Naked Capitalism is Wrong About Who Caused the Financial Crisis: Yet Another Anecdotal Example

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Thu, 03/10/2011 - 09:33 | 1036167 neutrinoman
neutrinoman's picture

Some guy tries to jump the Grand Canyon in a souped-up motorcycle.  Bettors on the sidelines make bets for and against.  When the attempted jump fails, as it must, are the "con" bettors to blame for the failure?

Of course not -- the idea is idiotic.

Here's the interesting question: why have American financial markets become such a grand casino?  Granted, they always involve risk-taking.  But why so much capital wasted on so much non-productive activity?  The housing bubble was largely the result of two forces: bad government policy, and bad central bank policy.  Add to that the rapid evolution of high-speed electronic trading and information systems, and we have the ingredients.  The first thing to get rid of are the bad policies, the distorting rules and raw cheap credit that fueled and guided the bubble.

Thu, 03/10/2011 - 02:46 | 1035795 glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

the market is the market, for every buyer there has to be a seller, to suggest that shorts were the culprit is foolish and really beyond idiocy. Even I know that and I'm not at all smart about investing.

The profligacy of our past failings must be laid at the doorstep of the creator of all money, the fed. In this case the excess money creation unleashed a rash of worthless business endeavors that should have been proven worthless via collapse, but which we have elected to prop up now via more money creation and low rates (same thing).

When the money creation (and credit) stops the non-productive biz ventures will be revealed for what they are and they will collapse.

There is no way around it, either you buck-up and stop the music or you wait for the end game.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 23:08 | 1035141 loub215
loub215's picture


Blaming the shorts for this is very "short-sited". It's like weather forecaster for the tornado. All the shorts did was point out the flaw in the system. If they were wrong or full of beans, they would have lost in the market. The fact that they were righter than imagined only meant that the dimwitted Wall Street types and their customers had NO CLUE about their own markets. If you want to regulate something, regulate the mental giants that cooked up the sub-prime no doc no money down interest only once a year $1MM loan to a minimum wage worker. They can regulateeducation level. Start with the basics, 1+1=2. that should thin the herd 60%...


Wed, 03/09/2011 - 21:33 | 1034843 dirtbagger
dirtbagger's picture

Stoneage Street should read Yves book before posting such crap.   She believes the root of the financial crisis was a undeserved reverence for Milton Friedman and University of Chicago economics.  Much of the subsequent Wall Street shenanigans was a result of financial elites promoting those implausable economic theories.

Perhaps Stoned Head Advisors will read E-Conned when it becomes available as a condensed Comics Classic.

Thu, 03/10/2011 - 00:40 | 1035484 malek
malek's picture

I didn't buy her book for the same reason I stopped reading her blog, see my post above.

If you have read it, can you give a 3 sentence summary what she proposes how to get out of this mess? (if anything)

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:54 | 1034741 JR
JR's picture

“That, to me, is crazy talk, at best, like blaming the United States for the actions of the Third Reich during WWII.” – Stone Street Advisors

Actually, if you ask Lord John Maynard Keynes if the U.S. could be blamed for the Third Reich, he would say, “Yes.” Keynes warned that the heavy reparations Germany was forced to pay until 1988 by the Allied Powers in the Treaty of Versailles after WWI, were excessive and counterproductive and would force Germany, out of starvation and desperation, to war. 

Excessive greed by Allied Powers or market insiders is destructive. You can’t have a Buyer Beware Market in the fine print, where certain insider entities of the market make up the rules, then engage in protected fraud and profit from the rules.  And, then, when proof shows rules are broken, nobody gets punished.  Example, can you call a package quality when it is garbage, and then in the fine print, say Buyer Beware? Not and be viable, certainly.

As commenter Walt Wriston wrote on The Curious Capitalist in 2010: “It goes beyond simple ‘fiduciary duty’ and far, far beyond a simple tort: it's criminal conduct!  GS had all the advantages and the buyer the disadvantage, GS had triggers... probably in tight with the Good Ol' Boys of the ‘great rating’ agencies. Trying to explain away everything as an options bet - one side has a put the other a call - to justify what GS has done is highly immoral, but that is the way the ‘game’ is played. Does that mean they should be off-the-hook? Of course not!

“I stated almost the same thing in the blog Why Capitalism Is Bad at Giving Advice, and I quote: ‘And if they (investors) knew how much muscle is against their investments to the banks and brokerage firms propriety trading they'd be aghast !  Goldman Sachs states this explicitly in their fine print, something along the lines of “your investment objectives may run contrary to Goldman's investment objectives’: now that takes a lot of chutzpah to state!”

