Frank Luntz Hasn’t Read 13 Bankers (And That’s A Good Thing)

By Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and The Next Financial Meltdown

Frank Luntz is the midst of making one of the great mistakes of modern American politics.  He seems to have completely missed the change in plot line on financial reform over the past few months – ever since Ted Kaufman waded into the fray, started to bring other key figures with him, and really moved mainstream thinking (as manifest, for example, in the Goldman Sachs hearing this week).

This is about the “arc of the fraud”.  The financial system committed fraud during the boom (liar loans and misrepresentation to customers of all kinds); fraud during the bailout (“if you ruffle our feathers, we will collapse”); and now fraud during the serious attempts at reform (e.g., the astroturf/fake grassroots nonsense.)

Luntz thinks this is about higher costs being passed on to consumers and wants to fight in November on “the Democrats are just about special interests”.  That would be terrific – for the Democrats – and Mr. Luntz should be encouraged in this endeavor.

Mr. Luntz insists that it is not about what you say, but about what you hear.  I couldn’t agree more – this is readily apparent as I travel the country talking to many people about fixing the financial system and what we need to do going forward.

This is what people hear: “fraud”.  They understand that our biggest banks and other financial players have become too big and too powerful.  They know these people need to be reined in and they also realize this is going to be a heck of a fight – most likely over many years.  They understand that Wall Street took over Washington and has run it, in large part, for too long – this is the central point of 13 Bankers; if anything, readers now find this rather obvious.

Some of this fraud will go unpunished, because our legal system fell behind the curve – and because the people at the heart of these frauds are very smart.  But this just means we need to try harder and for longer to reform our system.

Of course we won’t get this all done in this legislative cycle – everyone gets this.  But that is not a message of despair and defeat – it is a call to defiance and determination.

If you think Mr. Luntz can credibly present himself as the defender of us all against narrow special interests, you should be worried.  If instead regard his position as untenable under pressure, do all you can to encourage this approach. 

Just don’t send him a copy of 13 Bankers – we really do not want him to figure out what is going on.

43 responses to “Frank Luntz Hasn’t Read 13 Bankers (And That’s A Good Thing)

  1. There is much Mr. Luntz doesn’t understand.

  2. Transparency, transparency, transparency. People understand that what they don’t know CAN hurt them. If we can get this much mandated, we will go a long way toward the solution, I think.
    The banksters talk about how necessary the derivatives market is, without distinguishing between a basic hedge and a synthetic CDO. That’s like saying all dogs are dogs; but a Chihuahua may only nip your ankles, the pit bull can rip out your throat.

  3. I don’t know, Simon. You may be an optimist after all. If I had to bet between Lutz vs the Democrats on who will win a political fight, I’d have to go with Lutz every time.

    Republicans have been playing the populist card even as they shovel the country’s wealth upward for more than a generation now. It’s worked for them so far and, when all I have on my side are the spineless and craven Democrats, well, it just doesn’t seem like a fair fight.

  4. Amen. And when you give up your gun(Dodd’s/Dems corruption) before you go into the bar, you’re gonna need the 4 by 6.

  5. My sense is that Luntz doesn’t care that much about the policy implications. He’s looking for a way to make money in the near-term for himself and secondarily to get Republicans elected in the near-term.

    The opposition isn’t based on any deeply held belief. He’s simply looking for an argument that he thinks is persuasive to his target audiences — not necessarily one that is true.

  6. Never heard of Frank Luntz (so that should help).

    Notable lines from “13 Bankers” so far: Intro (p6) “So long as the political establishment remained captive to the idea….” Chapt 1 (p27), second half of the second paragraph–“The details of the planned system…” Chapt 2 (p47) lines 9-10 “…they allowed a small group of….” and (p53, 2nd paragraph) although I would clearly argue with the word “cherishes”. Chapt 3 – 7 (tbd). Yours and James article linked to The American Prospect “Too Big for Us to Fail” still somewhat enlightening but doesn’t quite have the impact of “The Quiet Coup” from the Atlantic publication (whenever critics describe in their review a piece of writing as “controversial” they really mean to say they don’t necessarily agree with your analysis and interpretation, and perhaps don’t like being ‘challenged’ on the economic order of things, either.)

