How was your weekend? Hey! Guess who cares; no one. Fucking End Times came while you were drinking green beer or whatever, to the point that I shouldn't have to bait you with the fact that the McGreeveys HAD HARD CORE INTENSE BUTT SEX ORGIES WITH MARGARITAS/ POTATO SKIN PLATTERS AT T.G.I.FRIDAYS. But there I go baiting you! Okay, seriously though: did you know today is not St. Patrick's Day? No, the Vatican foresaw that everyone would be drinking heavily anyway today and rescheduled it so it wouldn't conflict with the collapse of the American financial system/China's control over its populace/numerous buildings. In other news, John McCain is taking some soothing R&R in Iraq. Will Spielberg and the Beastie Boys and the rest of the "Dalai clique" spoil the Olympics for China? Will the Fed bail me out in the event of a liquidity crisis in approx four weeks? Why can't I get in on Bear Stearns at two bucks a share? All that and odds on Laura Bush dropping her cookie sheet to call up Hu Jintao on behalf of her precious hot monks with me and Glamocracy's Megan Carpentier. JUMP.
MOE: Hey hi what's up shit is pretty fucked huh.
MEGAN: It makes me a little glad I never leave my house. Hooray for blogoraphobia.
MOE: Okay, first things first: there are violent protests in Tibet, and China has to quell them in a way that doesn't make Stephen Spielberg look good, and now the protests have spread to other provinces.
Tibet has long been a pretty sweet separatist province to have, what with the exiled leader advocating nonviolence and spending most of his time with Beastie Boys etc. etc.
MEGAN: And getting to meet practically every head of state in the world, albeit unofficially...
Except for, obviously, those countries in Africa rapidly becoming Chinese client states.
MOE: China has a whole other separatist province called Xinjiang and no one pays attention to those guys. Because they're angry Muslims. Hey Sudanese Islamofascists? How's about some CONSISTENCY??
MEGAN: Wait, didn't we care about that for like 2 seconds last week when Al Qaeda did a video of training there? I didn't realize that we'd forgotten to care about that.
MOE: Hey, look, a story about a recent thwarted hijacking attempt by a Uighur Al Qaeda girlbomber! I think the Chinese government thinks you should care again.
MEGAN: Oh, thanks nameless Chinese
Anyway, so, how soon until they start beating monks in the streets and we issue some sort of vague milquetoast protest about it that in no way compares to our reaction to the monk beatings in Myanmar? Or did I blink and miss it?
MOE: Oooooh, think Laura Bush drop her cookie sheet again and get on the phone with Hu Jintao?
MEGAN: Maybe she could send him cookies? I'll bet some chocolate chip ones could go a long way toward repairing US-China relations
Yikes, that disappeared.
MOE: Okay yeah so, it's very tricky what is happening with Tibet, but either way, it led to an incredibly cerebral discussion of Bjork on the comments over the weekend, did you see? My father was impressed with Bjork's timing on that one, but perhaps if he knew Bjork's tears cure cancer (too bad she never cries) he wouldn't be so surprised. Interestingly, this week Taiwan is holding elections, and he's headed out there. Taiwan is interesting because, you know, they really have it best, as "splittist" provinces go. Elections, democracy, a decent standard of living, no painful shared history of, like, cannibalism or Cultural Revolution or any such thing. The pro-China Kuomintang party is supposed to win though.
MEGAN: Interesting. Wait, now, Taiwan's pro-China even though China considers them a rogue provice? Taiwanese politics are so hard to understand. Is it possible that China's financing the Kuomintang or something
MOE: hahahaha well China's financing the entire economy, sort of like ours. The thing is that the Kuomintang came from mainland China and fled to Taiwan, with numerous palace treasures and such, in 1949. There they found a happy population of ethnic Chinese who spoke another dialect and also, Japanese because the Japanese colonized it, and proceeded to pretty much subjugate them until the seventies, when a democracy movement began burgeoning and our relations with the mainland made it a lot easier for Jimmy Carter to pressure the Kuomintang to treat the "ethnic Taiwanese" better. Somewhere in there Chiang Kai-shek died, his much nicer son Chiang Chingguo took over, and a kind of slow, steady democratization took hold. The thing is that most Chinese, no matter what dialect they speak, are pretty pragmatic and rational and no one wants war with China, but while they have us around a lot of them also don't feel like taking shit from China. On the other hand, of course, Taiwanese control most of the factories in China. It's complicated.
MEGAN: [Awkward segue alert] As complicated at Dina Mattos McGreevey's sex life?
MOE: Hey, good call. That conversation was certainly venturing into prurient and meaningless territory so I'm glad we can now focus our attention on The McGreevey-driver threesomes. I think my favorite part is that they were described as "intense" "hard-core consensual sex orgies".That sounds so...cardio! It's a good thing too I guess if they all started with get-togethers at T.G.I.Fridays.
MEGAN: Like, taking a date to TGI Fridays is so Jersey and let us not pretend that it is not because it is. Also, their intense 3-way orgies (which, can an orgy really only involve 3 people?) always involved one of the guys jacking off while one of them fucked Dina.
But what's sort of really interesting to me is that in earlier publications, he's said not to have started working for McGreevey until 2000, which throws off his timeline I think, and that Dina's divorce lawyer wants financial records about financial records and correspondence with McGreevey's rich boyfriend. Also, apparently, they're due in court soon to litigate over the money McGreevey is hiding from Matos so that he doesn't have to pay as much in child support and alimony. Fucker. Like, aren't gay men supposed to be the good ones?
