Monday, November 24, 2008

Who is as dumb as a rock?

Scrambled logic
Detroit has been scrambling for money. The big three guys even went to Washington to testify on their needs. In the end the Congressional leaders were not impressed. No money boys. try again. Give us a plan.

But over the weekend Citigroup's shares dropped sharply and the Treasury couldn't trip over itself fast enough to cram MORE money into Citi's bank and indemnify it against some losses. Did Citi have to present 'a plan?" Right...

The Bank...40mpg and a free toaster
Maybe Detroit needs to make a new car called 'The Bank' so if THE BANK gets in trouble Detroiters can snap their fingers and get money.

Money, money, money, money, money

Banks are special...
Bankers are supposed to be so smart. In a paper written a number of years ago by former NY Fed Chief Gerry Corrigan, he opined on how banks are special, by raising the question. Corrigan wrote in 1982, so long ago that many of the rocket scientists on the Street had not yet been born - or at least were not reading treatises on banks or doing math except on their crib-based abacus. Banks have a special role in commerce and they have deposits insured with the public's money that they use to finance the assets on their balance sheets. Special? you bet...but then the banks did bet.

...But banks are not cool
Banks also are special as are most Wall Street firms because they deal in these intangible products. My God do you know how smart you have to be understand these things? Just try this experiment. Start talking to somebody at random about financial instruments or the outlook for interest rates or the key role of banks and financial intermediaries in an economy or the importance of the financial sector to a developing economy and see how quickly you will get the nick-name "Mr. Sleeping Pill".

Cars are cool
On the other hand start talking about cars, those with big engines or fancy European imports or cool paint jobs or specialty vehicles and suddenly you're Mr COOL. Yeah, cars are cool and even the guys on the assembly line that put them together can understand them. But talk the merits of a CD vs a TD vs a savings deposit or a money market mutual fund or MMDA deposit or AAARRHHHGGG!!!!

You see what I mean.

Cavernous cranium crowd
Yes any moron can talk with some degree of intelligence about a car. But finance is reserved for the cavernous cranium crowd. I guess that's why they had so many of us bamboozled as this financial crisis took hold. They took advantage of poor home owners using fancy financing products...then...wait a minute these valueless pieces of financial paper they created, they also put in their own portfolios. They leveraged it. They BLEW THEMSELVES UP like some middle eastern terrorist. KA BOOM! Or at least they tried... Some brainiacs they turned out to be, eh? But on second thought they were brainiacs, because, through it all, guess what? THEY GOT PAID.

TFBTFF (too friggin' big to friggin' fail)
When the dust settled after these metaphorical bombs went off, instead of seeing banks lying in pieces all over Wall Street, the the Fed and/or Treasury stepped in to glue the little mischievous monkeys back together with applications of new capital some specialized debt forgiveness and other tricks. Yes that's what makes banks special. The have the money in them earned by auto workers, pizza makers and bus drivers so banks can't be allowed to fail - at least not big ones. Imagine if we let them fail and then there were no pizza?

So selling a product that is too difficult even for its own creators to understand (instead of being confused by this statement think FRANKENSTEIN!) is a reason for the government to treat you in a real special way. Oh you have such a big brain. It is so full of such esoteric thoughts we forgive you for losing your way...and our money. Here, take some more won't you?

Auto sector is a GLOBAL issue so why pick on DETROIT?
You many have noticed that Sarkozy (France) and Merkel (Germany) issued a joint statement JUST TODAY(!) saying that they intend to defend their beleaguered auto industries. So why are the automakers in the United States of American pariahs? Maybe because their leaders were not properly contrite? Maybe because the Congress people that need to approve those loans just don't get it? Maybe Congress has too much bank-doo-doo on its shoes and it needed to rebel a bit and ripping auto execs was considered 'safe?' We know you can't rebel against a bank because God knows what might happen- look at what did happen when the Treasury Secretary let Lehman fail in the midst of a financial storm. He still can't come to grips with it as he argues he had no choice. Be a man Hank. Step up and and tell us REALLY why you let Lehman fail. What were the issues? Don't hold your breath waiting for him to answer. You never get clear answers when mistakes are made. So now Congress is just afraid. 'The Citi' may never sleep but it does sneeze and when it does HELP IS THERE!

Auto shows no CD displays
Bankers do not have an annual CD or bank deposit showroom. You can't show off your most recent financial creations the way you can show off a car - or test drive it...

In the end the lemon you make is equal to the justice you take
So Detroit gets stiffed and Citigroup gets paid. It's a delicious irony and juxtaposition in that it happens right after Paulson told us everything was ok and the financial sector had been stabilized. Tell me..can that guy leave Washington fast enough? And he was the Goldman guy that lobbied the regulators for the rule changes that allowed investment banks to use even more leverage. Paulson is the THE POSTER BOY for what is going on and he does not begin to show any sign that he understands it - let alone that he can fix it. The best and the brightest have become dumb as rocks. maybe bankers have second career as pet rocks. Maybe Paulson should go to work in Detroit where 'getting it' won't be as hard.

1 comment:


Maybe the rocks are smarter than the leaders in government.