As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Media-Financial Complex

CNBC decided to respond to the righteous Jon Stewart rant against them on a Friday so he couldn't talk about it on that night's show. Their claim is that Stewart is "bizarrely obsessed" with their network, and Stewart was repeatedly calling Rick Santelli to come on the show. That's, um, called BOOKING A GUEST. Maybe CNBC doesn't do much of that, they just have a "CEO room" in Manhattan and just put the camera on whoever shows up there. It's not like they ask much of a variance of questions: "How great is your company doing? Is it awesome to be rich?"

Meanwhile, the network and other right-wing market populists continue to push the idea that Obama is responsible for the Dow's fall since Inauguration Day. I guess the business climate and the job loss has nothing to do with it.

The argument that Obama is somehow responsible for the collapse of Wall Street is absurd. First, every major policy that led to this collapse occurred under George W.'s watch (or, more accurately, his failure to watch). The housing and financial bubbles were created under Bush and exploded under Bush. The stock market began to collapse under Bush.

Second, it's inevitable that stocks, led by the bloated financial sector, would lose their remaining hot air as the new administration begins "stress-testing" the big banks, many of which are technically insolvent. After all, their share prices were built on a tissue of lies and dreams. Other sectors whose values were similarly distorted and distended by years of financial deception and regulatory disregard, such as housing and insurance, will also have to return to the real world before they can recover. Which could mean more stock losses.

Finally, none of the financial wizards who are now charging Obama with leading America into the abyss have offered an alternative plan for getting us out of the mess that, not incidentally, many of these same wizards happily led us into. For years, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the financial gurus of cable news cheered as Wall Street leveraged its way into oblivion.

Obviously, Wall Street rage is aimed at getting the biggest banks paid off and the shareholders made whole so that only taxpayers will bear the burden of the collapse. There may be a very good reason, however, for outlets like CNBC, in particular Jim Cramer, to claim that Obama is responsible for the fall of the market. It deflects the blame from themselves. The story of Deep Capture is epic and needs to be read in full by the investigators who followed it for years to really understand. But TocqueDeville at Daily Kos does a pretty decent summarizing job.

This rabbit hole involves the thugs surrounding Jim Cramer and some of the top financial "journalists" from the New York Times, WSJ, Fortune magazine and BusinessWeek, top hedge funds, the Mafia, and the DTCC. It also includes "blackmail, smear campaigns, espionage, fraud, harassment, extortion, bribery, rumor-mongering, sabotage, off-shore money laundering, political cronyism, frivolous lawsuits, witness tampering, biased financial research, false identities, bogus credit ratings, bribery, libelous blogs, bad science, forgery, wiretapping, counterfeiting, collusion, lying, cheating, threats and theft."

And if that wasn't fun enough, it may be the underlying story of what collapsed the entire, global banking system or at least served as the catalyst for the collapse.

We're talking about financial journalists using the power of their megaphone to trash a stock, or even tout it at the last minute, and then, through naked short-selling, earn millions while destroying public companies. And Jim Cramer is perhaps the greatest offender.

I have analyzed well over a thousand stories written by this clique of journalists. The vast majority of them were sourced from a small group of short-sellers who are also friends of Cramer. Other popular sources for this group of journalists include convicted felons, mobsters, dubious private investigators, crooked lawyers, hired stock bashers, and gun-toting goons - most of whom are tied to the Cramer constellation of short-sellers.

Some of the stories written by these reporters are accurate enough. But many are not. The journalists misconstrue data with seemingly purposeful intent. They exaggerate and obfuscate. They publish innuendo or merely repeat, Deus Optimus Maximus, the words of their hedge fund and criminal friends. A single negative story by one of these reporter-thugs can send a company’s stock tumbling by more than 50% — pure profit for their hedge fund sources, who of course sell the company short (often right before the articles are published). Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of the companies targeted by these journalists will also be the victims of phantom stock selling and other shenanigans. The journalists do not mention this in their stories, and in fact go out of their way to deny that phantom stock exists.

Anyone who says otherwise is subjected to a vicious media smear.

It doesn't take much these days to persuade you that anyone on Wall Street is a crook. But Mark Mitchell had the goods. Cramer understood the value of information, like any inside trader. Then he got the power, through his own TV show, to control that information. And the method that Cramer and his cronies apparently preferred, naked short-selling, has been brought up as a possible culprit in the fall of Bear Stearns. Sen. Jon Tester even brought it up in a hearing with then-SEC chair Christopher Cox in April 2008.

This financial meltdown isn't entirely due to the people who made money on the way down. But the corroded relationship between the Masters of the Universe and the subjects who cover them - the Media-Financial Complex - is absolutely a part of this tale. And the phantom stock - invented wealth that can appear and disappear - is just another of the exotic financial instruments created by people who push paper and add zeroes to their balance sheets and call it work, paper and securities that are then leveraged and bet upon and sliced and diced until nobody understands them and just doesn't want to get left holding them when the organ stops playing and the big dance ends.

Read the story of Deep Capture. It's a through-the-looking-glass experience. Anyway, I can think of a guest for Stewart's next show...

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