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By a DC insider
It may not feel like we’re winning because the institutions arrayed against would never admit that, and they control the media megaphones. But we are winning. And Naked Capitalism is one of the key pieces of the puzzle. That’s why your donations matter, not just because this is a good community and information source, but because it’s a useful, a dangerous, a powerful network and information source. So dig deep. Support it. Give.
The reason this site matters is because of the focus on the details. The bad guys, the 0.1% and their retainers, win when the public is absent, when it’s too boring to join those multi-trillion dollar discussions. like how a bloated financial services industry increases inequality and is a drag on growth, or why our health care system performs like a Trabant when Americans pay Mercedes prices, or why austerity is good only for the capitalist classes. In other words, they win when the corporate press, owned and operated by Wall Street, ignores the machinations of big money except on the insider tip sheets only read by pros. But because of Naked Capitalism, you are there. And as surprising as it may seem, a relatively small number of people casting a skeptical glance really has an impact.
Here are two areas when you have made a real difference. First, private equity. Private equity general partners are the robber barons of our era. They own. They consolidate. They control. And they shackle us, as Brandeis pointed out, in golden fetters made with our own gold. They take our money through our pension funds and insurance companies and use it to buy our companies and fire our friends and family. Yves is throwing sand, slowly but surely, into this entire enterprise. She’s going at the heart of the beast, not just at the wolves themselves, the general partners. They are predators, and predators do what they do. It is the protectors that have failed.
Yves went at the Securities and Exchange Commission. She got the SEC’s Andrew Bowden, the man who was supposed to protect us, to resign. She caught him talking up the virtues of the business, and even joking about his son getting a job in private equity. He was a servant of the barons, tasked by the public to constrain them. And now he is gone from that role. Good. Yves did that. We did that.
And Yves is going at the managers at CalPERS, the giant pension fund, run by fiduciaries that are supposed to manage our money. They failed to protect not just their beneficiaries, but the broader economy. They failed with junk bonds, even back in the 1980s. They failed when they invested in Enron off-balance sheet vehicles. They failed when they invested in CDOs, buying the risky tranches so toxic that AIG and the monolines wouldn’t dream of touching them, and at the very time when banks were not just desperately dumping them before the subprime market shut down for good, but when banks like Goldman were going short. They failed with hedge funds. Even though Yves pointed out in 2006 that they’d pretty much admitted that, it wasn’t until last year that CalPERS announced it would stop investing in them. And they now fail with private equity. And Yves is shining a spotlight, once again on players like CalPERS, who have failed at their task of constraining the barons and have instead become their servants. This is good. It will work. Remember, a key advantage the other side had maintained is a monopoly on information and legitimacy. It’s a massive monkey wrench in their well-oiled operation when independent sites like this one blow up their model of discussing how they will loot quietly with no one else in on the conversation.
So give. Because we’re winning. Scott Alvarez, the Fed’s general counsel and the moving force behind anti-regulatory policies, is sitting on his heels, quiet now and under intense scrutiny. There’s increasing discussion of what needs to happen to shift the ACA (thanks Lambert), not due to knee-jerk opposition from the right but from an actual understanding of the problems faced by people going through the system. There’s real interest in private equity now among insiders, and this will splash out soon over tax policy and eventually other forms of legal shackles. Hillary Clinton produced a plan on Wall Street, and even she had to emphasize sending financiers to jail and putting stronger constraints on the banks. This is not to say she’s sincere, only that she put forward a “reasonable” plan and it was laughed at by reformers. That shows how far the conversation has moved. Bernie Sanders is actually a real candidate for President, and he’s injecting these ideas into the discourse. Even Donald Trump is talking about how hedge fund managers are paper pushers, and he’s still leading the Republicans.
The institutions are still arrayed against us, and they are fighting dirty for everything they can get. But the public is with us. The public is there. They just need the information ammunition. That’s what this site provides. And it’s only a matter of time before the institutions start changing their positions. We are already seeing that with CalPERS. That’s when the magic happens.
So dig deep. Give.
It may not always look like it or feel like it (and believe me, that’s one of their advantages), but you’re making a safer, saner, more just world.
And, if for no other reason that hedge fund consultant Ben Bernanke named his book “The Courage to Act” and you want someone to actually tell the truth about what he did, give.