Harry Shearer: Naked Capitalism – A Beacon in the Fog of Disinformation

This is Naked Capitalism fundraising week. 560 donors have already invested in our efforts to shed light on the dark and seamy corners of finance. Join us and participate via our Tip Jar or another credit card portal, WePay in the right column, or read about why we’re doing this fundraiser and other ways to donate, such as by check, on our kickoff post or one discussing our current target.

By Harry Shearer, satirist, author, filmmaker and host of Le Show

I don’t even remember now how I don’t even remember now how I first came upon Naked Capitalism. What I do know is that, in the welter of myth and theology that passes for the preponderance of public discussion of economic issues, this site has been a beacon of fact, empiricism and skeptical reporting. Yves and her cohorts have consistently been ahead of the curve on what I call the “new F-bomb”–foreclosure, and the whole mortgage-industrial complex that’s done so much to bring us the good times we’re enjoying now. Through Yves, I’ve also been introduced to the writing of Bill Black, who’s brought his experience in the S&L scandal to an understanding of the pervasiveness of fraud in finance, and Stephanie Kelton, who along with her colleagues is trying to break through the Pete Petersonization of the “adult conversation” we’re supposed to be having about debt and deficits.

I know Yves regularly cites the depth and quality of the comments on NC, but since I usually read the email version, I hadn’t experienced those attributes for myself until I read the responses to my article Preventing Another Sandy (ego makes people do strange things). Whether or not they agreed with my piece, the knowledge and lack of cant in those comments compare very favorably with comments sections on any other venue I’ve ever written for.

With so many former authority figures, from medical researchers to journalistic luminaries, having turned themselves into saleable commodities, NC has become first stop on my daily search for something resembling useful information. It’s not for sale, but it doesn’t happen for free. This is Naked Capitalism’s fund-raising week, and the insight and information it offers is worth paying for. At least I think so.

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  1. Petey

    As a regular twenty year weekly listener to Le Show, and as a regular daily reader of Yves’ thang, I must say that I find the two of you finding one another to be A Very Happy Thing.

    (Well, I actually missed Le Show for a couple of years after I moved out of Los Angeles, and before the whole internet thing caught on, but otherwise it’s been my regular Sunday Church Service, rarely missed.)

    You and Yves fit together like peas in a pod. Huzzah!

  2. Petey

    “…trying to break through the Pete Petersonization of the “adult conversation” we’re supposed to be having about debt and deficits.”

    While Peterson has long been a pernicious figure in Federal politics, it’s only now that we’re stuck in a Long ZIRP Depression that his particular brand of strong malign influence has turned him into The Worst Person in the World.

    (Well, I suppose Angela Merkel could give him a run for the money, but I’m a lot more clued into the subtleties of the US political scene than the Eurozone scene..)

    Fighting Pete Petersonization is the best reason I can think of to kick a few bucks to help running Yves’ wonderful enterprise.

  3. Wake Up America!

    The “F” bomb. That is exactly what Bank of America dropped on me. After close to two decades of prompt payments (never late once)they used an erroneous vacancy report to start foreclosure proceedings. How and why does this happen? I suggest reading “Servicer-Driven Foreclosures: The Perfect Crime?” – posted by Yves in November of 2010.

    The line from this piece that stands out is “when a borrower gets caught in the servicer hall of mirrors of compounding fees and charges, there is no way to appeal and pretty much no way out.” This is exactly what I experienced and when I try to decribe it to others, I get that quizzical look your dog gives you when he doesn’t understand. This is my cue to forward this story as well as the video of Yves being interviewed on the subject.

    Like “2little2late” whose struggle was profiled yesterday, I too am David taking on Goliath. I am optimistic but also realistic. I know my money will run out long before they are unable to “borrow” from the Fed for nothing. I just could not live with myself if I gave them a free house without a fight. Despite what the media would have you believe, it is the bank who usually ends up getting the proverbial “free house.”

    The “F” bomb left much wreckage but thanks to sites like NC, I survived. I know there are many others who are in this foxhole of foreclosure fraud with me.

    So what to do with this $50 burning a hole in my pocket? I could buy about 10 minutes of time with my attorney or pay towards my long past due therapy bill. It’s on the way, Yves.

  4. Elmer

    I understand donating to the maintenance of the site, but once ‘travel money’ comes into play I get wary. Ex-Mckinsey and Harvard graduates have expensive tastes, no matter how noble their intentions.

    Is Naked Capitalism a non-profit? Will you post breakdowns of the expenses? I’d hate to see the bulk of the money going to four star hotels, rather than a Red Roof Inn.

    I’m aware conferences are VERY expensive. In my technical area entry alone is $1200-$2000 per conference. Yes, I value the site, but I assume all the contributors are trust fund types with few monetary worries.

