Matt Taibbi’s new book, Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America, comes out next month. There is an excerpt at RollingStone.com that is well worth your time to read:

“America is quite literally for sale, at rock-bottom prices, and the buyers increasingly are the very people who scored big in the oil bubble. Thanks to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and the other investment banks that artificially jacked up the price of gasoline over the course of the last decade, Americans delivered a lot of their excess cash into the coffers of sovereign wealth funds like the Qatar Investment Authority, the Libyan Investment Authority, Saudi Arabia’s SAMA Foreign Holdings, and the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Here’s yet another diabolic cycle for ordinary Americans, engineered by the grifter class. A Pennsylvanian like Robert Lukens sees his business decline thanks to soaring oil prices that have been jacked up by a handful of banks that paid off a few politicians to hand them the right to manipulate the market. Lukens has no say in this; he pays what he has to pay. Some of that money of his goes into the pockets of the banks that disenfranchise him politically, and the rest of it goes increasingly into the pockets of Middle Eastern oil companies. And since he’s making less money now, Lukens is paying less in taxes to the state of Pennsylvania, leaving the state in a budget shortfall. Next thing you know, Governor Ed Rendell is traveling to the Middle East, trying to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the same oil states who’ve been pocketing Bob Lukens’s gas dollars. It’s an almost frictionless machine for stripping wealth out of the heart of the country, one that perfectly encapsulates where we are as a nation.

When you’re trying to sell a highway that was once considered one of your nation’s great engineering marvels — 532 miles of hard-built road that required tons of dynamite, wood, and steel and the labor of thousands to bore seven mighty tunnels through the Allegheny Mountains — when you’re offering that up to petro-despots just so you can fight off a single-year budget shortfall, just so you can keep the lights on in the state house into the next fiscal year, you’ve entered a new stage in your societal development.

You know how you used to have a job, and a house, and a car, and a wife and a family, and there was food in the fridge — and now you’re six months into a drug habit and you’re carrying toasters and TVs out the front door every morning just to raise the cash to make it through that day? That’s where we are. While a lot of this book is about how American banks used bubble schemes to strip the last meat off the bones of America’s postwar golden years, the cruelest joke is that American banks now don’t even have the buying power needed to finish the job of stripping the country completely clean.

For that last stage we have to look overseas, to more cash-rich countries we now literally have to beg to take our national monuments off our hands at huge discounts, just so that our states don’t fall one by one in a domino rush of defaults and bankruptcies. In other words, we’re being colonized — of course it’s happening in a clever way, with very careful paperwork, so we have the option of pretending that it’s not actually happening, right up until the bitter end.”

Griftopia will be the last remaining post-crash books I can muster the strength to read, as I am suffering from post-bailout/recession/collapse fatigue.

I don’t always agree with Taibbi’s conclusions, but he manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of the nation’s angst better than anyone else.

>

Sources:
Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America

Exclusive Excerpt: America on Sale, From Matt Taibbi’s ‘Griftopia’
Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone, Oct 18, 2010
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/222206#

Category: Bailouts, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

90 Responses to “Welcome to life in the Grifter Archipelago”

  1. b_thunder says:

    As the Amazon’s description writes “The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn’t past but prologue. ”

    I’m afraid this is true, this is not beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. So, there will be many more new books worth reading…. until after a decade of right-wing fevers and left wing chills, books similar to this one will be banned.
    There’s no was to resolve this 100% peacefully. The “Rally to restore Sanity” and similar voices (in the wilderness) is not nearly enough to change the regime.

  2. chartist says:

    High oil and gas prices were the price of peace, at least to a degree, in the middle east…..You either give them the money through the gas pump or you pay through ever higher military expenditures and loss of rights within this country.

  3. Alaric says:

    This book sounds like utter rubbish !

    BR – for someone who considers himself an analysts focused on data, it is surprising that you would want to read this unsupported editorial…..

    ~~~

    BR: As I have written (repeatedly) in the past, I don’t always agree with Taibbi’s conclusions, but he manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of the nation’s angst better than anyone else.

    Damned, that is a pretty sentence . . . I may have to move it to the actual body of the post.

  4. Alaric says:

    I would suggest that readers of this blog would be much better served if they read the chapter on the social effects of the Great German Inflation in Bresciani-Turroni’s “Economics of Inflation” rather than Tiabbi’s tripe…

    Particularly since the Fed is going to embark on a money printing extravaganza!

    http://www.amazon.com/Economics-Inflation-Currency-Depreciation-Post-War/dp/0678060304

  5. number2son says:

    for someone who considers himself an analysts focused on data, it is surprising that you would want to read this unsupported editorial

    It’s a prologue, friend. You know what that means? Ok, I’ll tell you. It is the introduction to the major themes of the book that the author intends to develop at length in the pages that follow. To provide support, as it were.

