You mean I have to review everything I've written in PDF format?
Holy cow -- does this process ever end?
Yeah ! I'm finished with Bailout Nation !
My apologies if your calls and emails and exhortations to bath have gone unheeded -- I was in the home stretch and now I am finally finished! I've been slogging away on this for nearly a year, and as of noon yesterday, the manuscript for the book is in the hands of McGraw Hill.
Yes, the book that wouldn't end (thanks to Paulson & Bernanke) is now completed. It was due in August, and we (luckily) waited a few more weeks to see what would happen. We were going to make it into a weekly serial, but in the end decided to have it bound. You know by now that September and October were all Bailouts all the time.
The book will be out in January.
Moyers: James K. Galbraith on Finacial Crises
Bill Moyers talks about the economic future with with James K. Galbraith, Lloyd Bentsen, Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Galbraith is the author of six books, the most recent, The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.
Bill Moyers Journal
PBS, October 24, 2008
WSJ: Bailout Discussion
Here's the video I did for the WSJ on Tuesday -- it was the #2 video on the WSJ.com site yesterday:
"Barry Ritholtz, the writer behind the popular economics blog "The Big Picture," discusses his soon-to-be-published book, "Bailout Nation." He tells WSJ's Christina Jeng the government might be too quick to come to the rescue and it might not even benefit the economy. (Sept. 23)
The whole "anonymous" author goes public in September strikes me as schtick -- a book publishing publicity stunt.
However, getting the manuscript is quite the coup for Liz. Any Bear insider
story is worth pursuing, as we still only have partial knowledge of
what really happened, and how things went so wrong.
I love Liz, but if you are going to mention that a firm had $17 Billion in cash, then you have to also mention this capital base was leveraged 35X that amount in liabilities. Its called double entry book keeping for a reason.
One last note -- Fox has been stoking the "rumor monger" aspect of the Bear/Lehman story. I am not a believer in this line of thought -- rumors cannot bring real companies, and the biggest player in the Residential Mortgage Back Securities sector made a big bad bet that went bust. I am no defender of CNBC, and invariably disagree with Dennis, Charlie and Larry. To me, the Vanity Fair reportage blaming CNBC was silly, and Fox picking up the same story line -- that rumors brought down Bear Stearns -- does not serve its viewers. Its old school yellow journalism at its finest.
Regardless, this will be worth watching to see what develops...
Rules for Living from Nassim Taleb
Taleb's top life tips
1. Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.
2. Go to parties. You can’t even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.
3. It’s not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.
4. Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act — if you can’t control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behaviour. You will always have the last word.
5. Don’t disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don’t understand their logic. Don’t pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific ‘evidence’.
6. Learn to fail with pride — and do so fast and cleanly. Maximise trial and error — by mastering the error part.
7. Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’, ‘too difficult’ too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take ‘no’ for an answer (conversely, take most ‘yeses’ as ‘most probably’).
8. Don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants... or (again) parties.
9. Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.
10. Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.
click for video
Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the prophet of boom and doom
The Sunday Times, June 1, 2008
Book Review: Age of Turbulence
I would NEVER buy Greenspan's book. I think he is responsible for so many of the recent financial woes -- inflation & $145 Oil, Credit Crunch, Housing Debacle -- I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
Turns out I didn't have to. Scribd.com courteously provided a research copy.
Who knew you could even do this?
Bailout Nation: Treasury, SEC on Bailouts
I did three segments Tuesday on Yahoo Tech Ticker at the Nasdaq:
Here is the last, on Bailouts, Fannie & Freddie:
Click for video
Bailout Nation: Paulson, Cox, Shorts Weigh in On Fannie, Freddie
Yahoo Tech Ticker, Jul 15, 2008 07:00am EDT
Book Review: Confessions of a Subprime Lender
Interesting looking book flagged by the WSJ, called Confessions of a Subprime Lender.
The story is told by Richard Bitner, who founded his own subprime mortgage company right as the industry was taking off. Over five years, the company boomed.
Confessions of a Subprime Lender is his insider story -- disillusionment, fraud, greed, ignorance. A year after he gets out and leaves the industry, sub-prime imploded.
From the publisher: "Woven throughout his personal industry experiences is the fascinating story of how an industry started out helping disadvantaged customers buy houses, but soon lost its way due to greed, lack of financial control, and willful ignorance. This book reveals the truth about how various parts of the mortgage business yielded to the temptation to maximize profits, weakening the chain that held the system together."
The book covers:
Why nearly three out of every four mortgages were misleading or fraudulent;
How unscrupulous brokers tricked lenders and gullible borrowers;
How brokers and lenders turned unqualified applicants into "qualified borrowers";
Why Wall Street and the rating agencies are largely to blame for the collapse;
Funny, nothing mentioned in the book about Predatory Borrowing.
"Bitner's thorough review of the subprime lending industry provides a behind-the-scenes look at the mortgage mess. From the broker on Main Street to the investor on Wall Street, it's an unabridged version of what went wrong and how it needs to be fixed." —Bill Dallas, founder, First Franklin Mortgage, one of America's largest subprime lenders, before it collapsed
"This is an in-depth, eye-opening examination of the problems impacting the housing and mortgage markets." —Matthew McIntyre, CEO, Puritan Financial Group, Inc.
This is definitely on my shortlist of Housing books to read . . .
Confessions of a Subprime Lender
Wiley, 186 pages, $19.95
Money for Nothing
JAMES R. HAGERTY
WSJ June 25, 2008; Page A13
Deception and Abuse at the Fed
Bloomberg's Caroline Baum reviews the book Deception and Abuse at the Fed:
"Until the U.S. Federal Reserve took the unprecedented step of financing the purchase of Bear Stearns Cos. by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in March, criticism of the central bank was largely confined to its conduct of monetary policy.
The institution itself usually got a pass. Lone voices that dared to knock the Fed were drowned out by its supporters in the financial community -- the very bankers the Fed regulates.
One of those lone voices, U.S. Representative Henry Gonzalez, came from the Lone Star State. Neither the power of the Fed nor the near-mythic status of its longtime chairman, Alan Greenspan, deterred the late Texas populist.
As chairman of the House Banking Committee from 1989 to 1994, he relentlessly pressed for public scrutiny of what he called a secretive agency wielding enormous power, writes Robert D. Auerbach in his convincing first-hand chronicle of Gonzalez's battle, "Deception and Abuse at the Fed."
Auerbach details how the Federal Reserve is "the most powerful peacetime bureaucracy in the federal government." While most of congress and Wall Street were lauding the "genius" of the Maestro -- FOMC chair Alan Greenspan -- few seemed to notice that Fed operated with almost no public accountability. The singular exception: Henry B. Gonzalez (D-TX)—chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services (banking) Committee.
The author documents what he terms abuses at the Fed:
• Blocking Congress and the public from holding powerful Fed officials accountable by falsely declaring—for 17 years—it had no transcripts of its meetings;
• Manipulating the stock and bond markets in 1994 under cover of a preemptive strike against inflation;
• Allowing $5.5 billion to be sent to Saddam Hussein from a small Atlanta branch of a foreign bank—the result of faulty bank examination practices by the Fed;
• Stonewalling Congressional investigations and misleading the Washington Post about the $6,300 found on the Watergate burglars.
I haven't read this yet, but it certainly looks interesting . . .
Deception and Abuse at the Fed: Henry B. Gonzalez Battles Alan Greenspan's Bank
Robert D. Auerbach
Greenspan, `Master of Garblements,' Fares Poorly in Book on Fed
Bloomberg, June 5 2008