A reshaping of the markets by a few controlling insider entities is deadly to individual investors and a free enterprise market.  As London Banker observed in Britain in the early 1990s, and pointed out to Americans in 2008, it is “well to be aware…that the new insider dealing powers in a single authority can be applied selectively to erode markets and undermine market participants who threaten those who wield the real power.”

Goldman routinely created CDOs with the worst mortgage bonds it could find, and then bet against them. Goldman and a few hedge funds pocketed billions when the CDOs failed, while Goldman's clients who bought the CDOs endured huge losses. Goldman, of course, has denied all of this.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Long and Short of It at Goldman Sachs” by Ben Stein from the New York Times on December 2, 2007 that  mentions a former Goldman Sachs scandal from the Great Depression:

“But what leaps out at me…is that Goldman Sachs was injecting dangerous financial products into the world's commercial bloodstream for years.

“My pal, colleague and alter ego, the financial manager Phil DeMuth, culled data from a financial Web site, (for "asset-backed alert"), that Goldman Sachs was one of the top 10 sellers of C.M.O.'s  [essentially CMOs are about mortgages, CDOs are about debt in general] for the last two and a half years. From the evidence I see, Goldman was doing this for years. It might have sold very roughly $100 billion of the stuff in that period, according to ABAlert. Goldman was doing it on a scale of billions even when Henry M. Paulson Jr., the current Treasury secretary, led the firm. …

“The point to bear in mind, as Mr. Sloan brilliantly makes clear, is that as Goldman was peddling C.M.O.'s, it was also shorting the junk on a titanic scale through index sales -- showing, at least to me, how horrible a product it believed it was selling. …

“From what I have observed over the years, Goldman has a fascinating culture. It is sort of like what I imagine the culture of the K.G.B. to be. You always put the firm first. The long-ago scandal of the Goldman Sachs Trading Corp., which raised hundreds of millions just before the crash of 1929 to create a mutual fund, then used the fund's money to prop up the stocks it owned and underwrote, was a particularly sad example. The fund, of course, went bust…

Here is a query, as we used to say in law school: Should Henry M. Paulson Jr., who formerly ran a firm that engaged in this kind of conduct, be serving as Treasury secretary? Should there not be some inquiry into what the invisible government of Goldman (and the rest of Wall Street) did to create this disaster, which has caught up with some Wall Street firms but not the nimble Goldman…?


Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:49 | 1034736 cdskiller
cdskiller's picture

Okay, this post was so beneath the quality standards of Zero Hedge, I couldn't let it slide. It left me wondering if the name "Stone Street Advisors" is a typo. Perhaps they meant to call themselves "Stoned Street Advisors".

First, I would advise these stoners to take a class in grammer. Double negatives and redundancies won't win you any respect. Neither will nonsense. The sentence beginning with "Arguing that the shorts who allowed..." is laughably nonsensical. So is the entire paragraph starting with "Absent fraud...". There, honestly, are so many mistakes I got tired while reading this drivel. It is impossible to take seriously someone who talks about financial sophistication who also seems to have a 5th grade understanding of the English language and is, on top of that, so lazy, or stoned, or both.

Spelling class would help, as well. Consistent is not spelled with an a, for example. I know it must be hard, when you are high, to re-read what you've scribbled before posting it.

This inability to think clearly and the lack of attention to detail (perhaps the munchies set it) explains why the author has so misunderstood the arguments of Naked Capitalism, as well as the reason for the emergence of the CDS market, its function in the credit markets, its role in the collapse, and the overall history of the credit bubble and burst phenomenon.

While it is not my job to educate reactionary drug abusers who weren't paying attention in grade school, I will point out that the purchasers of CDS contracts were not proven "right" by history. They were, in fact, proven wrong. In a just, legitimate and free market they would have lost their shirts, but  governments, complicit in that error of judgement, bailed out the shorts to cover up their own crimes.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:15 | 1034650 steelhead23
steelhead23's picture

Dear Stoned,  I freely admit that I stopped reading your post at around para. 3.  You are either an imbecile, disinginuous, or misinformed.  It is wholly possible that some shorts were of the form you suggest - merely taking the other side of a deal they saw as riskier than the long side.  However, Smith has detailed cases where that kind of innocence simply cannot be claimed.  I direct you to the Magnetar hedge fund.  Seated as an equity investor, Magnetar was actually substantially short the very deals they were party to, in effect, a Judas sheep for those being shorn.  Being short is one thing, but luring parties into the alley so you can mug them is quite another.  I hope you continue to lose sleep.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 23:07 | 1035137 Ned Zeppelin
Ned Zeppelin's picture

Agree. These Stoned Advisors need to find a new playground. 

