My Washington Post article, What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral, was the single most popular article of the Sunday paper.

Traffic migrated from the rest of the Post readers, and it generated 800+ comments

Be sure to check it out

Category: Apprenticed Investor, 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.

30 Responses to “The Viral Big Lie”

  1. NoKidding says:

    Good job baiting the hook.

    At least one of the if-you-are-dumb-enough-to-believe statements in the first paragraph is guaranteed to aggitate anyone with an opinion. I have not read the comments yet, but I bet at least two thirds of them wander completely off-topic, like to the Global warming debate.

    Next time write about flash trading, but include references to abortion, gun control, the war on terror and legalizing pot. You’ll hit it out of the park.

  2. gman says:

    An article as important as the “The Big Lie” could not stay on the “most viewed” list for long..I’m sure that algorithms exist to ping other articles to make them appear to surge up the list ahead of Barrys tour de force

  3. Dow says:

    Barry the zombie lie slayer

  4. Lord says:

    And I thought the Washington Post was irredeemably lost. Shows there is always hope.

  5. DeDude says:

    I am not surprised that you got 800 comments. The right wingers are desperate to hold on to their narrative for the economic crisis, because it it’s a main pillar of their whole ideology. Their ideology says that gobinment is bad and private sector free markets are good. The facts of the crisis showed us that the private sector are dumb greedy bastards that must be kept under tight control of “we the people” or they will hurt us all. Asking these people not to blame government is in essence asking them to give up or seriously modify their ideology/religion. It’s not going to happen. At most some of them will try to bargain and suggest that at least government was co-responsible. Yet it is important that people like you insist on keeping the facts straight regardless of how inconvenient the truth is to some people’s beliefs. These people are pathetic in their abandonment of truths, reality and data, and they need to be exposed as such.

  6. pburg79 says:

    Great article. I think it was a much better expanation than The Big Short. However, I thought I was the only one who blamed Greenspan for the collapse. However, I think you missed another one of the biggest culprits, Jim Johnson of Fannie Mae and how he was able to manipulate congress’ housing policy for his own gain. I am currently reading Reckless Endangerment and it makes a pretty solid argument as to how Fanny caused the problem.
    Keep up the good work.

  7. budhak0n says:

    All the really good lies are Big.

    You’re spending too much time trying to divine the difference between truth and dishonesty. Everyone is at times intellectually dishonest and now we’ve seen given the opportunity that most of them are financially dishonest.

    Instead of harping on it incessantly, we all need to just take a collective step forward and put it all in the past.

    I know there’s a vocal group of people who feel they’ve been wronged in having signed a bunch of mortgage documents and then never having given anybody any payments.

    But frankly scarlet, I don’t give a damn.

    Follow the motto and Move on.

  8. budhak0n says:

    Come on Folks. We’re wasting our time fighting yesterday’s battles. Let’s move on to what matters tomorrow.

    Just my instincts on the subject. All I can offer. We all know what “really” went on here.

    Not like anybody’s going to be giving any money back.

  9. Moe says:


    Agree. Minds will not be changed by this article (as good as it is!). Greed is an addiction – you’d have as much luck walking into a crack house and preaching abstinance.

    Besides, what’s going on on Wall Street is an EFFECT. We must set about treating the CAUSE – which resides squarely on the shoulders of our Government – our civil servants; who long ago stopped being civil or our servants. They have stood by like Nero, fiddling away while we all burn.

  10. EMichael says:

    How can this be yesterday’s battle?

    Think Dodd-Frank(or any kind of serious bank regualtion) does not get totally destroyed if the Big Lie is not fought at every opportunity?

    Of course we are not going to get the money back from the last crisis, but maybe we can stop from paying for the next one.

  11. DeDude says:


    I totally disagree. Those who fail to understand failures of the past are condemned to repeat them in the future. We need to fully understand how and why this happened. If we allow a flawed narrative to settle in and become a part of the debate then we will allow flawed “solutions” to be implemented. Those flawed “solutions” will eventually be smashed against the wall of reality and we will again suffer a lot of hurt for no other reason than our inability to let the facts modify our ideologies. Part of the reason we constantly repeat moronic failures such as “trickle down” is that people who’s ideology are threatened by confronting such failures suggests that we just “forget it” and “move on”.

