Monday, October 11, 2010

Barry Ritholtz Tries to Save America

Since the Obama administration doesn't seem to know how to handle the current mess and seems completely confused about the role of government, Barry Ritholtz has laid down "five hard truths" that need to be recognized by all Americans and fully enforced by all the institutions of the society. Here is Hard Truth #4:
The Rule of Law is Sacrosanct: Our system of private property has developed due to the rule of law. The ability to demonstrate ownership, pass clear title, resolve disputes has worked for 100s of years. The recent frauds we have seen from law firms, process servers, bank legal departments, even drive through RE courts has put the nation at risk of becoming a lawless banana republic.

There is only one solution to this threat: For the rule of law to be in force, those people who violate it — previously known as “criminals” — must suffer the painful consequence of their illegal actions.

If you falsified documents that where used in foreclosures, you must be prosecuted for criminal fraud. If your firm’s primary purpose was this illegal activity, it must be put down. This means loss of professional licenses, corporate death penalties and jail time for offender . There is no deterrent to criminality of there are no significant penalties.
It sure seems obvious to me. And it seems pretty clear to me that if this isn't enforced then America is well on its way to "banana republicdom". But I'm willing to bet that Obama won't move on it. He has surrounded himself with lackeys who are a "why rock the boat" type who know their bread is butter by Wall Street and the banks. They don't care that these sleezoid organizations have raped and pillaged the land. They are going to keep Wall Street and the banks on the pedestal while everything else goes under. Sick.

Barry Ritholtz has a simple set of facts he is trying to get across. The message is simple:
The United States has been living a lie.

As a nation, we have been kidding ourselves, repeating myths, hoping that if we say something enough times, it will become reality — no matter how untrue. The credit crisis and now foreclosure debacle has revealed to anyone who cares to look what we have sought to ignore: That the past decade has been based on a set of fundamental beliefs that are intrinsically false.

Its time for an intervention. We need someone to force us to stop hitting the bottle, lose the bimbo, skip the dessert cart, visit the gym. Its time to stop bullshitting ourselves about Financial Engineering, and face both the Truth & Consequences of our legacy financial system.
But Ritholtz is like an old time Jewish prophet down from the hills trying to get the sinners to reform. Nobody is willing to listen. He is telling them that if they don't repent, they will be marched off in chains into a long, long exile. But they only laugh at him. But I would put my money on Ritholtz. I think he's got it right. A time of retribution is at hand if America doesn't repent of its wastrel ways.


thomas said...


I have been wondering if we need to protect certain things from being done electronically.. Many jobs have been lost because of these innovations like electronic meters that make it possible for one person to read thousands of meters and eliminating the need for people. In the natural gas industry, this is dangerous since for many months no one sees the meter and dangerous situations can develop. I think mortgages and land titles should be done the old fashion way. This company that is doing this for many of the banks electronically and illegally with forged signatures needs to be shut down and the system needs to be fixed by using people with real paper. This would add many more jobs to the economy and solve a very serious problem. We need to protect people and their jobs.

I believe Barry Ritholtz is correct about the myths.. Anyone paying attention should be able to see that these beliefs that many try to hold as truth are indeed destroying our nation. People don't want to hear from the prophet that they need to change, this is not the first warning, and they will do many things to suppress or ignore the message. These people sit around and claim that things are not so bad or that the economy is doing just fine. I heard this a lot during the Bush years.

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas: I agree that we need to do things safely and accurately. But I don't agree with the idea of "saving jobs". I do agree with a social goal of full employment. So you need to encourage new business without handing the keys to the castle to the business class, i.e. giveaway tax deals.

You want new technology and want to avoid "make work" jobs. That's the only way to get to more goodies for everyone with less work.

But you don't want to destroy souls by lots of unemployment, so you need some system that keeps in place a level of employment that means everybody who wants to work can find a job, but not a cush job that would undermine their desire to improve themselves and land a better job.

So any "save jobs" program has to be temporary and not sold as a "fix". You don't want to say "no automation" to electronic metering or new approaches to handling mortgages and titles. Some short term "get people into the process" is OK as a make work scheme, but it should be clear that it is temporary and that automation is still the goal. I prefer sipping soda by the pool while the robot fusses around fixing things than to outlaw robots and mandate that everybody spend 5 hours per week "fixing up" the house. I don't want government telling me what to do and when to do it. I want technology to make my life easier. But I recognize that government is needed at times to coordinate people and put in place rules and sometimes even create "make work" jobs to get us over the hump.

In short, there is no easy answer. That's why I think government has to constantly "muddle through" with new programs that sort of fix the problem for a while but doesn't really fix it because you ultimately want private enterprise to be the engine of growth.

Like most things in life, the "right" answer isn't obvious and you have to be light on your feet and keep looking for better opportunities. What bothers me about politicians is they keep selling the same old snake oil even though it has been proven not to work. You need honest politicians who will tell the people (a) there is a problem, (b) there is no easy answer, (c) here are some interim programs to help muddle through, while (d) explaining that the ultimate goal is a healthy economy where everybody does better.

But I guess people don't want to hear the truth. They would like to play "pretend" instead and follow leaders who knowingly sell them poison pretending it is a magic potion of prosperity.