    1. Wake Up America!

      Trust fund types? Have you been sniffing glue Elmer? As far as the writers who contribute to NC, you obviously have not read any of Lambert’s posts/comments on his background. Many of the readers who make NC a daily stop have been damaged by the financial crisis – that’s why they are here.

      1. rotter

        probably most people who come here have good reason to doubt the system. We are a majority if Americans could just overcome thier conditioning and realize “the system” sucks…all of it..not just the small part of it that affronted me, or you, but collectively, all of us.

    2. ScottS

      I budget $100 a month for gifts/donations. That includes gifts for birthdays, mother’s day, donations to hospitals and charity walks, etc. Whenever there’s anything left over, it goes to Naked Capitalism. If you think that makes me wealthy, fine. Why that would be a problem, I don’t understand. As far as trust funds go, I had never even heard of one until after college, and I’ve certainly never had one, let alone been given one.

      But as someone who graduated in the depths of the dot-com meltdown, I understand that people can work hard, put themselves through college, and still not find a job due to Wall Street shenanigans. I see a lot of engineers posting comments here, and I know they have had the same realization — that it isn’t enough simply to mind your own business. Wall Streeters have made it their mission to put their hands in everyone else’s pockets, and you ignore it at our collective peril.

      Naked Capitalism is a crash course in modern finance that we desperately need. If you don’t think that’s worth funding, it’s to all of our (net) loss.

      As for the drive-by accusation of four star wining and dining, I find it impossible to believe that Yves does what she does for the money. She gets far too little sleep to be so self-centered. But you bring up a good point on the financing of media. So try asking the nice people at WaPo and HuffPo where the money comes from and where it goes. That would be far more interesting.

    3. readerOfTeaLeaves

      While I’m sure your comments may be well intentioned, to me they smack of the kind of micromanaging bullshit that prompted me to quit at least one good job.

      Given Yves’ range of expertise, I think most of us who come here — of whatever financial heft — trust her with money. If years worth of detailed, insightful posts don’t assure you of her accountability, nothing will.

      I’m not even going to take on the point about whether conferences are worth it or not. Perhaps you have not checked out the INET website? If you’ve followed the blog for any time at all, you’ll see that she’s attended that conference. There’s a great deal of good info on their website about new approaches and solutions to solving the greater social mess we are in.

      (Sorry Yves and Lambert, I know that I am violating the , “Do Not Feed…” mantra… But anyone who questions the legitimacy of attending an INET conference puts me right over the edge.)

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      If you don’t want to give, don’t give, but to come and impugn my integrity, which looks like an effort to discourage donations, is nasty.

      I went to Harvard in the day when ordinary middle class parents could afford tuition, room and board. When I go to conferences, I stay in the hotel rooms booked by the organizer (they hold a block for participants at a discount) OR I stay some place cheaper (as I did with INET in Berlin).

      As for “4 star meals”, that is big time projection. I don’t have any social life thanks to the demands of running this site and a fancy meal is more TIME than I can afford. And it may not occur to you that I get invited to lunch/drinks/dinner/parties ALL THE TIME and pretty much never go. Plus I find it hard to maintain my weight; I actually am not that keen about going out for anything more lavish than sushi.

      As for wanting an accounting, go look at the CounterPunch fundraiser. They want $75,000. They don’t tell you exactly what for, they just make it clear they need it. The money here is for certain budgeted items which I specify during the fundraiser to let readers know what it will allow me to do that I probably could not do otherwise. If you’ve ever run a business, you know needs change. I would up spending more on pre-commited site coverage by Lambert and Stoller and less on other third party help than I anticipated in my fundraiser last year. And the reason I don’t have a not for profit is it would greatly increase my admin (particularly accounting) costs, since I’d still keep my current corp for some activities (like public speaking gigs, book royalties). And not for profits require more tax admin. Most banks also require MUCH higher minimum balances for fee free checking for a not for profit ($10,000 versus $1,000 for a normal business account). It just doesn’t make sense at the level the blog is at; we’d need to be generating at least twice as much as we are in revenues (ads + fundraiser) for it to even think about it.

      Please go read some other blog. If you are that jealous of others, I’m not sure you belong here.

    5. Jerome A. Grossman

      . . . would you believe, someone who was out of work for 7 months earlier this year, who exhausted his 401(k) to keep his mortgages current and pay down his credit card balances, who finally found a job that paid 60% of his former salary, leaving him with a budgetary hole of $4K/mo. until he could complete a short sale of the house he’d owned for over 20 years? Trust-fund type? No, just someone who values the information he finds here, and wants to help keep it coming.

