And so we recognize The Big Lie of our time which includes the belief that everyone is responsible for the financial crisis (the government, the rating agencies, the mortgage servicing companies, the lending banks, the regulators, the justice system, etc); therefore, no one is responsible.
Goldman Sachs keeps alive The Big Lie when they say that the company had no fiduciary duty to let investors know about the origin and junk nature of products that they sold because they were selling to "sophisticated investors." Goldman Sachs is accused of misleading Congress which can be considered both a lie and perjury. Goldman Sachs can claim they only made "small bets" against the failure of the mortgage market when, in fact, their bets made them billions of dollars.
Like Scrooge McDuck, Goldman Sachs sees only the multiplujillion dollars that they look forward to earning in the future which are calculated in increments of impossibidillions and obsquatumatillions. (From The Globe and Mail (Nov 12, 2011) re: The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa).
Here is Barry Ritholtz's take on The Big Lie:
What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral
By Barry Ritholtz - The Big Picture and The Washington Post
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One group has been especially vocal about shaping a new narrative of the credit crisis and economic collapse: those whose bad judgment and failed philosophy helped cause the crisis.
Rather than admit the error of their ways — Repent! — these people are engaged in an active campaign to rewrite history. They are not, of course, exonerated in doing so. And beyond that, they damage the process of repairing what was broken. They muddy the waters when it comes to holding guilty parties responsible. They prevent measures from being put into place to prevent another crisis.
Here is the surprising takeaway: They are winning. Thanks to the endless repetition of the Big Lie.
A Big Lie is so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. There are many examples: Claims that Earth is not warming, or that evolution is not the best thesis we have for how humans developed. Those opposed to stimulus spending have gone so far as to claim that the infrastructure of the United States is just fine, Grade A (not D, as the we discussed last month), and needs little repair.
Wall Street has its own version: Its Big Lie is that banks and investment houses are merely victims of the crash. You see, the entire boom and bust was caused by misguided government policies. It was not irresponsible lending or derivative or excess leverage or misguided compensation packages, but rather long-standing housing policies that were at fault.
Indeed, the arguments these folks make fail to withstand even casual scrutiny. But that has not stopped people who should know better from repeating them.
The Big Lie made a surprise appearance Tuesday when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, responding to a question about Occupy Wall Street, stunned observers by exonerating Wall Street: “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp.”
What made his comments so stunning is that he built Bloomberg Data Services on the notion that data are what matter most to investors. The terminals are found on nearly 400,000 trading desks around the world, at a cost of $1,500 a month. (Do the math — that’s over half a billion dollars a month.) Perhaps the fact that Wall Street was the source of his vast wealth biased him. But the key principle of the business that made the mayor a billionaire is that fund managers, economists, researchers and traders should ignore the squishy narrative and, instead, focus on facts. Yet he ignored his own principles to repeat statements he should have known were false.
Why are people trying to rewrite the history of the crisis? Some are simply trying to save face. Interest groups who advocate for deregulation of the finance sector would prefer that deregulation not receive any blame for the crisis.
Some stand to profit from the status quo: Banks present a systemic risk to the economy, and reducing that risk by lowering their leverage and increasing capital requirements also lowers profitability. Others are hired guns, doing the bidding of bosses on Wall Street.
They all suffer cognitive dissonance — the intellectual crisis that occurs when a failed belief system or philosophy is confronted with proof of its implausibility.
And what about those facts? To be clear, no single issue was the cause. Our economy is a complex and intricate system. What caused the crisis? Look:
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5. The Securities and Exchange Commission changed the leverage rules for just five Wall Street banks in 2004. The “Bear Stearns exemption” replaced the 1977 net capitalization rule’s 12-to-1 leverage limit. In its place, it allowed unlimited leverage for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. These banks ramped leverage to 20-, 30-, even 40-to-1. Extreme leverage leaves very little room for error.
6. Wall Street’s compensation system was skewed toward short-term performance. It gives traders lots of upside and none of the downside. This creates incentives to take excessive risks.
7. The demand for higher-yielding paper led Wall Street to begin bundling mortgages. The highest yielding were subprime mortgages. This market was dominated by non-bank originators exempt from most regulations. The Fed could have supervised them, but Greenspan did not.
8. These mortgage originators’ lend-to-sell-to-securitizers model had them holding mortgages for a very short period. This allowed them to get creative with underwriting standards, abdicating traditional lending metrics such as income, credit rating, debt-service history and loan-to-value.
9. “Innovative” mortgage products were developed to reach more subprime borrowers. These include 2/28 adjustable-rate mortgages, interest-only loans, piggy-bank mortgages (simultaneous underlying mortgage and home-equity lines) and the notorious negative amortization loans (borrower’s indebtedness goes up each month). These mortgages defaulted in vastly disproportionate numbers to traditional 30-year fixed mortgages.
10. To keep up with these newfangled originators, traditional banks developed automated underwriting systems. The software was gamed by employees paid on loan volume, not quality.
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The previous Big Lie — the discredited belief that free markets require no adult supervision — is the reason people have created a new false narrative.
Now it’s time for the Big Truth.
Read the entire article here