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Monday, March 28, 2016

The Hypocrisy of "naked capitalism"

Old bankers and old cops. Sometimes we just cling to the old ways.

Today, I thought I'd comment on a blog I love to hate. I read it although there are things I despise about it. So let's just call this a review. "naked capitalism" is a blog with 77 million hits.

The author, Yves Smith is actually a gal named Susan Webber. Ms Webber is a Harvard grad (business school, I guess) who became a Wall Street banker among other things- even working for Goldman Sachs at one point. Her sketchy bio and what little information it provides- tells you very little about who she actually is. You get the privileged child meme but little else.

I have found over the years that people who write under pen names generally have something to hide. They are like the minions, those millions of commenters who refuse to use their real names. They do that because they want to be free of the accountability and responsibility of what they write. I get that. Free speech in America does not mean that what you say won't generate nasty retaliation and sometimes it crosses the line. Some anonymous types are just scared and they see the with holding of personal information as prudent.

I tend to overlook all of that and classify it under "personal circumstances." Whether you are rich or poor, educated or not- you may have something insightful to say. That is all part of the grand birth lottery initially- you are either born to a single crack addicted mother or you catch Susan's parents. Either way it is humbling to know that your success is probably owed to the winds of chance and nothing else. I often think that way.

In the 8 years I have been writing here, I have deleted 5 or 6 comments (other than spammers) only because they were vicious attacks. I would have let them stand had they been truthful or contained content of some merit- but they were just vitriolic, nasty, personal attacks and as such- I sent them to comment hell. Sometimes the reverse is true regarding comments. Some of the commenters and readers here have become my friends. They are actually on my Facebook page. I can think of at least four of you. Some comments have caused me to set aside my own personal bias to investigate allegations and claims which ultimately changed my belief about something.

Ms. Webber doesn't like my comments. I point out flaws and sometimes lies- like the Clinton surplus which never happened but for some odd reason people still believe it did- I guess because Slick Willy said so. That surplus chat was a big piece of a recent "nc" William K Black piece.

I don't like Modern Monetary Theory much either. It is just old Keynesian thinking dressed up as something new. Yves writes about MMT. So when I write comments, the few that have made it past her controlling eyes, they are either attacked or deleted.

I have this blog. I have never tried to create an echo chamber. My skin, while certainly not the thickest, is still pretty thick thanks to 25 years of policing and about 8 more years of writing publicly. If you take shit personally- and you don't feel comfortable with a little confrontation- then policing or public writing might not be for you.

Which brings me here.

I'm not going to work in a field filled with fraud, take paychecks for 20 years or so from thieves in suits, and then suddenly realize the banking industry is full of corruption. It's not going to take that long unless you are simply co-opted. It only took me about 9 months worth of ripping people off in Las Vegas- and I returned to law enforcement. The company I worked for, ITT Financial Services, was simply the most dishonest predatory lender I could imagine. Even the manager was stealing collateral (a Corvette) and claiming it was sold at auction.

So how does a blog receive 77 million hits while rendering a fair amount of opinion and bullshit? Is it clever writing or entertaining? Perhaps marginally so. Huffington Post, the online liberal fluff generator, sold for 300 million. I still scratch my head over that.

Writers have a great opportunity to include people. Instead they exclude people. If I were going to write a credible, believable blog- here are some rules I might employ.

Rule #1. Don't take paychecks from crooks for 20 years. (Hint- they are still crooks whether they are prosecuted or not, kind of like mobsters) That damages one's credibility. It either means you were complicit, a crook yourself, or after 20 years you became a disgruntled employee. Either way- being a bank insider and then suddenly discovering what they do and becoming angry abut it twenty years later makes me wonder if you might be a little slow.

Rule #2. Let's not pretend you are in possession of some proprietary information that only Ivy League grads can understand. You are not. Many of us understand that banks and trading desks manipulate markets, make exotic bets through the use of complex strategies and trading conduits, employ strategies to inure or re-insure positions, give shitty advice that they profit from, rip off clients or taxpayers as the case may be. Only the conduits by which they accomplish this are new.

Rule #3 Print comments. If you are going to be a fearful, controlling type that must edit everything except the inaccuracies of your own featured writers- then maybe close commenting altogether. As it stands- all the comments appearing under any given piece seek only to produce one big echo chamber where agreeable ass kissers pass the gatekeeper's muster, dissenters are persona non grata. Perhaps Susan should have us fill out an online application listing our credentials before approving it.

Rule #4  Don't be a snob even if that is at the core of your being. People don't like snobs and if they do- that concerns me. It takes me back to the Dave Barry days. Pay attention to how people treat the waiter because that is how they will treat you one day. I have seen such things come to pass.

I have probably read a thousand blogs. I learn something from every one of them. I have a gold trading blog where the author has been "dead on" with every turn in the market for over a year. That is a must read for a trader like me. I have two blogs which I have quit reading because they have turned into "pay to read my stuff" sites. I have one or two blogs wherein the writers have simply quit writing altogether. I read some blogs for their great writing, Ace and Taxicab Depressions, I like the pictures and conservative attitude of the Feral Irishman.

In the end, we do and read what we want. I read naked capitalism- but it is often inaccurate. It is certainly not a free speech zone either- you can do your own investigating while reading the comments and looking for dissenters. The other hallmark of snobbery on "nc" are the rules for commenting. Read that caustic page for the true flavor of who Susan Webber is.

Each year Yves-Susan launches a campaign drive looking for money. I giggle when I see that. It reminds me of some poor broker trying to shake down his clients selling the company's book. I suppose the old ways are hard to shake off. I'd kind of like to see how much Yves receives each year and where it is spent. Those are my old investigative ways and indeed, they are hard to shake off.

There it is Frankenstein Government style. Offering opinions for nothing and expecting the same in return. Sugar free since 2008.