May 12, 2010

But its legal!

Posted in Financial Markets, Social Commentary tagged , , at 10:02 am by Doug Brockway

This came across the e-mail today in a newsletter I read.  Its about the dealings of Goldman Sachs and their ilk in the mortgage market:  “It didn’t help, of course, that the rating agencies gave AAA ratings to many securities that were not AAA – even Enron carried an investment-grade rating days before it collapsed.”….

To me this is where one crux, at least, lies.  The sellers of CDO’s and buyers of related swaps overtly engineered high risk bonds to fool rating agencies’ standards and models and then used market pressure to get rating agencies to put their once good name on what may be legal but on the street corner is fraud.  The sellers invested a lot of time, days and weeks, in each security to do this and buyers, stupidly, made their decisions in minutes, not enough time to uncover the fraud.

My nephew the trader says they’re all big boys and should have known.  In “The Big Short” Michael Lewis shows time and again that when a bond trader calls you up to sell you something your first question is “how are they trying to f#%k me?”  But, as the hot market of the early 2000’s turned to the bubble of ’05-’07 we lost all honor among thieves.

Even if you say that’s OK, that it was “understood” (and I can’t get myself there, but leave that alone for a while), having that game played, and those risks taken based on those lies with post-Glass Stegal “main street” deposits, your and my bank deposits, is beyond disreputable.  When people suggest that its “legal” I think that so were the actions of King John,… technically….

April 29, 2010

Twitter, High School Musical and Inner Monologues

Posted in Social Commentary tagged , at 9:46 pm by Doug Brockway

A lot of the world is unhinged – pundits on cable “news”, teaparties, sports radio, things like The View.  They make my hair hurt.

My complaint is not just the constant noise of it.  Its the unconstrained ego, the overt clamoring to be seen and heard instead of any apparent concept of thoughtfulness and reflection.  One place you can see this is on Twitter.

For a while now I’ve been increasingly bothered by the difference between the persona someone has in real life and the one they display on Twitter.  There’s a well known marketing expert I follow a bit who writes intelligent books and, when I heard him on a recent webinar was clear, cogent, informative and well worth the time.   He also recently tweeted “The promise of social media lies not in self promotion, but in self-actualization”….  Words fail me.

This is mild compared to serial tweeters who link to 10, 15, 20 and more news items in a day and excitedly make sure you know they are aware of what’s up.

THAT’s mild compared to “I’m going to an important meeting with an important person” name dropping.

Most of this is from intelligent people with productive existences, as far as one can tell, who act this way on Twitter.  Its got the effect of turning things into “High School Musical.”

Then you find out about sites like Tweeting Too Hard,, where, as the wag says, self-important tweets get the recognition they deserve.

Here are the top two all time trying too hard tweets:

1.  OMG i was saying how i couldn’t afford the gas to fly daddy’s jet to the riviera this summer, and this barista totally rolled her eyes at me

@babesmcphee Share this morsel of twisdomFeed 7 Comments

2.  fan belt light came on in the 911 so now I’m driving the Cayenne Turbo S – the backup, backup car. Trying not to think about the Tesla…

@joshuabaer Share this morsel of twisdomFeed 10 Comments

From time-to-time I’ve been advised to tone down my humor or my commentary.  I can get snarky.  But these two tweets, and the amazing store of them at Tweeting Too Hard seem to have been written without any governor on the author’s inner monologue.

Its not just the Goldman Sachs executives who are totally clueless…  Well, perhaps Babes McPhee works at Goldman?

Twitter doesn’t create this aspect of people’s personalities.  It allows them to expose it in a public fashion accessible to anyone with a computer.  The amazing thing to me is that cognitive adults do exactly that.  Don’t they know that whining about fueling up daddy’s jet, in public, is foolish and crass?

Their self actualization may be the the problem.  I think they could use with a dollop of self awareness… too…

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