  12. Moe says:

    We have the answer = we need to turn Japanese…

    Citigroup Tries to Calm a Japanese Watchdog

  13. budhak0n says:

    I guess I’d like to put it this way. If I’m not getting a check at the end of all this hullabaloo, I think it’s fine and dandy that everyone’s going to get themselves worked up into a Post Mortem Frenzy attempting to address YESTERDAY’s scam once again but if you ask me in all honestly whether or not I personally find it to be a subject which stokes my intellectual curiosity, the answer is simply no.

    It’s the S&L Crisis with a different name. It’s “I’m pissed that my neighbor bought a big ole four wheel drive truck while I drove around in a Civic”.

    It’s yet another American exercise in the recurrent practice of saying that the world’s ills are caused by all THOSE bad people and frankly it’s got nothing to do with “me”.

    And seriously, it’s just boring.

  14. Hey, that’s because I put it on Google+ and people ate it up. OWS topics were hot over the weekend and Barry’s facts were welcome.

  15. Low Budget Dave says:

    The amount of misinformation in the WaPo comments is stunning.

    It does not speak well for our country how many people write in to repeat the lie, or to explain why they still believe it in spite of all evidence.

    Your analogy to the global warming debate is a good one. Texas just got done with the driest 10 months in recorded history. 1500 homes burned in 21,000 fires. But voters there will tell you that the biggest threat is radical environmentalists who want them to change their light bulbs.

  16. gman says:

    Rhetorical device of the PR flacks on TV when calling people of power and means out on terrible calls..ala the WMD/Iraq or Bush tax cut or now causes of the financial crisis …”lets not play the blame game and we have to look forward”..b/c “that is what the public want”

  17. BennyProfane says:


    How is this yesterday’s scam? The derivative market is larger, and just as opaque. Why do you think everyone is on the edge of their seats about Europe. Nobody knows how everybody else is involved. And, the ratings agencies are still rolling along, maybe not being taken as seriously, but, still affecting markets with their rubber stamps. Nope, we’re still in yesterday. We need a real crash and a Pecora to make it to tomorrow.

  18. VennData says:

    So, you don’t think lies can permeate the conscious of your fellow voters?

    White House: There’s no sign of E.T. or UFO cover-up

    It’s no different than “Supply Side economics,” “Bush got bin Laden,” “Obama created more debt than Bush,” “job-creators,” or Israelis hate Obama…

    The GOP Media Machine can countenance no mistakes, no failures, no mismanagement on its part, no success on its sworn enemies… the supporters of Clinton-era marginal tax rates for the uber-wealthy.

  19. A says:

    Wall Street (and its corrupt supporters) is learning a lesson from congress itself: the public is generally ignorant…and an ignorant public is far easier to govern (manipulate).

  20. FNG says:

    “And I thought the Washington Post was irredeemably lost. Shows there is always hope.”

    Congrats BR, you really do have the biggest balls! At least for this week! And do me a favor… when the clowns call (jamie dimon, the bernake, timmy, etc) tell them to fuck off!

  21. Jim67545 says:

    All (or almost all) regulation is reactive not proactive. So, following your advice we should view any abuse, illegality, thievery, etc. that happens by dismissing it as “old news” and just moving on? Pearl Harbor? Old news let’s move on. This certainly takes “turn the other cheek” into the modern world. Next time you call 911 I hope they don’t tell you that your heart attack is old news and you should just move on. :o)

  22. machinehead says:

    Here’s the perfect illustration to accompany BR’s article: Bloomberg as a wicked witch.

  23. nickthap says:

    I’m reading Gretchen Morgenson’s “Reckless Endangerment” and she pretty much puts the problem squarely at the feet of FNM and our elected officials, hiding behind “progressive” housing policies to enrich themselves and, for elected officials, get enough cash for reelection. I had rejected that view, but the book lays out the case pretty well. Let’s face it, the whole thing has been a massive system failure. That’s why it’s been so damn hard to fix–so many people were in on it. And everyone was good until the party was over. Dems, Reps, lobbyists, bankers, even homeowners.


