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Hullabaloo


Thursday, May 06, 2010

 
The MOUs Play With Fire

by digby


I've been watching the riots in Greece all morning as people are burning down banks and all manner of violence is hitting the streets there. As I write this, the DOW is down 980 points. Looks like we've a problem.

For some reason my thoughts wandered to this:

Already, Fabulous Fab—as he calls himself in e-mails released by the SEC—has two Facebook fan pages devoted to him. New York magazine breathlessly reported on his life, including the $4,000-a-month Manhattan apartment he once rented. The 15 Wall Street employees—20- and 30-something bankers, traders, and former Goldman employees—whom NEWSWEEK interviewed for this piece say they admire the way Tourre foresaw the collapse in the housing market and structured a lucrative deal for his client, hedge-fund impresario John Paulson. Goldman Sachs refused to comment or to pass along Tourre's contact information. "Everyone thinks he has a bit of swagger," says former investment banker and Columbia Business School professor David Beim. "Everyone is cheering for him."

[...]


For these young Wall Street types, Tourre embodies the culture of the financial world and offers a road map for success. He's the real-life Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street: the cocky alpha male who writes e-mails in which he calls himself the "only potential survivor ... standing in the middle of all of these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades." He's a doppelgänger to Michael Lewis's autobiographical protagonist in Liar's Poker, who sells bad products to unknowing chump investors, and he's becoming a cultural icon to his contemporaries because they empathize with him. One of them could just as easily have been the salesman on the Abacus deal, if only they had been that smart or lucky. "There's a self-serving role in this. If what he did is wrong, then what they do is wrong on a daily basis," says Adam Galinsky, professor of ethics and leadership at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "It's not wrong to them, because it's the water they swim in."

This fascination with Tourre also spells disaster for transforming or regulating Wall Street. The future Fabulous Fabs of the world will not be deterred by this case, says Wall Street historian Charles Geisst, because this line of work will continue to appeal to those who want to make piles of money or develop financial products in lieu of curing cancer, building bridges, or marketing tangible products. To the bankers, Tourre's e-mails in which he expresses doubt about the validity of the products he's selling only make him that much more likable. "The fact that his e-mails have a slight sarcastic bentd to them makes them more noteworthy," says Galinsky. "He's not just a machine. He has a playful nature. At some level, the tone mitigates it. At some level, it makes it more horrific."


Keep swaggering boys. Keep patting yourselves on the back. Keep telling the dumb rubes you deserve these million dollar bonuses for treating them like your playthings. And pray that this situation doesn't get any worse.

MSNBC anchor: Is what we're seeing here a preview of what we're seeing in Greece?

Ratigan: Yes. What you have is a corrupt government rigging the game for special interests ... the banking industry being the most obvious right now where we subsidize the TBTF banks. And when that is done where the government comes out and says, Alex, "we're going to have an austerity measure for you and we're going to raise taxes on you," and the people say, "hang on a moment, the government is corrupt and rigging the game for special interests, has given all this money away to bankers and is now turning its attention back to the American people --- basically to say they're going to cut our social security in order to pay for the banks."

That's the sort of thing that gets people pretty upset.



Update: CNBC is saying the drop in the DOW is because of financial reform. Now that's funny.

Update II: now they're saying it was a "glitch."
Evidently, the fact that there were pics all over the TV at that very moment of banks burning in Greece for the second night, couldn't possibly have contributed to a bunch of heroic Galts fouling their trousers.


h/t to JS

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