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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tears of a Crown

Matt Yglesias posted a particularly revealing snippet from Robert Rubin's appallingly self-oblivious and self-absolving WSJ interview yesterday,
“Nobody was prepared for this,” Mr. Rubin said in an interview. He cited former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as another example of someone whose reputation has been unfairly damaged by the crisis.
As many people go on to document in the comments section of Yglesias's post, countless perfectly respectable economists and policymakers were of course quite well-prepared for every aspect of the current crisis and had been sounding alarm after alarm to that effect to no avail for years.

Unless Rubin's assertion that, in effect, "nobody could have predicted" this crisis amounts to the useless but apparently self-exculpatory vacuity that nobody who was raking in the cash through this pyramid scheme expected this precise amount of shit hitting this precise fan at precisely this moment, one has to wonder if he is just being, well, facetious in saying these things.

For me, there is something far worse than Rubin's denial of the obvious fact that better people than he warned of the danger of what he was doing and were right and he was wrong and his wrongness hurt many people more than he is capable of understanding and yet he won't ever hurt at all for all that. What is far worse still is that as one of the principal authors of this ruinous shitstorm wanders through the swirling shit wreckage aftermath (or, rather, floats above the stench in a bazillion dollar dirigible bought and paid for with royalties from his authorship of the shitstorm itself) here is Rubin shedding his tears not for the victims of his irresponsibility nor in shame at his own refusal to listen to those who knew better, but in frustration that Alan Greenspan, another of the chief architects of this wonderful world of shit, has been "unfairly" damaged in his "reputation" by this debacle of theirs.

Honestly, what is one supposed to even say to people like this?

Atrios captured the spirit of my own reaction quite nicely when he wrote that "it's very wrong to hurt the feelings of our elite overlords by suggesting that they have some responsibility for, well, anything. It makes them very sad. And the sadness of very rich people is something which hurts us all."

Even more flabbergasting to me is the realization that Alan Greenspan's "damaged reputation" still commands incomparably more authority, respect, attention, and filthy lucre than that of the overwhelming majority of his detractors even right now, on the very subjects about which they were right and he was wrong so catastrophically. Robert Rubin has neither tears nor even ears for any of them even now.

6 comments:

Martin said...

As many people go on to document in the comments section of Yglesias's post, countless perfectly respectable economists and policymakers were of course quite well-prepared for every aspect of the current crisis and had been sounding alarm after alarm to that effect to no avail for years

Yeah, they're called short sellers, whom I've talked about in the comments of this very blog. And what did they do in the immediate aftermath of the crisis a couple of months ago? They banned short selling. Hey, bad news hurts, but it's better to know the bad news, if it's true, than to maintain a lie.

Of course, as you point out, it wasn't just the short sellers. Many others knew too. I personally know somebody who got out of the lending industry two years ago because of -- from his perspective -- all of the bad loans they were handing out. Lots of perfectly reasonable people knew this was coming. It was only greed that kept the house of cards propped up for that long.

Unless Rubin's assertion that, in effect, "nobody could have predicted" this crisis amounts to the useless but apparently self-exculpatory vacuity that nobody who was raking in the cash through this pyramid scheme expected this precise amount of shit hitting this precise fan at precisely this moment, one has to wonder if he is just being, well, facetious in saying these things.

Absolutely nailed it.

Martin said...

BTW, you may know this already, but maybe your readers don't, Alan Greenspan is a Randroid. Not an Objectivist. He's a Randroid in the strictest sense. Her personal friend and confidante. I'm sure they made dirty, filthy love.

And recently Greenspan had to suffer the horror and embarrassment of admitting that *maybe* simple market principles are not enough to protect consumers and investors. It's on the record.

AnneC said...

I don't have a heap of intelligent commentary to make here, but I did want to say that this entry ought to win some sort of award for artful use of the word "shit" and various forms thereof. :)

Antonin said...

By the grace of the Internet, another artful shit moment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eASOI_4-ww

Dale Carrico said...

Thanks! I hearts me intrawebs!

Anonymous said...

And speaking of randroids...
Atlas Shrugged, updated edition :)
http://mcsweeneys.net/2008/11/20tucker.html

"There's a whole world out there of byzantine financial products just waiting to be invented, Dagny. Let the leeches run my factories into the ground! I hope they do! I've taken out more insurance on a single Rearden Steel bond than the entire company is even worth! When my old company finally tanks, I'll make a cool $877 million."