Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”

Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor

There is an excerpt of Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor by ex-Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer in this month’s GQ.

I wouldn’t have paid much attention to this — although some of it is hilarious — except for the knee jerk response from the former Bushies. See Bush vets: Who is Matt Latimer?.

I cannot help but observe that the insider reaction to every book about the Bush years is nearly identical — utter disdain, withering criticism, contempt dismissal — regardless of how well researched it might be, what insights it contains, hell, even whether its true or not.

What should an objective observer deduce? The logical conclusion is either that nearly everyone who has every written anything about the Bush White House is lying about it (and this offends the insiders) — or that nearly everyone is telling the truth (and this embarrasses the insiders).

Draw your own conclusion; GQ Excerpt:

We wrote speeches nearly every time the stock market flipped. Meanwhile, the White House seemed to have ceded all of its authority on economic matters to the secretive secretary of the treasury…(In the weeks that followed, Paulson changed his spending priorities two or three times. Incredibly, he’d been given the power to do with that money virtually anything he pleased. All thanks to a president who didn’t understand his proposal and a Congress that didn’t stop to think….)

Chris had just come from a secret meeting in the Oval Office, and without so much as a hello he announced: “Well, the economy is about to completely collapse.”

You mean the stock market?” I asked.

“No, I mean the entire U.S. economy,” he replied. As in, capitalism. As in, hide your money in your mattress.

The secretary of the treasury, Hank Paulson, had sketched out a dire scenario. And Chris said we’d have to write a speech for the president announcing his “bold” plan to deal with the crisis. (The president loved the word bold.)

The plan… Basically, it could be summed up as: Give me hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and then trust me to do the right thing…In some cases, in fact, Secretary Paulson wanted to pay more than the securities were likely worth in order to put more money into the markets as soon as possible. This was not how the president’s proposal had been advertised to the public or the Congress. It wasn’t that the president didn’t understand what his administration wanted to do. It was that the treasury secretary didn’t seem to know, changed his mind, had misled the president, or some combination of the three…

When White House press secretary Dana Perino was told that 77 percent of the country thought we were on the wrong track, she said what I was thinking: “Who on earth is in the other 23 percent?” I knew who they were—the same people supporting the John McCain campaign. Me? I figured there was no way in hell any Republican would vote for that guy. John McCain, the temperamental media darling, had spent most of the past eight years running against the Republican Party and the president—Republicans on Capitol Hill and at the White House hated him. Choosing John McCain as our standard-bearer would be the height of self-delusion…

He [Bush] paused for a minute. I could see him thinking maybe he shouldn’t say it, but he couldn’t resist.

“If bullshit was currency,” he said straight-faced, “Joe Biden would be a billionaire.” Everyone in the room burst out laughing…

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Sources:
Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor
Matt Latimer

Excerpted in
ME TALK PRESIDENTIAL ONE DAY
GQ, September 2009

http://men.style.com/gq/features/landing?id=content_10957

With a Colleague’s Book Due Out, Ex-Bushies Play Out the Ritual of Anxiety
Al Kamen
Washington Post August 3, 2009

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/02/AR2009080201874.html

Category: Politics, Really, really bad calls, Weekend

So Much For High Frequency Trading

The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed halting high frequency and flash trading. In response, Nasdaq (and others) are now prohibiting flash orders. Supposedly, the NYSE is also considering banning the practice. This was a given. The real question that remains unanswered and demands a thorough investigation is this: WHAT EXCHANGE OFFICIALS APPROVED THIS? WHO…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Regulation, Trading

Bernanke Says Recession Over; Should You Care?

Ben Bernanke has declared the recession over. This leads to one simple question: Why should you care what his recession forecasts are? Based on his track record as a forecaster and his acumen in identifying economic problems before they exploded, his views on starts and finishes of recessions are, to be blunt, irrelevant. Recall it…Read More

Category: Economy, Federal Reserve, Really, really bad calls

Happy Anniversary !

While everyone is so focused on the anniversary of Lehman Brothers (9/15) and AIG (9/16), today is a different sort of anniversary: Its been exactly one year months since the single dumbest column ever published in The Washington Post appeared: Quit Doling Out That Bad-Economy Line. Breathtaking in its ignorance, shocking in its fallibility, astonishing…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls

Myths of the Collapse

Here it is, one year later, and we continue to hear an enormous amount of misinformation about the Credit Crisis: What were the actual causes, what could have been done, what should have been done. Lets consider the most widely held myths as the the cause of the crisis (skipping discredited nonsense). Here is a…Read More

Category: Bailouts, Really, really bad calls

Missing Radical Deregulation As a Cause of Crisis

Tyler Cowen’s NYT column today,  Where Politics Don’t Belong, comes perilously close to the mark in identifying the key problems of the bailouts: They encourage a reliance on special Government dispensation, regulatory exemptions and taxpayer handouts: “FOR years now, many businesses and individuals in the United States have been relying on the power of government,…Read More

Category: Bailouts, Really, really bad calls

Dumb Analysis of the Day: Bank Profits May Drop on Regulations

This has to be the single dumbest thing I have read in months: Investment Bank Profits May Drop on Regulations, JPMorgan Says.  (Note: I am referencing the analyst report, not the Bloomberg story) Here’s a news flash: With the least amount of regulatory oversight in generations in the 1990s and 2000s, bank profits were less…Read More

Category: Credit, Earnings, Really, really bad calls, Regulation

How Economists Got It Wrong

In keeping with our theme of beating the mainstream press by months and sometimes years — I always try to beat the Noble Laurelates by at least 6 months — I wanted to point to both the massive Krugman piece in the Sunday Times Magazine, as well as referencing similar themes we’ve hit upon over…Read More

Category: Financial Press, Really, really bad calls

1930: “Money on the Sidelines”

This is from “News from 1930” website “There’s a large amount of money on sidelines waiting for investment opportunities; this should be felt in market when “cheerful sentiment is more firmly intrenched.” Economists point out that banks and insurance companies “never before had so much money lying idle.” -August 28:, 1930 The more things change…Read More

Category: Financial Press, Really, really bad calls

Barron’s Bad Book Recommendations

I try to follow the advice “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel full,” but every now and again, I simply cannot help myself. Today is one such an instance. Like all human beings, I am wrong on a regular basis (my wife can read you chapter and verse). However,…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls