Speaking of Whores

Heckuva job, guys:

Roger Lowenstein has a big piece out in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, an apology for Wall Street—duly celebrated by The New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin on Twitter as “courageous” and “probably right”—arguing “Wall Street: Not Guilty.”

What’s with our elite financial journalists?

Problem is, this piece is based on a straw man: that fire-breathing critics of Wall Street like Taibbi and, um, Joe Nocera and, well, the news reporters at The New York Times and NPR, think that the crisis was caused by financial fraud alone.

But none of them—not even Taibbi—thinks fraud was the sole cause of the crisis, which had many contributing factors, including excess Chinese savings, regulatory capture, financial wizardry, and, yes, fraud.

The whole system- the traders, the banks, the ratings agencies, the regulators, and the media who covers them- is corrupt.

38 replies
  1. 1
    John Cole says:

    I’m sure Joe Beese will be along to tell us how this is Obama’s fault.

    Oh, wait. We banned him.

  2. 2
    freelancer says:

    @John Cole:

    :D, first in your own post. Ridiculous and infinitely amusing today, John.

  3. 3
    AAA Bonds says:

    Exactly, and exactly what Taibbi’s been saying:

    The fact that it’s complicated doesn’t erase the fact that people on Wall Street committed criminal acts.

  4. 4
    fasteddie9318 says:

    And Ross Sorkin is the same dude who doesn’t understand how marginal tax rates work, despite being financial columnist for The Paper Of Record. He’s a real winner for them.

  5. 5
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @John Cole: Oh, I’m pretty sure that someone else from the not quite distant enough ocean will come along to lecture us on the criminal known as Barack Obama.

  6. 6
    trollhattan says:

    Yesterday, Chait found an example of a villager going off-message (against the WSJ no less) only *poof* never happened!


  7. 7
    jrg says:

    Why don’t they just say the crash was caused by evil spirits or something… A healthy chunk of the dumbfucks in “real America” would probably believe it, no questions asked.

  8. 8

    How was their fraud, let me count the ways:
    1) Home mortgage fraud: people lying about their income like crazy
    2) House assessment fraud: assessors lying about home values to justify whatever people were willing to pay for them
    3) Mortgage securitization fraud: banks selling off mortgages they knew were lower quality than claimed
    4) Security sales fraud: securitizers selling securities that they knew were lower quality than claimed
    5) Security rating fraud: rating agencies playing games to let securitizers turn crap into AAA.
    And that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure Tabbi could point to whole areas of fraud I haven’t even thought about.

  9. 9
    PeakVT says:

    OT: Anyone listen to Fresh Air today? Weird shit, man, weird shit.

  10. 10
    dollared says:

    We love you, JC. Keep at it. Those monkeys are going on my office door.

  11. 11
    Cat Lady says:


    Yes. WTF? What did you think?

  12. 12
    PeakVT says:

    @Cat Lady: The timeline makes me dubious. If the crash in New Mexico had happened in 1957, it would make more sense. From what I heard today, uh… no.

  13. 13
    Cat Lady says:


    Terry Gross raised that point pretty well. Still, there’s something weirdly plausible about the larger picture, and how War of the Worlds would have interested our enemies back then.

  14. 14
    Xboxershorts says:

    This was my comment:

    Excuse me, Mr Lowenstein. There’s something on your chin.

  15. 15
    Bulworth says:

    All the fault was with Jim Bob Mae and Sally Jane Mae and the Communty Reinvestment Act, etc.

  16. 16
    PeakVT says:

    @Cat Lady: The bits stick together well enough to have some plausibility in light of the lack of information about the incident, but the timeline makes it difficult. I’d say the story was planted to make Jacobsen seem like a kook, but that seems less plausible than the story itself.

  17. 17
    RP says:

    Anyone see Sorkin on Bill Maher’s show on Friday? He came across as a complete idiot.

  18. 18
    singfoom says:

    Paid shill trolls are paid shills. That’s the great/awful thing about Wall Street. So much cash they can spend to protect themselves from their actions.

    Taibbi keeps pounding these points. So does Barry Ritholtz to a lesser extent at the Big Picture. I would suggest that anyone really interested in this (and who isn’t), try slogging through the Levin Report

    I’ve gotten through the first 50 pages. Nice sleep aid, but it’s basically clear that most of the executives could be indicted for lying to congress based on the content of their e-mails vs. what they told Congress.

    Fuck, if they convicted Barry Bonds for lying about steroids, you think they’d jump on the political benefit of convicting those actually responsible for the financial disaster.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    gumbo says:

    Yeah, but Barry Bonds isn’t dumping campaign cash by the truckload onto the Congressional “investigators”. And while us peons may or may not be able to pony up the dollars in this economic climate, the Big Money Boyz will always be able to contribute by the truckload.