MOE: Um yeah they shared a room at the TRUMP PLAZA in Atlantic City. Here is what I have to say about that; okay, there is a hotel room shortage in Atlantic City, sure. But if if you are the governor you get the "casino" rate and that is seventy bucks. "It became almost laughable — I would never have my own hotel room," Pedersen said. Okay, so a few things: what does this mean about Silda Spitzer? How long has the New York Post been sitting on this story just waiting for everyone to remember that they once for a brief moment cared about Dina Matos McGreevey?
MEGAN: I'm personally hoping that Silda's sunning herself on a beach somewhere foreign and being served tropical alcoholic beverages by inappropriately young but attractive cabana boys.
And that she and Eliot didn't fuck around with 3rd parties because it's one thing imagining Gay McGreevey jerking off and another entirely grosser thing to have to picture Eliot Spitzer in a wide variety of sexual situations
Excuse my while I go wash my brain out with bleach. Maybe you could talk about the financial markets and i'll try to think of something to say that makes it sound like my summer interning for the Bank of New York wasn't a complete waste of time for everyone involved?
MOE: Okay, well, the government is going to have to print money to bail out the banks because they made the financial instruments so complicated no one has a fucking clue how much, if anything, they're worth, and everything is so interconnected that it could all collapse like in the Asian Financial Crisis unless the Fed steps in and offers a quarter trillion dollars to save it. Or something.
Here it is explained by someone named Dave Wilson who is on some email list that my ex-boyfriend is on.
There's currently a kind of cascade failure happening throughout the financial community, spurred
both by extraordinary levels of borrowed money that was used to speculate (it's like those mortgages that were issued for 110% of the value of the house, except that type of "investment" has, unbeknownst to most people, actually been taking place in pretty much every investment sphere you can think of); if those speculative investments go South, investors have to come up with lots of cash, fast, (this is known as a margin call) meaning they wind up selling everything they own to raise cash, which then depresses the value of the stuff the investors had to sell (as well as similar stuff owned by others) since suddenly there's a lack of scarcity combined with a suspicion on the part of would-be buyers that perhaps this stuff is being dumped for reasons other than a need for quick cash...
Debt. It makes the world go round! Until it doesn't.
MEGAN: Oh, dammit! But it makes my world go 'round?
MOE: Really though, we should probably break this down. starting with Bear Stearns.
MEGAN: Anyway, also, your favorite former Treasury secretary-turned-Citibank-chair serves at a whipping boy for WaPo columnist James Grant, if you didn't see it
Last fall, the former Treasury secretary confessed to Fortune magazine that until the mortgage storms broke over his head in the summer of 2007, he was unfamiliar with the kinds of complex mortgage structures with which Citi's own balance sheet was packed. Almost certainly, the gulf between competence and compensation on Wall Street has never been wider.
MOE: Holy shit. And people think Goldman was so fucking smart for staying out of this shit.
Certainly you're not suggesting incompetence was pothead bridge champion Jimmy Cayne's problem...
MEGAN: I thought you're like that. It's basically like, hello? We've been paying people untold billions who have no clue about what they're doing but they're famous! So they must be worth it! They make investors feel warm and happy, sort of like moviegoers and Meg Ryan in romcoms.
MOE: What I love is people who are afraid to discuss this stuff because they don't understand the math. Bad news everybody, NO ONE UNDERSTANDS THE MATH. The hedgies that shorted this market and the spreadsheets understand the math. And deep down within our rational selves, we all understand the only important thing to understand about the math, which is that the people making these decisions, taking these risks, are not really taking the risks or making the decisions themselves, or on behalf of anything palpable, but on behalf of a bunch of spreadsheets. Even now, no one knows anything beyond the notion of "some day my liquidity will come"
MEGAN: Liquidity is like death, only less permanent.
MOE: It's important to note here that Bear Stearns was notably not a participant in the $3 billion bailout of Long Term Capital Management. Bear Stearns, whose bailout is requiring the Fed to guarantee ten times that in liquidity.
MEGAN: Lovely. Will the Fed later also back my bad investments? Because I have some stock that's in the shitter and my 401K is losing value.
MOE: If you don't feel sufficiently outraged — I always have trouble at this time of the morning — Gretchen Morgenson has it about right.
"Why not set an example of Bear Stearns, the guys who have this record of dog-eat-dog, we're brass knuckles, we're tough?" asked William A. Fleckenstein, president of Fleckenstein Capital in Issaquah, Wash., and co-author with Fred Sheehan of "Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve." "This is the perfect time to set an example, but they are not interested in setting an example. We are Bailout Nation."
MEGAN: We are! All debt, no consequences! Shop 'til you drop! Declare bankruptcy! Lather, rinse and repeat in 7 years!
MOE: Oh fuck and look at the time. We haven't even gotten to discuss that other big collapse and/or John McCain in Iraq is on A15.
MEGAN: He needs every vote, Moe. And since his surge is totally working and stuff, it's more likely that the majority of those soldiers will survive until November to be able to do so. I mean, not as many as would if we weren't in Iraq and surging, but, you know, odds are odds. We go to the elections with the voters we have and not the voters we want.
MOE: Krugman today — I never read Krugman but — is chalking it up to my favorite "false idols" problem. Belief that prices "would only go up" and that "a Triple-A rating means triple-A" and that "the market is always right." Here is my fucking question: just where did anyone get off believing this shit? Is everyone calling the shots on Wall Street now, like, 23 years old? Just how many catastrophic bubbles am I going to have to watch in my lifetime? Whatever.
MEGAN: We're totally an optimistic country, or stupidly insistently forward-looking and unwilling to learn from "other people's" mistakes so I'm gonna say we'll see at least 15 more in our lifetime, maybe more.