Dude, you cannot ignore this anymore.* We are screwed. Oh my god, really really screwed. China is screwed. For Chrissakes, Russia is screwed. Investors are so panicked they are paying the government interest for the privilege of buying their T-bills just to get the hell out of the market. Wait, really? Yeah really. Says Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke "We have lost control." Unemployment claims have already started flooding in. What's next? What's a "naked short"? Is it still cool to detest investment bankers? We scoured the internet for a preliminary syllabus.Can I really figure out the crisis on the internet? Okay, so not really. On Tuesday Slate's new business site The Big Money posted a story on the next dominoes. Morgan Stanley was not even listed. Morgan Stanley was not listed because no one was talking about Morgan Stanley failing on Monday. Well that was all the way back then, and this is now. So yeah, no one writing on the internet really has a handle on what's happening, but that is why it is so important to figure out who can at least tell you what just happened. In that vein, do you mean to tell me the systems of the financial capital of the universe made it possible for these guys to not only put up a hundred bucks to borrow five thousand bucks worth of a company's stock in hopes that the company's stock would plunge on account of all the guys borrowing shares with the intention of having it plunge, but to do all of this without even actually borrowing the stock to begin with? Uh yes? But not anymore because so-called "naked" shorting is being outlawed? Here is how Dealbreaker explained it last month:
It's Saturday afternoon and you stop by your ex girlfriend's apartment to pick some of your old stuff. You guys are friends and all, so you just let yourself in. You're grabbing your clothes from behind the fridge and see that she's got a case of Budweiser sitting in the pantry next to it. You happen to be on your way to a pool party and you know that your frat boy friends will be out of beer by the time you make your "casually late" entrance. So you "borrow" that case of beer from your ex. That's called the locate, and since you didn't get her permission then that'd be called doing it naked. (Hey, stay focused here and stop dreaming about your ex's great body. I'm learnin' y'all something right now.)
Is there a cool animated graphic that could visually connect my own mortgage payments to all these complex securities that got bundled together and repackaged with so many ever-credulity-straining "terms" that by the time all was sold and done they were worth 22 cents on the dollar? Well that is not why Si Newhouse created it but Portfolio has a very cool one! Where is the definitive guide to how the Chinese Communist Party made all this happen when it decided the best way to make everyone forget about democracy was to keep the lives of its citizens improving at a dramatic but steadily controlled rate by getting them all jobs manufacturing stuff Americans could not really afford because they work retail but would buy anyway because of the cheap credit that got us into this mess and anyway, the US Treasury will bail everyone out, because no matter how much they overpay the mercenaries keeping the peace in The Iraq China will always have excess wads cash under the mattress to lend them? Glad you asked! It's in the Atlantic Monthly of about nine months back. So are We Turning Communist? Hey, yes, and the communist country that gave you Jerome Kerviel is totally schadenfreuding at our gargantuan hypocrisy, and the Trotksyists over at the economics blog Marginal Revolution is laughing with them. But Equity Private over at Dealbreaker points out, this kind of inane oversimplification of shit is how we got into this mess to begin with.
I do grow a bit tired of hearing about this or that being "nationalized." You would think a prerequisite for being a member of the "financial media" would be the proper use of the word "nationalization" and its derivatives. It has almost gotten to the point that "bailout" was at with reference to Bear Stearns. I understand that it is all the rage with the kids these days to bend and twist meaning until all semblance of communication is the same muddy color as brackish harbor silt, but that has to end at some point. No? I find it difficult not to draw a connection between this sloppy linguistic tendency and the crash. After all, when every corner is rounded off, every edge dulled, every sacking becomes a change to "pursue other opportunities," every slip in revenue a "market harmonization," every crash a "correction," every incompetent failure an "emerging challenge," every takeover a "strategic opportunity" every CDO "Triple A," every auction rate security "just like cash" and every mass firing a "downsizing," how the hell is anyone supposed to know what's risky and what isn't?
Lest you think Equity Private lacks a sense of humor because she resisted the obvious "derivative" pun, you can read her funny guide to translating Wall Street announcements here and laugh at things you don't fully understand too. Hey, do you think there could possibly be a photo gallery of some of the lesser-known hot babes of CNBC? The blog CNBC Sucks has one. The blog CNBC Sucks is incidentally awesome! Not least for this endorsement of Barack Obama:
Let me break it down for you. Obama is 47, McCain is 72. If you are 47 or younger, you can expect to live another 30 years. ALL of McCain's policies are based on him being safely dead by the time we starve and kill each other on the streets as a consequence of his policies.
This is an unfair world. Most of the time, it feels as if there is no God. No old dude with a beard making sure that if two bad things happen to you, then two good things will happen down the line. The amount of suffering in the world is not evenly distributed. Poor people get crushed. Rich people get breaks. Most of us are not destined to be the ones seated inside the fancy restaurant; we're the ones outside on the sidewalk, looking at what's on their plates. So as disastrous as the market crash may be for all of us in the long run, take a minute and enjoy one part of it. Revel in their misery. Toast their unemployment and celebrate their pain!
But you know what, dude? We are just not feeling it today.
*Well, of course you can, that is the whole point.