  21. 21
    I have issues with Baltimore says:

    How timely: I just finished ‘Griftopia’ last night. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a great book in the same way I imagine that finally getting a diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor is for someone who’s been plagued with constant migraines and blackouts. If anything, it does leave one with a checklist to start fixing this country:

    1. Repeal McCarran-Ferguson.
    2. Return commodities market oversight to pre-1970s methods (i.e. get rid of those special exemption letters to the big banks).
    3. Prosecute the hell out of Goldman Sachs.

    To balance ‘Griftopia,’ the next book on my reading list is ‘How You Can Bowl Better Using Self-Hypnosis.’

  22. 22
    Mouse Tolliver says:

    @RP: I did. Was just about to comment on that. On Real Time Time he left me with the impression that he’s a glibertarian wanker. Unfortunately, since he works for the New York Times, there will always be a “liberal” seat at the table with Sorkin’s name on it — even though he’s not a liberal.

  23. 23
    trollhattan says:

    Not-so-useful lunatic Ben Stein comes to Frenchie’s defense, suggests it was the maid’s fault.


    Attaboy Ben, here’s your cheese snack.

  24. 24

    @Roger Moore:

    Home mortgage fraud: people lying about their income like crazy

    I know I am being too subjective and taking this personally but – – – I told the absolute truth about my income and debts etc. and lost my house anyway.

  25. 25
    trollhattan says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Very sorry you lost your house! Wife.gov is a loan officer and wouldn’t stand for anybody “making up” income during the boom times, but many, many lenders were accepting “stated income” not well verified, typically from the self-employed (magical small business owners).

    The problems started with the lenders, not the borrowers. (My also, too, is the too common 100% and even beyond 100% LTV rations, because houses only go up in value, yaknow)

  26. 26
    handy says:


    that guy is such a smug A-Hole

  27. 27
    les says:


    Find “Giant Pool of Money” from This American Life. There surely were some folks lying about income; but by the end of the scam, mortgage brokers didn’t even ask about income/assets, much less verify. The pressure that created the bubble–hosing all us little folk, honest and otherwise–was decidedly top down. The portion of the problem created from the borrower end is miniscule; and borrowers harmed far exceed the fraudulent.

  28. 28
    trollhattan says:


    Sheesh: “ratios”

  29. 29
    les says:


    I dunno, “rations” made a weird kinda sense. To me. Not a ringing endorsement, I fear.

  30. 30
    WereBear says:

    One of my pet theories about our present state is that after some 30 years of the New Corporate: steal from employee benefits, slash R&D, keep promoting idiots and shut out criticism; they can’t do “business” any more.

    So they just turn to outright thievery and embezzlement and accounting tricks; but to call them financiers or businesspeople is a real stretch.

  31. 31
    El Cid says:

    I hold the entire political rush to de/anti-regulate any part of the financial industry such as derivatives etc to be fraud.

    If you can’t look at an entirely propagandized move to use political power to ensure that the by-far richest of US corporations, and the ones at the heights of the ridiculously over-financialized economy, can do whatever the hell they want with zero regard for whatever damage to the population such snatch-and-grab profit techniques and call it fraud, then I guess we’re all from now on supposed to restrict ourselves nonsensically to using terms in the ways of criminal courts.

    Fraud doesn’t just have to mean the charges used under the law. Fraud’s fraud. We’re not in court.

  32. 32
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Mouse Tolliver:
    The NYTimes has David Leonhardt, and of course Paul Krugman.

  33. 33
    Sharl says:

    Regarding the Fresh Air interview of author Annie Jacobsen about her book “Area 51”, a commenter over at the NPR site says this is good ol’ “Terror-in-the_Skies”* Annie Jacobsen. [Wikipedia seems to confirm, fwiw.]

    So, umm, yeah, having some problems with Ms. Jacobsen’s credibility here.

    *by Syrian musicians!

  34. 34
    OzoneR says:

    @John Cole:

    Oh, wait. We banned him.

    we did?

  35. 35
    WaterGirl says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, this is the best title ever. I would love for this to be a tag for BJ posts.

  36. 36
    WaterGirl says:

    @WaterGirl: I take it back. The post right before this is even better: For the Love of Everything Holy, Stay Away From the Hookers.

    But this would still make an awesome tag.

  37. 37
    bob h says:

    Odd, because the excellent “The End of Wall St.” by Lowenstein does a great job of detailing Wall St. fraud as a cause of the financial crisis.

  38. 38
    bjacques says:


    If the maid stole his meds, he should stop waiting for them to turn up and just get them refilled.

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