    Sheesh.

  6. ACS says:

    Short term bubbles, like the run to $147 in oil, can be manipulated but let’s be honest, the long-term uptrend is the result of two factors: increased demand mostly thanks to our suicidal relationship with China and Dollar debasement thanks to our inability to live within our means.

  7. BennyProfane says:

    Griftopia – now, that’s a great word.

  8. Alaric says:

    number2son –

    Tiabbi states that two banks “artificially jacked up the price of gasoline over the course of the last decade” – really?

    Show me the data / show me the facts.

    ~~~

    BR: Goldman Sachs changed the weighting of Oil repeatedly over the years of the influential GSCI (commodities index), must notably dropping the weighting before the 2006 election. (Perhaps that qualifies as manipulation?)

    They have since sold the index.

  9. Alaric:
    What’s your problem? Maye you ought to talk to someone who lives in PA and knows exactly what went on? And knows that Taibbi, as much as you might hate him for whatever reason, is right. Republicans, and a some Democrats, want to turn us into a banana republic. Do you not see that?

  10. ubnutsagain says:

    Who is Matt Taibbi, I ask myself, and what are his credentials for such an all-sweeping book?

    From http://www.matttaibbi.com

    ****
    “Taibbi spent his childhood in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Concord Academy and Bard College at Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, then spent a year abroad at Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University. His father is Mike Taibbi, an NBC television reporter.

    “In 1992 Taibbi moved to Uzbekistan, but was forced to leave six months later after writing articles critical of the country’s president, Islom Karimov. Afterwards, Taibbi worked for The Moscow Times as a sports editor, before moving on to work in Russia and Mongolia as a professional athlete and as a correspondent for Montsame, the Mongolian National News Agency.

    “Taibbi then took a break from journalism and turned to professional sports. He was one of the first Americans to play Russian pro baseball, playing center field for Spartak Moscow. While playing professional basketball in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, Taibbi contracted a serious case of pneumonia and returned to Boston for treatment. After recovering with his family, he returned to Russia and became editor of the expat paper Living Here. He then joined Mark Ames in 1997 to co-edit the controversial English-language Moscow-based, bi-weekly free newspaper, The eXile. Taibbi said about that experience, “We were out of the reach of American libel law, and we had a situation where we weren’t really accountable to our advertisers. We had total freedom.”

    ‘In 2002, he returned to the U.S. to start the satirical bi-weekly The Beast in Buffalo, New York. He eventually left The Beast, declaring that “Running a business and writing is too much.” Taibbi continued as a freelancer, writing for The Nation, Playboy, New York Press (where he wrote a regular political column for over two years), Rolling Stone, New York Sports Express (where he was Editor at Large), but with reservations. “For me, it’s a career failure. I wanted to be a novelist,” he announced at an NYU lecture. In 2004, while Taibbi followed the democratic campaign of the 2004 US presidential election, he wore a gorilla suit in front of campaign staffers and took LSD at a major debate.[dead link]

    “Taibbi left the New York Press in August 2005, shortly after his editor Jeff Koyen was forced to quit over issues raised by Taibbi’s column “The 52 Funniest Things About The Upcoming Death of The Pope.” “I have since learned that there would not have been an opportunity for me to stay anyway,” Taibbi later wrote.

    “Taibbi went on to serve as a Contributing Editor at Rolling Stone, penning feature-length articles on both domestic and international affairs and a weekly political column titled “The Low Post” for the magazine’s Web site. Taibbi continues to write for the print edition of Rolling Stone, but has stopped contributing to his online column. A later online column titled “Year of the Rat” was meant to document the 2008 election season, but it ended after only a few postings.

    “Taibbi served as a special correspondent for Real Time with Bill Maher offering political coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, and he has made several guest appearances on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the 2009 economic crisis.

    “In 2009 in Rolling Stone he described Goldman Sachs as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

    “Taibbi also writes a column called the “The Sports Blotter” for the free weekly newspaper the Boston Phoenix. The column provides a rundown of the arrests, civil suits, and criminal trials involving professional athletes.

    “In 2008, Taibbi was awarded the National Magazine Award in the category “Columns and Commentary” for his Rolling Stone columns.”
    *******

    As for what he brings to this particular table of ideas … maybe his book is worth reading, but my gut says it isn’t.

  11. dead hobo says:

    To some extent, this is just a book on basic and fundamental applied international economics. To balance trade, outflows must equal inflows. Cash flows out of country for oil and other imports. Cash returns via exports or sale of debt or sale of assets, such as Chicago parking meters. With the annual deficits at historic high amounts now and for the coming several years, the things mentioned in this story will become commonplace. The debt will have to be repaid via higher taxes, the printing press, or more asset sales. Or exports (ha ha).

