Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vampire Squid Obfuscation

"But most Americans know all too well that only the intervention of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money saved Goldman [GSG] from the dire fate of its less well-connected competitors. The growing ranks of under-and-unemployed Americans, meanwhile, are waiting with increasing desperation for a recovery of their own. Goldman is this century's octopus--almost literally so. The most-quoted sentence is financial journalism this year, by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, describes the company as a 'great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.' ... And there is one other significant way that our 21st-century vampire squid differs from Rockefeller's 20th-century octopus. Americans knew what oil was, and they understood how Standard Oil's manipulations directly affected their pocketbooks. Even now many Americans don't know what Goldman's products are or how it makes its money. The less we know, the easier it is for reckless gambling to return to capitalism's casinos, and for Washington to look the other way as a new financial bubble inflates. ... At least health care, like oil, is palpable, so we will be able to keep score of how reform fares--win, lose or draw. But the business of Wall Street, while also at center stage in a Congressional committee last week, is so esoteric that the public is understandably clueless as to what, if anything, the lawmakers were up to, if anyone even noticed at all. ... As the Reuters columnist Rolfe Winkler wrote last week, 'Main Street still owns much of the risk while Wall Street gets all of the profit'," my emphasis, Frank Rich (FR) at the NYT, 18 October 2009, link:

Vampire Squid's continued existence requires Joe Schmoe not understand what its real business is. FR is to be commended for making this clear. See my 25 October 2009 post:


Anonymous said...

Oh we know what GS does...

It helps American companies raise capital!

$$ -- Investment banking $899 million
$$ -- Asset management $325 million
$$ -- Trading and principal investments $10 BILLION

Oh... what's that? Not a depository institution? Just a CASINO?

Trading, trading, trading...

Who shall make the argument that "trading" is vital for economic stability and vitality?

Trading = instability

Instability = systemic risk

Systemic risk = Goldman Sachs

Svend said...

Seems that quite a bit of their defense of "trading" is that they add liquidity to the market.

Ok, why must all economics/finance metaphors be plumbing related. Liquidity, mopping, credit pipes etc.

Anyways, I remember back in my econ masters I read a paper that argued the more liquid a market is, the more volatile it is. Is this the case IA?

Independent Accountant said...

I don't recollect reading anything on the issue you raise. I suspect you are correct as more liquid markets would attract short-term traders.