Posts filed under “UnGuru”

NYTimes Takes on “The Big Lie”

I am please to report that calling out the Big Lie has now gone fully mainstream.

Recall last month, I had two Big Lie columns in the Washington Post:

What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral.

Examining the big lie: How the facts of the economic crisis stack up

The first column was the most popular article on for a full week. It generated nearly 1845 comments.

Since then, both and Reuters each have picked up the Big Lie theme. (Columbia Journalism Review as well).  In today’s NYT, Joe Nocera does too, once again calling out those who are pushing the false narrative for political or ideological reasons in a column simply called “The Big Lie“.

Nocera details exactly how its done:

“So this is how the Big Lie works.

You begin with a hypothesis that has a certain surface plausibility. You find an ally whose background suggests that he’s an “expert”; out of thin air, he devises “data.” You write articles in sympathetic publications, repeating the data endlessly; in time, some of these publications make your cause their own. Like-minded congressmen pick up your mantra and invite you to testify at hearings.

You’re chosen for an investigative panel related to your topic. When other panel members, after inspecting your evidence, reject your thesis, you claim that they did so for ideological reasons. This, too, is repeated by your allies. Soon, the echo chamber you created drowns out dissenting views; even presidential candidates begin repeating the Big Lie.

Thus has Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, almost single-handedly created the myth that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis. His partner in crime is another A.E.I. scholar, Edward Pinto, who a very long time ago was Fannie’s chief credit officer.”

Longstanding readers of TBP may recall the genesis of my interest in this:  When I was writing Bailout Nation, I did lots and lots of research into exactly what it was that led to the housing boom and bust, the stock market crash, and the Great Recession.

The answer was “its complicated.” There were many many factors, lots of bad ideas, plenty of poor judgement all around.

I summarized these into 7 broad categories. The incomparable Jess Bachman (of Wall Stats) created this fantastic graphic that is the centerfold of the book:




The perpetrators of the big lie all have something to hide. Whether they voted for more deregulation or passed the ridiculous the CFMA or supported the repeal of Glass Steagall or cheered Alan Greenspan’s monetary policy, the Big Lie supporters all bear some resposibility.

In the case of Peter Wallison, he was the Co-director of AEI’s financial market deregulation project. That was scrubbed from his AEI bio.

Ed Pinto has taken a different approach to trying to deflect the blame from the blameworthy. He has continually thrown shit against the barn wall to see what will stick. Originally, it was the fault of the CRA. When that argument failed, he blamed Acorn.  And now its the GSEs. Wallison and Pinto have had their greatest success with this — its now a talking point amongst many of the GOP contenders for the Republican niomination for President.


With this post, we move Peter Wallison an Edward Edward Pinto into the UnGuru category, where they can join the likes of Ben Stein, Elaine Garzerelli and Meredith Whitney as “Ungurus.” All posts that prominently mention these people include the category Unguru.


The Big Lie
Joe Nocera
NYT, December 23, 2011

Category: Bailout Nation, Bailouts, Really, really bad calls, UnGuru


A musical econoparody of the Smith/Bernard song “Winter Wonderland,” about the legacy of Alan Greenspan and today’s GOP.

Amazingly, it is from Dec 2008

Hat tip naked capitalism

Parody Lyrics: MARCY SHAFFER
Music Director: GREG HILFMAN

For the text of the parody lyrics:

For the complete collection of VERSUS political musical parodies, visit us at

Category: Humor, UnGuru, Video

Happy Anniversary, Irrational Exuberance

Today is the 15th anniversary of the infamous “irrational exuberance” speech by former Fed Chief Alan Greenspan (see below). Here is the key excerpt from the speech (note the unintentionally ironic title): The Challenge of Central Banking in a Democratic Society Remarks by Chairman Alan Greenspan At the Annual Dinner and Francis Boyer Lecture of…Read More

Category: Federal Reserve, Investing, Markets, Really, really bad calls, UnGuru

Dissecting the big lie about the economic crisis

> My Sunday Business Washington Post column is out. This morning, we look at part II of the Big Lie (Part I examined the actual factors that led to the crisis) in this part, we look at the data and factors that disprove the elements of the Big Lie. The print version had the full…Read More

Category: Politics, Really, really bad calls, UnGuru

The Big Lie (Previews & Edits)

Whenever I go off on a rant when writing some critical polemic screed, I try not to edit myself. Just get it all out in print, and we can worry about editing down for style and clarity later. That works especially well if you, as a writer, have a some idea of where you want…Read More

Category: Bailouts, Really, really bad calls, UnGuru, UnScience

QOTD: Alan Greenspan on Moral Hazard

The ever ironic former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan on whether government intervention can create moral hazard: “There were unintended consequences to almost every action I was involved in” as Fed chairman, said Mr. Greenspan, who himself cut interest rates to help stave off a bond-market crisis in 1998, and later was accused of helping inflate…Read More

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

Wall Street Strategists Are (Surprise!) Bullish

File this one under Duh! The cover story in Barron’s looks at some of the usual denizen’s of the Street’s biggest shops. They are, as is their wont, bullish and long and not particularly concerned about a recession (Its priced in!) or another leg down in Housing (its cheap!) or the market’s technical signals (we’re…Read More

Category: Investing, UnGuru

Investors: Think For Yourselves

What is it about these four Bloomberg headlines that are imparting some sort of a lesson? • May 23, 2011: Biggs Buying as S&P 500 Profit Forecasts Rise Most in a Year • May 24, 2011:  Biggs Says Stock Bears Wrong Even as Economy Slows • Aug 3, 2011: Birinyi, Biggs Advise Holding Stocks After…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, UnGuru