    QE2 will enhance this process by causing commodity prices to rise substantially. This will cause more cash to flow out of country. As a result, more of the US will have to be sold to balance the books. The Fed and its printing press will help demise the US economy and the domestic ownership of US assets in the future by this process. It’s as inevitable as gravity. The Fed is essentially turning the US over to foreigners, although the time lag will be so long between QE2 and the payback they will be able to evade responsibility.

    The fact that crooks and incompetents control the US negotiating position in the repatriation process doesn’t help us much, either. The crooks are probably thinking, “Thanks for the free money. The chumps will pay higher prices now, we’ll get rich and/or keep our jobs, and maybe someone down the road will stiff the foreigners for trusting us to pay them back. At least we won’t have to pay for it.”

  12. RandyClayton says:

    At the time oil ran to about $150 a barrel the world economy was yet to see the financial crisis.

    Look at a chart of daily world oil production. It’s been flat now for a decade. As predicted by peak oil theory, production will not grow past 85 million barrels per day.

    The financial crisis and worldwide recession has reduced oil demand. Once the world economy recovers and growth resumes oil prices will rapidly rise and eclipse the old highs.

    The idea that brokers could buy enough oil contracts to move oil to $150 per barrel is preposterous. They cannot take delivery like the Hunt brothers did when they manipulated silver prices by buying and taking delivery of an entire year of silver consumption back in the late 70′s or early 80′s.

  13. Mannwich says:

    Here come the character assassinations in all colors and stripes. So predictable. The Stockholm Syndromers are out in full force. Still. Or maybe these are the folks who have the most to lose when others tell the truth?

  14. JMelville says:

    Maybe Mr. Taibbis’ next book can catalogue the bankrupting of PA by a bloated, corrupt state legislature and their enablers the unions. That world marvel the Turnpike hasn’t changed in 60 years and the price to ride keeps going up! PA — a great place to be FROM.

  15. Mannwich says:

    The fact that anyone thinks oil at $150/barrel in 2008 wasn’t at least partially the result of some shenanigans by connected players is delusion writ large. It’s astonishing. These must be the same people who still think that our “markets” are somehow legitimate.

  16. Mannwich says:

    The old canard – the “evil unions” did it!! That’s it. It was the UNIONS that destroyed this great nation. Good grief.

  17. dougc says:

    It’s amusing how outraged people are about what happened but blissfully ignored those who predicted what the results of our trade, tax and monetrary polcies would be. Instead of pondering the past, spend a few minutes reading what forward thinking people like Marc Faber predict will happen/

  18. dead hobo says:

    Mannwich Says:
    October 22nd, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The old canard – the “evil unions” did it!! That’s it. It was the UNIONS that destroyed this great nation. Good grief.

    reply:
    ———
    Plus the CRA, liberals, taxes, the left wing media, and everyone else who gets in the way of the right people taking over.

  19. Mannwich says:

    @dougc: Who exactly here on this blog “blissfully ignored” anything in recent years? Sometimes I think that is a far more pleasing alternative though.

  20. Alaric says:

    Calvin Jones – “What’s your problem?”

    My issue is this: there are quite a few unsubstiantiated opinions in Mr. Taibbi’s work and as someone who spends quite a bit of time trying to understand markets, I rate unsubstiantiated opinions pretty low in quality.

    As Mr. Ritholtz likes to say, ‘where is the data’ behind these assertions…..?

  21. Mannwich says:

    @dead hobo: Don’t forget, and “those people”. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

  22. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    ubnutsagain Says:

    Who is Matt Taibbi, I ask myself, and what are his credentials for such an all-sweeping book?
    ____________

    In addition to the resume you provide, minimally, his credentials would have to include ownership of a pencil or computer, some paper, and at least some continuing proficiency in English composition. And he makes a living off of journalism. And he has a publisher.

    What’s with everybody listening to their guts nowadays? The only time I listen to my guts is when I’m hungry, need to take a dump, or puke.

  23. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Alaric Says:

    “My issue is this: there are quite a few unsubstiantiated opinions in Mr. Taibbi’s work and as someone who spends quite a bit of time trying to understand markets, I rate unsubstiantiated opinions pretty low in quality.”
    _________

    Agreed. I’ve read a bit of Taibbi’s writing, and having done so, I find your opinion of his work to be unsubstantiated.

  24. Mannwich says:

    @Alaric: But here’s the thing – if more in the MSM did was Taibbi was doing, namely peeling back the veil on some of the shenanigans that have gone on, and still go on, much to the detriment of the country, maybe more people will start paying attention so that we fix these issues. Taibbi, writing for the ROLLING STONE of all publications, is filling a void that other so-called “journalists” are leaving for him to explain these complicated things in a straightforward (and often caustic, witty) manner that most people can understand. You and others here may prefer data but I can tell you the vast majority (by far) in this country couldn’t give a rat’s ass about data.