- Longtime reader of NC who does not recall Yves laying blame solely on the shorts.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:24 | 1034676 ArmchairRevolut...
ArmchairRevolutionary's picture

Exactly. This did not even rise to the level of meriting a response from Naked Cap.  Stoned, better luck next time.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:13 | 1034640 jomama
jomama's picture

Yves worships Krugman.  She also tried like crazy to make the Giffords shooting a into a partisan issue.

nuff said.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:27 | 1034686 Northeaster
Northeaster's picture

"Yves worships Krugman." -


No, she really doesn't, and you would know this if you read her work. Like my above statement, I don't agree with everything she writes, but it is foolish to claim only one site as gospel in all areas, Naked Capitalism and ZH included. 

Thu, 03/10/2011 - 00:20 | 1035472 malek
malek's picture

Well, worshipping is a bit rich, but she has rarely ever called BS on Krugman's NYT pieces.

And I stopped reading her blog after I got the feeling that no matter how big the mess is, she is of firm belief that "we just cannot let the big banks fail." It's just unthinkable, to her. I mean we can really stop dissecting the financial crash and the mess we are in if there are neither a) prosecutions nor b) bankruptcies in relation to big banks, as then everything will just continue almost as before.

Thu, 03/10/2011 - 03:20 | 1035840 spooz
spooz's picture

Huh?  Yves takes on the banksters on a regular basis.  Just one of her more recent posts:





Thu, 03/10/2011 - 14:26 | 1037121 malek
malek's picture

Where did I say she is not taking on banksters, by word?

She is however shying away from the ultimate consequence: the fact that the banks must be allowed to fail! She somehow got herself into a mindblock of "this is unthinkable". This is exactly what TPTB try to scare everybody into: the consequences are unimaginable, so we must do everything and anything to not allow that to happen (including the most ridiculous distortions of so-called free markets).

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 22:46 | 1035051 jomama
jomama's picture

i used to read her work for years.  i don't anymore - and not just because of her infatuation with that failure who got a nobel for someone else's work.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:38 | 1034549 NorthenSoul
NorthenSoul's picture

Yo Stone Street,


Would it kill you to provide a link or at the very goddamn least a quote to naked Capitalism postings you guys found so deleterious to your blood pressure?

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:26 | 1034517 spooz
spooz's picture

I don't mind the players taking risks with derivatives sold by AIG.  Its the taxpayer funded bailout of AIG, the casino with inadequate bank, that I object to.  All the players should have been left scrambling to pick up the pieces of AIG and not relying on systemic risk to bail them out.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:26 | 1034510 Hedgetard55
Hedgetard55's picture

I dropped Naked Capitalism a long time ago, when I realized Yves was a dumbshit red diaper doper baby moron, not too unlike Barry Ritholtz.

Thu, 03/10/2011 - 10:09 | 1036276 Ted K
Ted K's picture

The main problem with Yves Smith is, she puts up with vulgarity and drive-by attacks.  But if you point out mistakes, hypocrisies, or bold faced lies she tells on the site, she blocks your comments.  And she constantly takes LARGE segments/blocks of New York Times while making pithy attacks at the writers.  If she wants to attack them fine, but quit using NYT as half the content of your site while simultaneously taking cheap shots.

She also gets paid handsomely by some firms, and I can't help but wonder if there is some conflict of interest in her "reporting" (I use that term extremely loosely in her case) and her obvious agenda against short-sellers.


Wed, 03/09/2011 - 20:22 | 1034671 Northeaster
Northeaster's picture

While I don't agree with everything Yves writes, her coverage of the mortgage industry has been excellent. To qualify her as a "dumbshit" is obviously your opinion, but doesn't quantify her knowledge and arguments in other areas. Just like ZH, no site, and/or person is perfect.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 22:46 | 1035056 jomama
jomama's picture

are you that dude spamming her comments page complimenting how great she looked on her latest hit piece?

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 23:03 | 1035108 Northeaster
Northeaster's picture


Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:51 | 1034418 razorthin
razorthin's picture

The FED, fukkers!  Can't do this without fractional reserve bullshit.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:46 | 1034402 Big Mac
Big Mac's picture

 bruiserND - I think you are on to something, but he may not even be getting paid!

 Below  is the "bio" for the "Analyst".

 Perhaps he is graduating and wants to score some points with a heavy hitter during an  job. His resume probably has all the creditability of the CDO marketing process he is  defending! 

