Thursday, March 26, 2009

Billions and Billions



I guess we’ll have to make it “trillions and trillions” now. Obviously, the economic meltdown is going to be one of the biggest news stories of our lives. I’ve just finished a couple of articles -- about the economy -- I believe worthy of your attention. (Thanks Tim.)

The first is by Matt Taibbi, writing for the Rolling Stone. It’s down and dirty. None of the quotes are cleaned up. On the contrary, they’re highlighted. I keep waiting for the piece of journalism that is going to light the fuse on public outrage. This may be the one. It’s probably too lengthy for most Americans, but it certainly hits the right tone.

The Big Takeover

”That guy — the Patient Zero of the global economic meltdown — was one Joseph Cassano, the head of a tiny, 400-person unit within the company called AIG Financial Products, or AIGFP. Cassano, a pudgy, balding Brooklyn College grad with beady eyes and way too much forehead, cut his teeth in the Eighties working for Mike Milken, the granddaddy of modern Wall Street debt alchemists. Milken, who pioneered the creative use of junk bonds, relied on messianic genius and a whole array of insider schemes to evade detection while wreaking financial disaster. Cassano, by contrast, was just a greedy little turd with a knack for selective accounting who ran his scam right out in the open, thanks to Washington's deregulation of the Wall Street casino. "It's all about the regulatory environment," says a government source involved with the AIG bailout. "These guys look for holes in the system, for ways they can do trades without government interference. Whatever is unregulated, all the action is going to pile into that." “

If you younger people don’t recognize the name Michael Milken, you need to spend a few moments reading about him. Maybe they’ll put him back in jail, just on general principles.

The second article is in the Washington Post.

Shining Light on the Bailout Effort


”Anthony S. Barkow, a close friend and former colleague at the U.S. Attorney's Office, said anyone abusing the bailout should fear Barofsky. "When he says he wants to cause pain to the people who committed fraud, he means it," Barkow said. “

You’ll be happy to know that Barofsky works for you.

Don Brown
March 26, 2009

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