  25. number2son says:

    Show me the data / show me the facts.

    Read the book.

  26. Mannwich says:

    I also love how one has to somehow have “credentials” to be able to do real investigative journalist work and writing. That’s been one of our biggest issues as a country for way too long – our bent towards only listening to those who have “credentials”, namely an Ivy League pedigree. It’s quite elitist rubbish if you ask me.

  27. dougc says:

    @mannich. This did not start 2 years ago it began in 1981 with politicans telling us that the way to balance the budget was to cut taxes and “eventually the trade imbalance would turn around”. etc

  28. dead hobo says:

    Re the price of oil:

    The Fed isn’t completely responsible. Nobody knows how much of the price of oil is caused by trading systems, long only index funds, and the like that cause oceans of money to chase hot commodities like oil. The Fed will only make this process worse with QE2 oriented asset inflation. The SEC and CFTC share massive blame here, also. Via their incompetence and slavish obedience to commodity moguls, exchanges, and brokerages, the SEC and CFTC are also highly responsible for giving the US away and lowering out standard of living, likely in perpetuity.

  29. Alaric says:

    (1) “BR: Goldman Sachs changed the weighting of Oil repeatedly over the years of the influential GSCI (commodities index), must notably dropping the weighting before the 2006 election. (Perhaps that qualifies as manipulation?)”

    I agree with you here, however, it is very questionable to assert that this drove oil prices higher…..
    Perhaps a better story is the mapulation of government CPI statistics since Chairman Martin in the 1970s (and the inherint conflict of interest here)

    (2) BR: As I have written (repeatedly) in the past, I don’t always agree with Taibbi’s conclusions, but he manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of the nation’s angst better than anyone else.”

    I agree here to an extent, however, would argue that the more meaningful Zeitgeist is and will be that caused by the Fed’s zero interest rate policy, Debt Monetization, and its effect on older people living off fixed incomes (ie, what where traditionally referred to as the “Rentier Class”.

    The forced confiscation of assets of the Rentier Class by the Fed is and will be more of a theme than the ‘blame the banks’ theme once more people realize the intent of the Fed.

  30. Mannwich says:

    Agreed dougc, but I was just a wee kid in ’81 and only began really opening my eyes within the past 5-7 years.

  31. Alaric says:

    Manwich – “ROLLING STONE of all publications, is filling a void that other so-called “journalists” are leaving for him to explain these complicated things in a straightforward (and often caustic, witty) manner that most people can understand.”

    I would suggest that if you want to understand the mechanics of world commidity markets, something other Rolling Stone is probably appropriate….

  32. Dow says:

    The asset stripping is everywhere.

    California seals deal to sell 11 state properties
    By David Siders, Sacramento Bee, October 12, 2010

    The recession-battered state said Monday that it will sell 11 office properties for $2.3 billion to a group of private investors based in Texas and Irvine, all but finalizing an agreement between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to raise cash in the budget crisis.
    The state would lease the buildings back for at least 20 years. The deal is controversial because of questions about the long-term costs of renting.

    Here are the 11 state-owned buildings that will be sold under a $2.3 billion deal announced Monday.

    • Attorney General Building, Sacramento

    • California Emergency Management Agency Building, Sacramento

    • Capitol Area East End Complex, Sacramento

    • Franchise Tax Board Complex, Sacramento

    • Department of Justice Building, Sacramento

    • San Francisco Civic Center, San Francisco

    • Elihu M. Harris Building, Oakland

    • Public Utilities Commission Building, San Francisco

    • Judge Joseph A. Rattigan Building, Santa Rosa

    • Ronald Reagan State Building, Los Angeles

    • Junipero Serra State Building, Los Angeles

    Also for sale are a variety of properties through out the state. It’s a dream come true for developers.

    State Surplus Property For Sale – including historic buildings:

    • 2nd Orange County Fairgrounds

    • California Institution for Men Chino

    • Downtown San Diego Office Building

    • Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility

  33. The fascist Ed Rendell is as dull as a butter knife, as is our fascist commander in chief. These men are easily buried on the political scene with thoughtful recitation of American history during times of crisis. Contrasting their economic policies with those implemented in Italy during the reign of Benito Mussolini offers a truthful, useful starting point for counterpoising the American System of Political Economy as understood by Alexander Hamilton, J.Q. Adams, Henry Clay, Matthew Carey, Abe Lincoln and FDR, just to name a few. The voices of many seditious souls among us can be silenced in an instant.

