April 27, 2010
Today’s Senate hearings, carried on CNBC, Bloomberg, and C-SPAN, represent the first major exposure of the American people to the scandalous frauds of the derivatives casino, including synthetic collateralized debt obligations (synthetic CDOs or CDO²). These are things most people have heard very little about. They begin to open up the shocking reality behind such shopworn euphemisms like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and “troubled assets.” Reactionaries in general and Republicans in particular have done everything possible to hide the role of derivatives, which must be considered the main cause of the financial panic of September 2008 which brought down Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG, after felling Bear Stearns in March of the same year. The reactionary legend, repeated yesterday on the Senate floor by financier minion GOP Sen. Gregg of New Hampshire, is that the crisis was caused by poor people taking out subprime mortgages and then defaulting, bringing down the entire Anglo-American banking system and triggering the bailouts. Either that, or too much government spending was too blame.A mass of kited derivatives blew up in September 2008
This Big Lie has come from such propaganda sources as the Limbaugh Institute of Retarded Reactionary Ranting. But the $1.5 trillion in subprime mortgages were dwarfed by the $15 trillion US residential real estate market, to say nothing of the $1.5 thousand trillion world derivatives bubble. But, starting with Bush-Goldman Sachs Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the talk has been of a “housing correction,” not a derivatives panic. It must be pointed out that derivatives are nothing but wagers, bets placed from a distance on securities which themselves are often not mortgages, but rather other derivatives. The bettor buying a synthetic CDO or CDO² does not own the underlying mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, any more than someone who bets on a racehorse owns part of the horse. Blankfein and others tried to portray derivatives as a service to hedgers and end-users, but it’s clear that the vast majority of derivatives involve neither hedgers nor users, but only bettors on both side of the transaction. It is in any case this mass of kited derivatives which blew up in 2008, bringing on the present world economic depression.Goldman Sachs executives are babbling cretins
The mystique of Goldman Sachs is based in large part on their reputation as the smartest financiers on Wall Street. After today’s hearings, this mystique has permanently dissipated. The Goldman executives babbled. They sounded dumb. They stalled and stammered and went into contortions to avoid giving straight answers to simple questions. They were mendacious and evasive when they did speak. Financial powers around the world will note carefully the refusal of three out of four Goldman executives on one panel to state that they had a duty to defend the interests of their clients. Who will want to do business with such a gang? Goldman Sachs got $10 billion of taxpayer money in low-interest loans under the Bush-Paulson TARP. Part of that money went to pay for obscene bonuses for Goldman executives like the ones on display today. The argument for bonuses is that they must be paid to retain the highly talented personnel, virtual geniuses, who are indispensable for Wall Street speculative success. But these are no geniuses, they are imbeciles. No more bonuses should be paid by banks saved through public money.