Market Strategy

Unravelling financial crisis

D. Murali | Updated on October 22, 2011

BL23WEEKEND



Search ‘Wall Street' in Google News, and what do you get? “30 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested in NY,” AFP - 1 hour ago; “Occupy Wall Street: The Right Focus,” BusinessWeek (blog) - John Schmitt - 10 hours ago; “More workers join anti-Wall Street protesters,” TVNZ - ý1 hour agoý; “‘Occupy Wall Street' goes global,” Malaysia Star - Lin See-Yan - ý2 hours agoý; and thousands more such headlines.

Part of the negative public mood stems from the fact that three years after the financial disaster, there have been very few indictments, and even fewer convictions, over events that nearly sent the US into another Great Depression, writes Ms Maria Bartiromo in The Weekend that Changed Wall Street: And how the fallout is still impacting our world ( >www.penguin.com ). “Added to that are some 8.4 million jobs lost in the recession, many of which have yet to come back.”

She frets that it does not help the public perception of Wall Street and business to see insider trading trials, such as Raj Rajaratnam's, who was convicted of fraud in 2011, where prosecutors have pounded away at what they called a ‘network of greed and corruption.”

Bizarrely, a top story about the former hedge fund manager of Galleon Group is Mr Aaron Smith's – in http://money.cnn.com, 17 hours ago – that the US taxpayers could be ‘bankrolling a kidney transplant for wealthy white-collar convict Raj Rajaratnam, who was recently sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for insider trading.'

Continues Mr Smith, that the cost could exceed $300,000 if he is able to secure a kidney early in his sentence, including the price of the transplant and a decade's worth of post-operative therapy. The story has attracted 179 comments already, including this, from horseshoe70: “My plans all along have been if I am ever diagnosed with a major illness, I would conduct a ‘No Weapon' bank robbery, get thrown in the slammer and get free health care;” and “Let India pay for it. There has to be some poor soul over there that would help this slob,” from Foxholedude, 9 minutes ago.

Warning signs

Acknowledging that the story of the financial industry's collapse is still being written, Ms Bartiromo notes that by looking back, we can pinpoint the warning signs. For instance, nobody was paying attention to the interconnectedness of all the industries, she observes. “Problems in the housing market were viewed as severe, but people were talking about it as if it were just the health of one industry that was at stake. Not true. The housing market was linked to the investment banks and ultimately to the newly globalised financial system, and when the thread was pulled, everything began to unravel.”

The author is aghast that even those in the top echelon of the US economy failed to recognise the looming crisis presented by sub-prime. She cites, as example, the quote of Mr Alan Greenspan, before he stepped down as Fed chairman, disputing suggestions of a housing bubble, by calling it nothing more than ‘froth' in certain markets. “Mr Ben Bernanke, then chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers and soon to replace Greenspan, told Congress that he believed the boom reflected positive aspects in the economy, like job and housing growth.” Topical read, as a show of solidarity with the ‘Wall Street' protesters, the world over.

Published on October 22, 2011

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