    No doubt, the sanctity of freedom of political association here in the U.S. requires grave crisis to pave the way for sweeping away those utterly uncreative, failed personalities such as we find in leadership positions today. Judging by systemic fraud coming to light in the build out of the residential mortgage backed securities market, the very lynch pin to our contemporary, wildcat credit system is about to blow. Hello grave crisis and buh-bye fascists.

  34. Mannwich says:

    Fair enough, Alaric, but the rest of the country won’t be digging anywhere near as deep into the commodity markets as you and others do here, so for me, Taibbi is better than nothing.

  35. ACS says:

    dougc, 1981? I guess things were peachy-keen back in the 1970s.

  36. Transor Z says:

    dead hobo Says:
    October 22nd, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Mannwich Says:
    October 22nd, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The old canard – the “evil unions” did it!! That’s it. It was the UNIONS that destroyed this great nation. Good grief.

    reply:
    ———
    Plus the CRA, liberals, taxes, the left wing media, and everyone else who gets in the way of the right people taking over.

    sur-reply:
    ——
    And the anti-foreclosure consumer lawyers. Don’t forget them. Because their salaries tend not to support $200 greens fees. Lowlifes.

  37. Alaric says:

    Mannwich —- Respectfully disagree – uninformed analysis and these blanket generalizations are ultimately harmful….Think Palin, etc….

  38. Mannwich says:

    @Transor: LOL. Exactly. What are the little people thinking trying to get in on the action a little for themselves? Bunch of dirtbags.

  39. Mannwich says:

    @Alaric: Well, we agree to disagree. I happen to think that Taibbi is SLIGHTLY more informed than the likes if Sarah Palin.

  40. Mannwich says:

    I guess you must work in the industry, Alaric? That’s cool. I’d have to drink the Kool Aide of the industry that I worked in as well, or at least sip it from time to time (or fake sipping the Jim Jones juice).

  41. Alaric says:

    Mannwich – I agree with you; here is something to ponder: if Taibbi had a reality show, what sort of reality TV show would it be?

  42. dougc says:

    @asc. At least in 1970 we had an economy.trade policies and tax policies that allowed us to come back. We can argue about where to place the blame but it is futile , I repeat read what forward thinking people that have been right in the past about whatn is going to happen J Rogers and M Faber are examples.

  43. dead hobo says:

    Mannwich Says:
    October 22nd, 2010 at 10:21 am

    @Transor: LOL. Exactly. What are the little people thinking trying to get in on the action a little for themselves? Bunch of dirtbags.

    reply:
    ————
    I give up. I think it’s time to trust in the competence and intentions of our leaders. In fact, I’m going to purchase me some stocks just to buy and hold for a decade or so.

  44. Alaric says:

    Mannwich – I work for myself…..
    http://alaricinvestments.wordpress.com/

  45. ToNYC says:

    Writing is an still considered an Art and not a Science. The fact that the word pictures and images that Matt constructs are not Representational enough to anyone in particular is their issue. The ideas he expresses are not only his own, but a horror movie that he envisioned that others have been seeing in the collective consciousness. Take it or leave it.

  46. DeDude says:

    You don’t need to have credentials to write in a topic, you need to have facts in support of your opinions and analysis. Matt Taibbi has had a pretty good track record of being able to support what he says with facts. He tend to push his opinion a bit beyond what the facts can bear but that is part of getting people to think and realize that there is something to what he says. So he definitely deserves to be heard out on this one. I don’t think that all of the past decades oil price increase is caused by manipulation, but that is not what he is saying anyway. If anybody thinks they can explain the jump in oil from $80 to $150 and back down to $80 by natural supply and demand – I would love to see their data.

  47. DeDude says:

    “it began in 1981 with politicans telling us that the way to balance the budget was to cut taxes”

    I know they offered us all a free lunch and the sheeple thought that was great. They did not advertise that the free lunch to most people was a few carrot sticks, whereas the first class section of the restaurant was served caviar and champagne. Now they tell us that we have to wash all the dishes, while the first class section is being served truffles and cognac. And the brainwashed sheeple chants “no new taxes” while the cruelest of all taxes, inflation, is getting ready to send them out to wash the toilets with their bare hands and no brush.

  48. bergsten says:

    @Dow — “California seals deal to sell 11 state properties”

    I wonder if they have clear title?

    Hee hee hee

  49. DeDude says:

    “The Fed will only make this process worse with QE2 oriented asset inflation”

    Just like Greenspan in his single minded pursuits forgot about the collateral damage of low interest rates, the current Fed is also neglecting to analyze the collateral damage of their “solutions”. To bad that our system for policy making has become so dysfunctional that we all we seem able to get done is slowing the sinking of the ship.

  50. Mannwich says:

    @bergie: “Titles”, “money”, these are just concepts, illusions, if you will.