    BR: That book was cowritten with Josh Rosner, a former GSE analyst who sees the world thru the GSE lens. Josh and I have argued about this.

    Their arguments are a squishy qualitative narrative versus what I prefer — a more data driven, follow-the-money analysis.

    The best takedown of the book’s claim the GSEs did it all was by Jeff Madrick and Frank Partnoy: Did Fannie Cause the Disaster?

  24. budhak0n says:

    These are Private entities. If you took a mortgage from them, you didn’t have to take their money.

    If you hate Citi or BoA or Chase or whoever, the answer is simple. Don’t do business with them.
    I don’t anymore.

    Nuff said.

    You’re all perfectly welcome to play the entire game with your own funds.
    Yeah let’s see how short all those arms and even better the diatribes get then.
    That nice new car you want or that shiny house in the hills… Well it’s yours.

    YOU JUST HAVE TO PAY CASH. ( Sort of what’s been going on right? )

    Hahahaha. Yeah they’d all clam up real quick on those terms Sorry folks nobody’s buying the righteous anger act.

    There’s a way to handle bad actors. You ignore them. You don’t get all bent out of shape and go on a crusade against them. All of their stocks are getting battered just as they should.

  25. Greg0658 says:

    budhak0n :-) get told all the time dont be Rev Joykill .. lol
    “stocks are getting battered just as they should” .. YA lol .. don’t get caught driving the Jubilee machine with OPM
    .. and getting fat to boot .. now get “battered”
    the yin&yang of stocks&bonds / the twin novas

  26. Taliesyn says:

    Live from budhak0n Says:
    “Instead of harping on it incessantly, we all need to just take a collective step forward and put it all in the past.”

    Well , chiming in from the *Lessons Learned* independent wing of citizen observance I can’t help but point out that citizen budhakon’s *Move On* evangel was what was recommended during the aftermath of the Dot.Bomb/Enron-led white collar crime wave and here we are again not 6 yearsafter the fact.
    Conclusion: It’s this kind of wanton display of insipid ignorance that borders on obscuration were it not for thefatc that it’s so blindly insipid that it matters not.

    ” I know there’s a vocal group of people who feel they’ve been wronged in having signed a bunch of mortgage documents and then never having given anybody any payments. ”

    Actually it’s more about the far more numerous citizens who people who did everything right and are innocently dealing with a house now worth less than what they have to pay for and are paying for it while taking pay-cuts while their spouse lost their jobs due to this resulting *Great Recession*.
    Conclusion: Live from Budhokan is just parroting the great lie as just another bolierplate cheap trickster.
    His opinion matters only as a museum-class piece of Kudlow hubris baying atone moon or another.

  27. victor says:

    BR: here’s my second comment. The glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 1999 not 1998 (just a typo?) My previous comment assured everybody that the unjust will be “cut down” but, unfortunately only after the damage would be long done.

    Third comment: What we need is to follow the Roman Republic model and elect TEMPORAILY a Dictator (Magister Populi ) to deal with specific issues such as WS. Would you throw your name in the hat? Notwithstanding what befell Julius Caesar?

  28. toddie.g says:

    This comment from the comment’s section of BR’s Washington Post column is worth reposting, illustrating that Larry Kudlow is still LYING ABOUT THE CRA. Why do you keep lying about this, Mr. Kudlow???!?!??!

    11/7/2011 6:42 AM EST
    The Big Lie, to be more exact, is that the Community Re-investment Act ” put a gun to the head of the banks to make these bad loans to unqualified buyers. I have heard this many times, including last week on WMAL said by Larry Kudlow. The fact is that Counrtrywide Mortgage, Wells Fargo Mortgage and the vast majority of the entities making the loans were NOT banks and were NOT subject to CRA regulation.