 The Analyst

The Analyst started trading and following markets before his Bar Mitzvah over decade and a half ago.  Subsequently, he earned a BS in Finance, worked in a number of areas from Wealth Management to Investment Banking, and is currently in Business School.  (He almost worked in the Financial Institutions Group at one of the Ratings Agencies in mid-2007 but luckily they couldn’t afford him, whew!)  He writes about business/market/financial analysis, economics, policy, financial regulatory reform, the persistent & unfortunate failings of the mainstream financial media, business failures in general, social media, and yachts.  His interests include sports, music, food, and happy hours on Stone Street.  New York, NY

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:16 | 1034485 bruiserND
bruiserND's picture

Ask this little rag picking suck hole " Stone Street Advisor" to define "yield to commission" a term whispered between CDS & CDO salesmen before they hosed their clients.

I still fault Tyler for this garbage ever seeing the light of day on ZH.

Proofreading is a dying art but this is shameful.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:34 | 1034361 lincolnsteffens
lincolnsteffens's picture

Please permit me as a relatively new fan of ZH to say...

Several years ago I asked my broker if there were some way of making a little more interest on my cash and as safely as a money market. Well sez he, "there are weekly money market auctions that are essentially the same as the regular money markets but you can only take cash from the fund once each week.  Because you have your cash committed for a weak instead of being able to withdraw it at your pleasure you get a slightly higher return. It is just as safe as your regular money market account."

As many ZH readers know my broker was wrong on the safety of the auction rate funds as they were based on the value of real estate bundles. I relied on him as my source of information rather than reading lengthy information that I might not have understood. Someone or several people in his firm knew precisely what the nature of these weekly auction money funds were made up of but I know my broker, a senior VP  in his gigantic investment firm, was not told the nature of the fund.

After  the market imploded it took a few months, but I was finally made whole. I'm sure his firm did everything they could to round up the cash to satisfy their customers. I don't think they made good because they were nice guys. I think they made good to avoid severe legal consequences and hopefully only be dope slapped a bit.

At the time this scenario played out, I was one of my broker's few customers that had any understanding of what they were buying. Most of his clients only looked at their statements once a month, never asked questions unless their investments went down and I'm sure didn't even understand what the ticker symbols ment on their statements. I've learned so much since then (I know that I know very little compared to most of the participants on ZH) and continue to understand as much as possible for several hours a day. I warn people all the time if they don't understand what they own they could be in severe danger. Some take my advice, most don't.


Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:14 | 1034278 bruiserND
bruiserND's picture

Stone Street Advisors

R. Christopher Whalen & Janet Tavakoli are calling bullshit on this article and stand with Yves Smith. Me too.

Who at GSA and the ISDA paid you for this psyops piece? WTF Tyler for not calling bullshit too.

How bout a forensic audit on all the AIG / Citi Bank CDS written and against which toxic securitizations and the hedge to cash market instruments ratio.

If the taxpayer became the guarantor of the failed clearing hous why wasn't all this garbage reverse engineered to see which Wall Street player needed to be executed?

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:21 | 1034498 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

why wasn't all this garbage reverse engineered to see which Wall Street player needed to be executed?

Wut? You are seriously asking? Hey, Max, what do you think?

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 22:55 | 1035083 bruiserND
bruiserND's picture

Love Max and have for years.

GSA - JPM are perps that walked

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:49 | 1034210 prophet_banker
prophet_banker's picture

In the world of off balance sheet transactions, players are allowed to place bets that are bigger than the underlying asset's; this fact was curiously missing from this analysis!



Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:39 | 1034183 Piranhanoia
Piranhanoia's picture

didn't they back the narzi?  same WS Bundesbanks working for Schicky? Sorta loses its perspective when the author starts out with a turd.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:38 | 1034173 MrBoompi
MrBoompi's picture

The not-so-simple act of creating "securities" out of horrible mortgages is fraud, let alone buying CDS on the crap you're selling.

You can yell Buyer Beware all you want. But it should matter when the crap you're selling really is a pile of shit and you've bribed the ratings agencies to keep this fact from everyone but a few insiders.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:32 | 1034161 Thurifer
Thurifer's picture

"That's like blaming the
U.S. for the acts of Nazi Germany during WWII: It's just
doesn't make any sense."