  51. ubnutsagain says:

    “That’s been one of our biggest issues as a country for way too long – our bent towards only listening to those who have “credentials”, namely an Ivy League pedigree. It’s quite elitist rubbish if you ask me.”

    ****

    Sounds like criticism of the Obama Administration.

  52. Mannwich says:

    Exactly ub. Obama was let into “the club” and is now drinking huge gulps of the Jones-juice. Not just him either. W, Clinton, HW, and most high level positions in government, banking and big corporate America. The oligarchy lives on.

  53. daf48 says:

    Wasn’t blogs like these a marvel of brilliance! A chance for people who don’t have a say in the way things are done, to sound like they know what went wrong, when in fact they are vessels for a particular meme.
    The unions are to blame! No, it was the bankers! Blah, Blah, Blah. There’s a Muslim over there, let’s get out of here! If it were possible to have a perfect world, don’t you think all our Best and the Brightest would’ve figured it out by now? No?
    Most of our systems are run on the basis of dead ideas, and so you get the Tea-Party railing against a changing world. When the Global Economic system appears to be leveling the playing field between the US and the rest of the world, fear arises that my comfort level may take a haircut.
    So as the French take to the streets to oppose Neo-Liberalism, We take to the blogs.

  54. ACS says:

    Well the Alexander Hamilton I’ve read about conspired to cheat holders of Revolutionary War debt while starting the first central bank. Aaron Burr was ten years too late.

  55. Patrick Neid says:

    “You know how you used to have a job, and a house, and a car, and a wife and a family, and there was food in the fridge — and now you’re six months into a drug habit and you’re carrying toasters and TVs out the front door every morning just to raise the cash to make it through that day? That’s where we are.”

    That’s why Rolling Stone fans and others read Taibbi. A new kind of gonzo.

  56. apachecadillac says:

    In reply to ubnutsagain–maybe Taibbi does bring something to this particular intellectual table–at least, if you buy the idea that it takes one to know one.

  57. VRWC says:

    The country IS waking up to the public union problem;

    The Chris Christie Clones

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023804575566674063991174.html?mod=WSJ_hps_sections_opinion

    And even liberals are waking up to the slimy union educrats who have destroyed our K thru 12 system;

    http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/action/?gclid=CPPe7MHq5qQCFSg1gwodEgh60Q

  58. Stranded_in_CA says:

    Wow, Matt sure has some of the posters here screaming like stuck porcines and doing full out character assassination. Could it be that these good fellas are neck deep in the very things that Taibbi exposes and condemns? Probably.

    And exposure is the last thing these people want. Might scare off customers, err victims.

  59. ewmayer says:

    I think Barry meant to say

    “I don’t always agree with Taibbi’s Sturm-und-Drang-filled Weltanschauung, but he manages to tap into the Zeitgeist of the nation’s angst better than anyone else, without indulging in cheap Schadenfreude.”

    I bet the lib-arts chicks at NYU really go for that sort of schmart-sounding stuff. “So, do you kommen hier often, babykuchen?”

  60. Thor says:

    Stranded – Yes.

    Alacaric – To say that your chosen profession gives you a slightly biased viewpoint of this topic would be a gross understatement.

    You can choose to ignore Taibbi because he apparently doesn’t have the right “credentials”. Many of us will choose to ignore you because your are knee deep in this world of money.

  61. packman says:

    Mannwich Says:

    “The fact that anyone thinks oil at $150/barrel in 2008 wasn’t at least partially the result of some shenanigans by connected players is delusion writ large. It’s astonishing. These must be the same people who still think that our “markets” are somehow legitimate.”

    It all depends on how you define “shenanigans”. There’s a big difference between “manipulation” and “speculation”. The disagreement lies in whether oil prices were the former or the latter; both views IMO are very valid and not delusional. In the latter case the markets are still legitimate – just flawed by human nature.

    (And P.S. the line between manipulation and speculation is also sometimes gray – e.g. if you’re a big player and decide that company XYZ is a good buy, and buy a million shares, and that purchase actually makes the share price go up $1 – is that manipulation, or just speculation?)

  62. red_pill says:

    Taibbi’s a clever sensationalist writer. What he’s talking about is no different than what wealthy empires including ours have been doing for centuries but I guess it’s ok when we do it but not vice versa. The swf’s in the aggregate are still dwarfed by the size of our investments abroad. If we invest in stocks abroad that is the same exact thing as buying that turnpike.

  63. dss says:

    @Manny,

    You forgot the Muslim founders of Acorn.

    And the man behind the curtain is still laughing all the way to the bank.

  64. Alaric says:

    Thor – “To say that your chosen profession gives you a slightly biased viewpoint of this topic would be a gross understatement. You can choose to ignore Taibbi because he apparently doesn’t have the right “credentials”. Many of us will choose to ignore you because your are knee deep in this world of money.”

