a person who has an early entry on the show and feels like there are no adversaries philosophically around her, so she can basically admit shoplifting American wealth from the middle class is OK, because we (Wall Street) said it was ok, now get back to work.

The only thing missing from this was how when Joe Scarborough tackled the backwards logic of Maria’s sentiment, he did not send the debate towards Joe Conason, who you know must’ve been seething. That was an unfortunate edit. But look, if you’re going to try and gain intelligence from double agent Maria, and she already has alluded to the Wall Street sentiment, that they know what they’re doing so stay out of the way, maybe this was strategy, for she must be willing to eclipse that data with some further even more significant watershed.

And watershed we got, because after Elizabeth Warren, cloaked in a ‘bank fees will cost jobs and be passed on to the consumer’ false ideology, which Conason heckled, was the real nugget: “proprietary trading didn’t cause the financial meltdown, sub prime mortgages did”. America, digest Wall Street’s internal thought process upon light of day, as they attempt to explain away their role in your disaster. That viewpoint is revolutionary for a number of reasons.

The securitization of sub prime mortgages in a hedge environment that included default swap insurance products is a direct product of proprietary trading. Proprietary trading is a trade a company does for itself and not for its client. Goldman sold securitized sub prime mortgages on behalf of clients, and then collected default swaps against them proprietarily. It wasn’t the first time they did this. It was oil for a while, it was dot com for a while, it was sub prime mortgages balanced by default swaps for a while. All bubbles, all ended badly, seemingly as if the proprietary trading was pushing those markets off a cliff on purpose, right Maria?

Maria makes two mistakes with one unhealthy view from the inside, because not only was proprietary trading a hierarchical financial pattern overseeing the sub prime crisis, today, funded by the government, the proprietary trading that is occurring is doing one thing very, very badly, it is not serving the US economy. To put it simply if your proprietary equation today was to find the cheapest manufacturer of an item in order to create wealth in a New York based trade, you would trade a US job to China instantly. To put it in a macro sense, the money being given to Goldman Sachs by the US Treasury is specifically monetizing the continuing destabilization of the US job economy. The tax payer is funding his own job loss and the profit from the trade is retained by Lloyd Blankfein.

And for 120 minutes, Maria Bartiromo was the face of that transaction. Willingly.

2) Elizabeth Warren has made a youtube moment for our time and it occurred today on Morning Joe. She called out the highest level of leadership: both the Wall Street crowd, and undoubtedly, Barack Obama himself. Her words said loudly, you’re either really dumb, or you’re committing a crime against the American people.

Praise to Joe Scarborough for trotting out the ‘transfer of wealth’ line in goading Maria, above, to spill the secrets of the castle. But it was not needed in the Warren segment, as she has become the populist and consumerist juggernaut for finance that Howard Dean is to health care.

“He doesn’t ask me for advice” quipped Warren about the President as she mused about the administration appearing for sale in trading ever weakening financial reform, that is more a securing of the status quo than reform, for campaign money. At this point, it’s obvious the only way to trust Tim Geithner, is if he works for Elizabeth Warren and she signs off on his work, Summers, same, Volker, same. President Obama, it’s right there for the taking.

“It’s not competition when you can legally contract competition away from a transaction”

“This is banks versus people”

You don’t need to add any observation to that.

3) All in all, Morning Joe continues on a hot streak of a previously unseen level. I wish they didn’t waste appearances by Conason and Haas, but that’s live television. They self edited altruism from the conversation with Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, they have been relentless on getting Elizabeth Warren on and exposing the dangerous high level math going on in the financial world, versus the algebraic placation attempts by Maria Bartiromo, and not by making judgment but making the foundations of the two arguments stand to be judged themselves.

I feel like I felt yesterday. If it’s true that the White House has this show on in the morning, they have to be a bit on the despondent side. We all make mistakes, and when Bush made mistakes, he could just switch the channel to Fox. But Obama doesn’t have a base bathed in doublespeak and Orwellian message. When he tries to use that kind of messaging, his base actually revolts. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good”. Your base does not hear higher order logic there, they hear capitulation.

This is going somewhere important. This president is neither conservative, nor liberal, centrist or extreme. He is looking for opportunity, but unfortunately each of his mandates feel more like a business deal than governing.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

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