Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The beginnings of a huge conspiracy theory

Inky99 riffs on a column by Ben Stein (of all people; Stein's been down this road before, and was roundly lambasted for even suggesting Wall Street conflict of interest problems), in which Stein hints at a remarkable Wall Street three-part conflict-of-interest conspiracy theory:
  1. Wall Street investment houses were selling investments based on bundled sub-prime loans, while simultaneously gambling that the investments were junk;

  2. The gambling was set up in such a way - using derivatives called Credit Default Swaps, essentially insurance policies against certain levels of default in the underlying mortgages (ironically, this 'insurance' was the reason that some of these securities were sold as 'blue chip investments') - that the same investment houses knew, because of their own speculative gambling behavior, would lead to a country- and world-wide financial disaster that could only be fixed by a government bail-out; and

  3. The same investment houses, most notably Goldman Sachs, have been quietly staffing high American government finance positions with their own employees, who, if you can believe it, came up with a plan to deal with the problem by showering their own firms with gifts of American government money.

Of course, the fourth part of the conspiracy is that both American political parties work for the same mob of investment houses, and will pass whatever legislation they are told to pass, with the Democrats adding a bit of window dressing to prove they are not 'selling out to Wall Street'.