    1. I am a private speculator (not a banker, etc) – I have been interested in markets for quite a long time and have been around long enough to remember when economics textbooks had a chapter on inflation….

    2. I do not ignore Taibbi – I simply do not give him much creedence since many assertions are not backed up with factual data that can be substansiated.

    3. I have more of an interest these days in “money” and in particular Fed policy because I must, since the Fed is going to intentionally devalue the currency – I would suggest that everyone pay attention….the last ones off the train are going to be very hurt indeed after the experimentation runs its course…

  65. dss says:

    Taibbi and Jon Stewart, both ridiculed by the MSM, Faux News, and apologists of the right.

    The only truth tellers these days are a much reviled (or revered) journalist, and a cable network comedian; both whom use irreverent and scathing techniques to reveal how rotten this country has become.

    Sure, sure, shoot the messenger, but you cannot deny their message.

  66. Mannwich says:

    Them too, dss. Meanwhile, after the rapacious capitalists complete their pillaging of the country, We the Sheeple can sit around and complain to each about how it was “those people” (and Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid) who ruined the country. It won’t be entirely true but it will make us feel good emotionally so we press onward with the histrionics. It feels too good not to.

  67. dss says:

    @number2son,

    Even when shown the “numbers or the facts” they will continue to protest. It’s the American way these days. Black is white, up is down. The brainwashing is complete and on view every day.

  68. Mannwich says:

    @Alaric: I certainly agree with your last point. Checked out your site too. Interesting stuff.

  69. Thor says:

    Alarcic – Going to have to agree with Manny here. We’ll agree to disagree. ;-)

  70. Thor says:

    Also – keep in mind Taibi’s audience. For the most part it is not us, it’s middle America. People with very little understanding of how all of these things work and how all the parts fit together.

    His overall message is what matters I think.

  71. dss says:

    @Manny,

    They have the strategy perfected, demonize everyone in America who stands in their way, use propaganda or scare tactics to herd the sheeple’s minds into tiny little pens, and repeat the same thing over and over again: Liberals are evil and are at the root of all of our problems, Obama is a Muslim, Brown people should be deported (except for my brown people as I need them to mow my lawn, clean my house and take care of my kids), tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations stimulate the economy, and did I mention that Obama is a Socialist Muslim?

    The brainwashing is complete when you have senior citizens on Medicare and Social Security railing against the welfare state and big government and the lower classes complaining about the “death tax”.

    Nothing surprises me anymore in America.

  72. FrancoisT says:

    @Alaric
    “I would suggest that if you want to understand the mechanics of world commidity markets, something other Rolling Stone is probably appropriate….”

    And I would suggest that true comprehension comes from data analysis and Zeitgeist synthesis. Take disease for instance (my field). I can data-drown you about the fine points of the molecular mechanisms of neoplasm (a.k.a. cancer) but in the end, no true comprehension of the phenomenon can be achieved if you have no idea of what it’ll do to a human being in flesh and blood.

    Now, it may be the case that you feel more at ease with cold and hard data, and that’s fine. But don’t denigrate the importance of the other side of the coin, ie. the Zeitgeist; you’ll be missing something crucial.

    That said, remember Sherlock Holmes: For 50 that can think synthetically, one can think analytically.

  73. Alaric says:

    Hi FrancoisT –

    I do not disagree with you generally, we all need to have context for data/informaiton, say a “big picture” view to analyze information.

    I am not convinced, however, that (1) Taibbi’s “Zeitgeist” accurately reflects the state of the nation…..or (2) that his narratives accurately illustrate what occurred in the oil market in particular during the last peak.

    We can definitely differ on (1) above, based on how we view politics, etc, however (2) the narrative on the last oil price peak – should be based on more factual data…..and also questions unasked, such as – how could prices be driven so high without general shortages in the U.S. (outside of the southeast where there were shortages)?

  74. Sunny129 says:

    If Matt Tabbi has written some thing ‘unsubstantiated’ on GS, don’t you think he would be under libel suits neck deep? He has some ‘balls’ to take on the God’s broker! Before Vampire Squid essay, was there any MSM reporter reporting on GS? I know there was GS666.com.

    I don’t believe everything he says blindly but he has guts and spine to speak ‘truth on the reality of things’ covered by ‘kool aid’ of MSM controlled by Corp. Did any of those multi million earning wh*res MSM out there in the Media do any ‘objective’ reporting in public’s interest?

    Focus on the messages and not try to belittle or beat up the messenger complaining he is not perfect. Are you? Does any one else?

  75. Alaric says:

    Sunny129 – it is quite difficult for plaintiffs to win libel suits here in the US…….

