David Stockman’s New York Times Op-Ed — “State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America”

FDR – Obama crony capitalism I assume ….

David Stockman’s New York Times Op-Ed has ruffled a lot of feathers. Paul Krugman dislikes it, what Krugman overlooks is Stockman’s excellent criticism of crony capitalism, financialisation, systemic rot and Wall Street corruption of Washington, something Stockman has seen from the inside as part of the Reagan administration.

The important part:

 Essentially there was a cleansing run on the wholesale funding market in the canyons of Wall Street going on. It would have worked its will, just like JP Morgan allowed it to happen in 1907 when we did not have the Fed getting in the way. Because they stopped it in its tracks after the AIG bailout and then all the alphabet soup of different lines that the Fed threw out, and then the enactment of TARP, the last two investment banks standing were rescued, Goldman and Morgan Stanley, and they should not have been.

As a result of being rescued and having the cleansing liquidation of rotten balance sheets stopped, within a few weeks and certainly months they were back to the same old games, such that Goldman Sachs got $10 billion dollars for the fiscal year that started three months later after that check went out, which was October 2008. For the fiscal 2009 year, Goldman Sachs generated what I call a $29 billion surplus – $13 billion of net income after tax, and on top of that $16 billion of salaries and bonuses, 95% of it which was bonuses.

Therefore, the idea that they were on death’s door does not stack up. Even if they had been, it would not make any difference to the health of the financial system. These firms are supposed to come and go, and if people make really bad bets, if they have a trillion dollar balance sheet with six, seven, eight hundred billion dollars worth of hot-money short-term funding, then they ought to take their just reward, because it would create lessons, it would create discipline. So all the new firms that would have been formed out of the remnants of Goldman Sachs where everybody lost their stock values – which for most of these partners is tens of millions, hundreds of millions – when they formed a new firm, I doubt whether they would have gone back to the old game. What happened was the Fed stopped everything in its tracks, kept Goldman Sachs intact, the reckless Goldman Sachs and the reckless Morgan Stanley, everyone quickly recovered their stock value and the game continues. This is one of the evils that comes from this kind of deep intervention in the capital and money markets.

Very few of them are doing so on the pages of the New York Times. So while it’s rather disappointing to see Stockman railing against deficits when the evidence shows capital and labour markets are still very slack even with large deficits, and while it’s rather disappointing to see him making technically-incorrect claims about the United States being “bankrupt” — sovereign lenders controlling their own currency cannot go bankrupt — we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Stockman is a cranky old man — but when it comes to drawing attention to real-world problems with crony capitalism, he’s doing a fine job.

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