Friday, February 13, 2009

Blame Game

Time has decided to provide us with a useful service today. Instead of reporting on news or providing analysis, they've given us a something to channel our finance based rage into. No, not a large pinata filled with food stamps shaped like Bernie Madoff. A Top 25 "Whose To Blame" list, where people can vote on who they think is most to blame for this crisis. It's interactive and provides real time blame updating. As of this writing our friend and mentor Phil Gramm is leading the field with a #1 ranking, 9 blame rating, and over 49,000 votes.
As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee from 1995 through 2000, Gramm was Washington's outspoken champion of deregulation. And he got it, by playing a lead role in the writing and passage of the 1999 repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which had separated commercial banks from Wall Street. Then he inserted a provision into the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act that exempted derivatives like credit-default swaps from regulation.
Basic facts burn! Second is possibly blind, deaf, and dumb SEC chief Chris Cox, who still might not be sure there was some funny business going on over on Wall Street and he was in charge of a large regulatory organization capable of what we in the business call "doing something". Third is Angelo Mozilo, founder of Countrywide, the genius who first popularized giving exotic mortgages to iffy home buyers. #4 is Joe Cassano, founder of AIG's financial products unit who banked everything on credit-default swaps. Rounding out the top five is Frank Raines CEO of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, I didn't bother reading.

In last place is Burton Jablin the director of programming for Scripps who created Designed to Sell, House Hunters and My House Is Worth What?, Flip That House, Flip This House, Flip A House, Flipping Houses, Flipping House Hunters, Flip Some House, Honey? Some Guys Are Here About A House Flipping, Has This House Been Flipped?, and the Hugh Laurie medical drama House. Clearly this man is a sick individual, but I'm going to put his culpability somewhere ahead of mine and behind everyone who worked in finance, banking, regulation, or our government. Bush is only #16, marking the only time he will be outside of the top 10 in an un-ironic worst list for the next five decades.

So go on over, register your rage, and re-channel it into something productive. Like finding a job or creating working voodoo dolls of all 25 list members.

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