By Matt Stoller, author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy and the research director of the American Economic Liberties Project who writes regularly at Substack
It’s a phrase I love, (though its origins are disputed), because it speaks to the essential quality missing from our politics and that you can always find at Naked Capitalism. Substance.
I rely on this site, because I know that whatever is on here is here because of some serious vetting, and the logic is spelled out in detail. Take, for instance, Yves Smith’s pursuit of CalPERS, the California pension fund that is unaccountable, incompetent, sloppy, and corrupt. Nearly everyone in finance and the antitrust world simply takes it for granted that public pension funds must hand over their money to private equity goons, like it’s a law of the universe. Virtually no one is willing to actually cover the nitty-gritty ugly political choices that staffers and board members of these funds make, every day, to facilitate mass theft.
Yves does that. And it matters, for two reasons. First, it makes the bad guys ever so slightly less willing to act as overtly piggishly as they might like. Second, it makes those with integrity act more courageously than they might have imagined possible. As Daniel Ellsburg once said, “Courage is contagious.” I might add, so is truth.
That’s why supporting Yves Smith, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, Nick and this community, are so meaningful. Naked Capitalism offers the single most important message to all of us, both inside and outside these institutions: You are not alone.And it offers a related message to all of our foes, both inside and outside these institutions: We are not going away.
A donation means we endorse both of these messages. So if you believe, as I do, that a community of truth matters, then give what you can at the Donations page. If you have a lot, give a lot. If you have nothing, then give words of encouragement. It all matters.
It has not been an easy few year for purveyors of truth. I work with people on both sides of the aisle, and the most common problem is not bad faith, or deception, or corruption. It’s total disinterest in details. 80% of the articles on business or politics in the mainstream media are soap opera nonsense. Scratch that. My deepest apologies to soap operas, who at least try to make a pretense at narrative integrity. This choice not to tell stories based on the underlying details is why politicians only care about topline superficial stuff – that’s where the incentives are. Naked Capitalism is changing those incentives, by actually showing the underlying substance. Let’s keep that going with a donation.
If you can’t afford anything, you can still help by spreading the word about Naked Capitalism by telling friends and family, circulating important stories, posting links on Facebook and other social media. Actually, never use Facebook or social media. Just don’t. You’ll be happier.
The other part of focusing on details is that it puts you ahead of the curve. I first came to Naked Capitalism way back in 2006, before the financial crisis, when Yves was noting that problems in securitization would get very bad. She was right then, because she looked at the details how these instruments were put together and played the movie out before it hit the real world. It took four years for the policy world to catch up. It’s been no different ever since, from looking at the business model of Uber to the collapse of Boeing to the Eurozone crisis.
This year, the Naked Capitalism community has been dead-on about supply chain and shipping issues, antitrust, the CDC’s failed ‘mission accomplished’ moment, the aerosolized nature of Covid, and the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions. This kind of content matters. Doctors have set up office ventilation based on what they learned here, from Yves, and from all of you.
So if you want to know what we’ll all be recognizing as problems in a few years, this is where to find it now. That’s why support is so essential, because this kind of reporting and analysis forces them to pay attention.
And of course, it’s not just Yves. Lambert consumes and shares a remarkable amount of research, ranging from Covid research to bogs and mangroves, Jerri-Lynn covers right to repair, antitrust, opioid settlement, glysophate cases, and much else from a legal perspective. Nick Corbishley has extended Naked Capitalism’s coverage of little-noted stories on banking, political economy, and Covid in Europe and Latin America.
I like to give rousing talks about the hope of democracy and its never-ending capacity for renewal. In times like this, it’s very hard to imagine such rhetoric is meaningful. But I take solace in a couple of things. First, much of what you talk about here is actually making its way into policy. In my own particular world of antitrust, it’s been stunning. Two years ago, there was no chance at any change. Today there are five antitrust suits against Google, two against Facebook, one against Amazon, and likely more in very short order. In other areas, like the public health world, the CDC has been forced to retreat into a more rigorous approach, because they have been corrected by people like Yves, and all of you.
And second, even though things look hopeless sometimes, it’s always nice to know that we still have the capacity to annoy some very bad people merely by telling the truth. They know the details, and they know that their power rests on the rest of us not knowing them. So Naked Capitalism is always in the back of their well-manicured if balding heads. Help her keep annoying them! You can donate here.
Plus, this site talks about gardens. And who doesn’t love gardens? CalPERS! That’s who! Ok, that’s a lie.