Don't worry, George Washington will address this in his next post. (Hint: It's all Bush's fault)

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:25 | 1034136 cunningtrader
cunningtrader's picture

Let's be  real here, the big carrot that was waved around to sell the CDO shit, was "100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE FROM AIG IF THINGS FUCK UP".   When things inevitably fucked up, along with the sellers openly short selling the very instruments they were flogging,and the AIG insurance ponzi scam failed to pay, investors quite rightly saw red, and are now, quite rightly so, suing.

Tom and Yves,  Get your fingers out of each other's ass, and go and find another job.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:19 | 1034111 apberusdisvet
apberusdisvet's picture

It has always been the Creature from Jekyl Island; everything or anyone else is just a derivative.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:58 | 1034042 centerline
centerline's picture

The failure was caused in 1913.  Everything else is an effect.  Asset backed paper to full fiat to derivitives.  Just leverage - which is a cute way to say "life-support" for a ponzi scheme.

Blaming this on anything else is just silly.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:57 | 1034039 tamboo
tamboo's picture

you can most certainly blame usa for actions of nazis.

The Financing of German Industry
Since 1924, the Dawes Plan flooded Germany with a tremendous amount of American capital which enabled Germany to build its war machine. The three largest loans went into the development of industries, such as I.G. Farben A.G., the German company which became the largest corporation in Europe and the largest chemical company in the world after a $30 million loan from the Rockefeller's National City Bank after World War I, and who created a process of making high grade fuel from low quality coals; and Vereinigte Stahlwerke, which produced about 95% of Germany's [steel and] explosives.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:16 | 1034282 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

Since 1924, the Dawes Plan flooded Germany with a tremendous amount of American capital which enabled Germany to build its war machine.


Pretty bad, pretty bad. On this site, people support the idea that the debt, the war reparations are what caused WW2.

The rationale supported by people here is that a nation crushed by  debt repayments is abler to build up a war machine than a nation that is given special funding facilities to grow into a war machine.

Dont go against the meme propagated on this debt. War reparations are all, the US funding is nothing in the scheme leading to WW2. 

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:25 | 1034509 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

The rationale supported by people here is that a nation crushed by  debt repayments is abler to build up a war machine than a nation that is given special funding facilities to grow into a war machine.

Sounds a little counterintuitive, if you ask me. You'll have to explain further if you think you can voice for the crowd. You're not off to a good start.

Thu, 03/10/2011 - 03:25 | 1035835 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

Of course it is a total nonsense.


People pushed into misery as they are crushed by huge installments on debt are far less able to build a military than people who are afforded money dedicated to build their military.

What do you want? People here have chosen their way of thinking. They want to believe that the war reparations put on Germany is the cause of WW2, not the special money sent by the US to build the german nazi army.

The reality is of course that Germany was relieved of their debt in many ways and received money from the US to invest on their military. It is not the debt that caused the war but the fact Germany did not pay it and got special treatment.

Check it, many here think that way: war reparations are what caused the war.

So funny.

By the way, a poster reported the idiocy I reported down the page. A good sample of the way of thinking that prevails on this site.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 18:04 | 1034247 prophet_banker
prophet_banker's picture

great website link, but calling these traitors "usa" and assigning collective guilt to them is flawed logic; that would be like collectively blaming jews for the holocaust just because hitler had 100's of jews in his SS, and many more in his army.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:49 | 1034011 max2205
max2205's picture

or we wake up and none of the last 2 years happened and the tape reads 666.66

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:37 | 1033972 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

1. Reagan... up National / Government Useage of Structured Debt

2. Cranston Gonzalas? (whatever) was a Daddy Bush Program

3. Baby Bush did pour in a 1,000% more new monies into Daddy's free home give away

4. Cleveland and Detroit did not bankrupt the world.. nor where they big enough domino's to toppel the others over.

all facts can be sourced from .gov sites if need be.


Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:51 | 1034014 falak pema
falak pema's picture

Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions...?

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:53 | 1034214 UpShotKnotHoleGrable
UpShotKnotHoleGrable's picture

Indians and Tigers, no football for 2 years.


Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:37 | 1033969 frenchie
frenchie's picture

there is that story about Standard Oil furnishing gas for German war planes also...

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 17:59 | 1034229 prophet_banker
prophet_banker's picture

While this was happening, the British royal family owned some of the stock, and were receiving dividend checks from the company that profited from the fuel used by the planes that were bombing them!!!!!!

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:33 | 1033960 cahadjis
cahadjis's picture

Actually, US *was* slightly to blame for the Nazi actions, in so far as the Fed actions during the Crash led to severe depression worldwide which brought people like the Nazis in power. Just saying.

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 16:31 | 1033956 falak pema
falak pema's picture

How about smog and fog?

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!