  76. bergsten says:

    I have a simple formula for this stuff — I’ll read it if I have the time and it has a reasonable chance of being entertaining. I certainly wouldn’t expect to learn anything, change anything I think or do, or otherwise better myself or society.

    The only “pre-judging” I would do is to assume it has some sort of ax to grind (agenda), is overly sensationalistic and emotional (in order to garner an audience and make money), and that it is largely based on subjectively chosen, non-primary-sources.

    In other words, just like everything else published and broadcasted.

  77. bergsten says:

    @Sunny129 — “If Matt Tabbi has written some thing ‘unsubstantiated’ on GS, don’t you think he would be under libel suits neck deep.”

    Please go look up “absence of malice.”

  78. ToNYC says:

    In all of this there seems to be little focus that the ZIRP program has been embedded since the mid 00”s and has robbed the good savings (the only real wealth medium of storage/and source of real currency medium of exchange as product of specialization). The FRS has invented flash crash cash to smoke and mirrors us out of the chamber of debt horrors they have enabled to fantasize a job depletion economic model. Why the Tea Party doesn’t have for its first Plank: Repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and replace it with a real Domestic GNP algorithm run by MBA students at MIT Sloan without the benefit of political porkers.

  79. freitagfan says:

    The US doesn’t buy much oil from the middle east so really it’s Europeans and Asians putting US Dollars into their pockets.

    The banks didn’t manipulate the price of oil. Oil price manipulation has been repeatedly looked at throughout the decades and they never have shown proof of a sustain price change.

    If you can’t get these major facts correct, I guess the rest is just a crap shoot?

  80. VennData says:

    “Those guys in Islamic garb at Sovereign Wealth funds scare me, too.”

    — Juan Williams

  81. ubnutsagain says:

    @apachecadillac:

    “In reply to ubnutsagain–maybe Taibbi does bring something to this particular intellectual table–at least, if you buy the idea that it takes one to know one.”

    I gotta tell ya … I love your nuance, said in ignorance, of course … but what the hell, it’s all in good fun.

    Knowaddamean?

  82. ToNYC says:

    Islamic Sovereign Wealth was brought to you by Standard Oil, their heirs and successor trustees, etc.
    Keep your independent pedal to the metal…that surgically rips out your lungs from behind the curtain of your blissful and fearsome ignorance.

  83. san_fran_sam says:

    Maybe we should run some ads on TV asking why US Corporations hate America.

    that always seems to work for the Republican Party.

  84. san_fran_sam says:

    But, you know, i can’t entirely blame the corporations on this. They are just trying to make as much profit for themselves in the short-run as they can. And they could not care less about the country or the American people or the long term. Or is it that could not care more?

    Maybe they just don’t care. Period. Full stop.

  85. SANETT says:

    It’s not as bad as it seems….while on the surface we’re turning fenceposts into firewood the more predatory the deals are the more likely the terms will get changed by whatever compulsion is necessary. At some point the law of the schoolyard will prevail — the kid who loses his lunch money is the skinny one with the Coke bottle glasses. The other sides of these deals can’t defend their own countries without US help — how do they plan to inflict the long term fiscal and societal pain that their deals imply? Can’t happen here? Sure it can. It can happen anywhere, as anyone owning Brazilian bonds knows by now. A little tax here, an eminent domain proceeding there…..they’re not buying this stuff, they’re getting temporary use until we get irate enough to take it back — as they say in old westerns, all nice and legal like.

  86. ravenchris says:

    Protect yourself and the future, do not reelect incumbents.
    Endeavor not to idolize money.

  87. bulfinch says:

    Aleric,

    Time to defend your stance. You’ve repeatedly insisted in one way or another that Taibbi’s reporting is apocryphal, so provide support for why this is; that, or risk seeming merely snotty and bitter.

    Inveighing against the narrator’s style is one thing, but don’t miscast the underlying framework as rubbish just because it doesn’t comport with your understanding of how things tick. Your opinions on Taibbi’s writing are big and fat, but so far, insubstantial.

  88. bulfinch says:

    Also – keep in mind Taibi’s audience. For the most part it is not us, it’s middle America. People with very little understanding of how all of these things work and how all the parts fit together.

    I am rather convinced that if we could measure the difference between your grasp of ‘how all of these things work and how all the parts fit together’ against that of the Middle-American Rolling Stone-reading rabble, the difference would fit in your eye.

    As for me…I know everything. It’s a burden sometimes, but I can take it.

  89. bulfinch says:

    …the ONE thing I apparently don’t know, however, is how to quote the original poster.

    dammit.

  90. A says:

    For better or worse, in democracies such as ours, we, as disconnected voters, have the right to choose the levels of incompetence, corruption and waste, that we prefer.