    The fereral Reserve in Minnesotta and the University of Nebraska crunched the numbers and only 6% of the bad loans were made by entities covered by the CRA. The other 94% were made by institutions who did not fall under the CRA. See Less

  29. Ed Waldorph says:

    I’m surprised, given the responses to the original column, that there haven’t been more here. Since I would rather not participate in the Post world I’ll respond here.
    Let’s dispense straight away with the two major dissents, so far, in the comments: Let’s Move On and Fannie & Freddie Did It.
    The let’s Move On crowd poses an argument that is actually a corollary to the Big Lie. Since the Big Lie is fallacious, so therefore must be the corollary. It could be summarily dismissed, but for the titillating fact that it ironically gives credence to your column, the Occupy Wall Street movement and those other voices in the wind who are tired of being trickled down upon.
    Ancillary to the Big Lie is the claim that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) forced lending to the under-moneyed underclass and created the unstable mortgages that pulled the pin on the mortgage grenade (or if you prefer, thrust the pin into the mortgage bubble; or pulled the lynch pin from the underpinnings of the mortgage market.) Whatever pin you prefer Wall Street would like you to use it to attach the debacle to Fannie and Freddie
    The squawking cry, “Fannie and Freddie did it!” began emanating from the financial nests almost as soon as the mortgage bubble burst. Not surprising since they, along with Presidents Carter and Clinton have been in the sights of lenders since the enactment and expansion of the CRA. The collapse seemingly provided them a bolt for their empty quiver.
    Fortunately this is one of the easiest pillars to pull from under the Big Lie. Facts are the only defense against the Big Lie and quantifiable facts the most effective.
    Given the space constraints of your column you should be commended on covering almost all the important facts refuting the Big Lie. I would like to proffer the precursor to the Great Recession, expand on your Glass-Steagall bullet point, and offer a solution sans-Congress.
    Many forget that the economy first went into the tank when George W. Bush took office. For those who like to point out that the downturn started during Clinton’s watch, I can show exactly why and how Bush and his cronies burst the Silicon Valley Bubble—deliberately setting the stage for his two horrendous tax cuts. (This forum is neither the place nor the time.)
    Be that as it may, this, together with two unfunded wars and an unfunded Medicare prescription drug mandate caused the underfunding, exacerbated by the resultant dwindling economy, which trebled the national debt that the Republicans now trumpet as reason for draconian cuts in government services and lower taxes—dizzy yet?
    It was during this period that the Cabal of Seven conspired to repeal Glass-Steagall. It is important to note who they were: Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Senate Majority Leader Addison Mitchell “Mitch” McConnell, Jr., Senator Richard Shelby (chairman of the Senate Banking Committee,) and, of course, the bill’s namesakes: Senator Phil Gramm, Representative Jim Leach, and Representative Thomas Bliley, Jr. (Chairman of the House Commerce Committee.
    Note that this was accomplished after the Republican takeover of Congress during the last half of Clinton’s second term. Several months before the repeal passed, Secretary Rubin secretly encouraged CitiCorp to acquire Travelers Group by assuring them no prosecution would come under Glass-Steagall before it was repealed—giving the new behemoth a head start against its rivals JP Morgan-Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and all the major investment houses. Rubin quit his term early to join CitiGroup in a unique capacity as employee and director. He then became Chairman of the Board. During his tenure he was compensated with over 50 million dollars.
    What can be done? With a recalcitrant Congress the only options are administrative. Here is my prescription for president Obama:
    For Home Mortgages
    • Freeze all foreclosures
    o Require approval to proceed from either the lender’s regulator or the loan’s guarantor, and only after the below conditions have been met
    • Grant a loan modification for every residential mortgage of either (at the choice of the mortgagee: )
    o 25% reduction of total principle
    o 20% of total principle as a cash refund (which the lender can borrow at 0%)
     NOTE: Actual loss in value is closer to 30%
    • Modify every mortgage interest rate to 4% fixed APR for 30 Years (or less if requested by the mortgagee)
    • Allow individual mortgagees still underwater to negotiate additional principle reductions and or interest with the bank regulator or loan guarantor as mediator
    • If the home is sold during the loan period, 50% of the amount above the reduced principle will be paid to the lender, up to the original principle amount.
    • Offer any mortgagee previously foreclosed the option to buy any bank held home at current market value at the above rate.
    For commercial lending
    • As the Department of Education did with student loans, the SBA must begin direct lending to small businesses. Defined as having a gross income below $10 million
    Every time the Big Lie is uttered it must be countered. If the Bush-Cheney administration showed us nothing else, it is that lies, unchallenged, become accepted.