      1. Jerome A. Grossman

        (Also affected greatly by the financial crisis: my last employer hired me to help document commercial real estate loans destined for the CMBS market that evaporated in 2007.)

    6. Lord Koos

      Huh. I’m a broke musician who unfortunately could only afford to send NC a pittance at this time, however I felt I had to send something as I read the site so often. So much for your assumptions.

  5. ominousMIDI

    I’m a fellow casualty of the financial crisis, though unlike “Wake Up” and “2Little,” I’ve been fortunate to have only lost a series of jobs (I used to work in finish carpentry). All the same, calling me strapped for cash is something of an understatement.

    The way I see it, a good source of trustworthy financial info is priceless. Hell, I used to spend $65/month on cable, and all that did was make me stupid. The quality and amount of content (Seriously, I have a tough time getting through it all some days!) on NC is worth far more than I could possibly pay. Even if every penny were going to an occasional sanity check in a nice hotel for Yves, which I doubt, I’d happily keep donating what I can. She and the rest of the staff have earned it.

  6. just me

    I found Le Show via NC, when I heard about Yves’ hour-long interview there two years ago. The interview was great, thank you Harry and Yves, and now I’m a fan of the show in regular weeks too — I don’t think I’ve missed one since. Atty, F-Bomb, News of the Godly, News of the Warm, News of the Inspectors General, Tales of Airport Security… :-)

    Here in the clueless bleachers, Harry’s long conversation interviews are a godsend to me. I get more of the big picture that way, things come together.

    Yves’ first interview, 12/5/10: http://harryshearer.com/le-shows/december-05-2010/
    Bill Black interview, 5/1/11: http://harryshearer.com/le-shows/may-1/
    David Cay Johnston interview, 8/14/11: http://harryshearer.com/le-shows/august-14/
    Yves’ second interview, 2/12/12: http://harryshearer.com/le-shows/february-12/
    Stephanie Kelton interview, 10/28/12: http://harryshearer.com/le-shows/october-28-2012/

    Thank you, Harry. Thank you, Yves. You guys are amazing, and we in the bleachers are so lucky.

    1. just me

      Transcripts are under the News tab:

      Yves #1 – New F-bomb, foreclosure mess: http://harryshearer.com/donec-vitae-odio/
      Bill Black (with David Cay Johnston’s picture??) – Wall St. crimes, perverse incentives and pathethic regulation: http://harryshearer.com/duis-id-nulla-et/
      David Cay Johnston – Offshoring, tax schemes: http://harryshearer.com/mauris-ut-est-sit/
      Yves #2 – Mortgage bank fraud update, European meltdown: http://harryshearer.com/aenean-tellus-ligula/
      Yves #3 – Morgage settlement: http://harryshearer.com/morbi-iaculis-orci/
      Stephanie Kelton – MMT: http://harryshearer.com/transcript-stephanie-kelton-interview/

      Shoot, this means that I missed listing Yves’ second interview podcast in comment above, and the one I called second is actually third.

      Second Yves, 10/2/11: http://harryshearer.com/le-shows/october-2
      Third Yves, 2/12/12: http://harryshearer.com/le-shows/february-12


  7. Kevin Harvey Oswald

    I am aware of NC because Yves has been on LeShow. Donation on its way–and no, not from my (non-existent) trust fund.

  8. astrid

    I found NC via Yves’s first Le Show interview. She was/is a blast of fresh arctic air, blowing away all the bullshit peddled by the Libertarians, the Washington Monthly *progressives*, and other *very serious people*.

    Thanks Harry!

  9. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

    One feature of this Blog that isn’t mentioned often is that posts can be turned into instant podcasts via the “Odiogo.com” button. For the Neil Barofsky endorsement, “Neil Barofsky: Why Naked Capitalism Matters”, I just listened to that post using the Odiogo.com button. Often, prosecutors and former prosecutors have a way of saying significant things in a flowing, discursive, understated way. Also, they have a way of saying all they feel needs to be said, and no more. I never would have imagined that Neil Barofsky would learn much from Naked Capitalism, in part because of the job title he held for about 18 months (or whatever it was): Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        Hi Aquifer,

        It’s not clear to me how to get the
        Odiogo.com “Listen Now” button appear
        at will.

        I hope this below helps.

        Lambert Strether: Why You Should Give to Naked Capitalism

        [ Listen Now ]

        I’m taking dictation from the ‘bot reading Lambert:

        It works for me: a ‘bot reads:
        “they are not asked”
        “an old-school blogger”
        “did I mention the Tip Jar?”
        “to my first point”
        “keep the cycle of giving in motion”.

        Do I pass taking dictation from the ‘bot reading
        Lambert Strether’s post?


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