    And, yes to the above question.

  7. I’m encouraged at how more and more people are coming around to how the actual mechanisms and technical legalities according to rigged laws aren’t the real story here, how it’s very simply:

    Crime, theft, con, swindle, fraud.

  8. The level of political cynicism Luntz brings to the table is quite damaging to our polity, but he chooses not to “hear” such! All he seems to hear is the chaching of his profitable short term gains!

  9. While it may be fun to watch elected officials try to justify defending a status quo that allows the oligarchy to covertly steal from the American public, rather than allowing them to steal overtly, it really is not possible to overestimate that same public’s willingness to aggressively pursue an agenda contrary to their own economic wellbeing. Such is the thesis of Thomas Frank.

  10. Stick to economics, Simon. “One of the great mistakes of modern American politics”? Framing the issue in terms of special interests would be “terrific” for the Democrats? Electoral politics are not nearly this simple or predictable.

  11. readerOfTeaLeaves

    I agree. I’m among those who wouldn’t have believed, even 2 years ago, that I’d be reading (let alone commenting) on an econ blog.

    I’m increasingly convinced those Goldman Sachs hearings were a ‘game changer’, and not simply because Sen Levin quoted repeatedly from emails about ‘sh**ty deals’. It was because the GS view of all economic activity as ‘market making’ released them from having to make any moral judgments, or consider their activities in any moral or ethical light whatsoever.

    If the GS employees had walked into that hearing room intending to sink their company, they could not have done a finer job of it. And that’s after the WaMu revelations of two weeks ago, which came the same week that the SEC charged GS.

    It’s not simply a ‘drip, drip, drip.’
    At this point, it’s more like thunderous roar after thunderous roar.

    Frank Luntz is going to get smashed like a bug on a political windshield if he keeps this up (which I heartily hope that he does).

  12. I agree. And therefore we need to make a paradigm shift in regards to our perception of the perpetrators of crime. Ever since pirates and other hoodlums set foot on Manhattan island, the place has been infested with thugs of all stripes.
    ALL WALKS OF LIFE.

    What has been dug up by Matt Tiabbi, Simon Johnson, James Kwak a.o. is the real cause of war and misery. Apparently, bankers and politicians play the lead role.

    Yes, we knew this allready… but not in such detail.

  13. Opponents of these policies need stronger arguments and more effective organization, drawing together the broad spectrum of Americans and indeed world citizens who are adversely effected by these policies.

    To do this:

    1. The enormous cost of these policies must be demonstrated and emphasized in simple and clear terms. The problem needs to be phrased in terms of people’s pocketbooks, their take home pay, their savings and retirement funds, and the profits of the many small and medium sized businesses suffering from these policies. For example,

    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/too-big-to-fail-subsidy/

    There have been efforts in this direction such as Joseph Stiglitz’s recent book Free Fall, some of Simon Johnson’s articles, and so forth, but more, more effective and more concise statements are needed. The murky system of implicit and explicit government guarantees, shadow bailouts using the Federal Reserve, Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and so forth needs to be effectively exposed. This is a shell game, like three card Monty on a trillion dollar scale, designed to confuse and distract most Americans.

    Something very specific that the Baseline Scenario, its readers, blog posters, and others at other organizations and blogs could do is pool all of the information on the bailouts and subsidies in a single on-line database, something along the lines of Wikipedia or one of the History Common projects. The giant banks have such resources and armies of highly paid financial experts to create a complex bewildering smokescreen of transactions to hide the true nature, size, and scope of the subsidies, that individuals, even experts like Simon Johnson and Dean Baker simply can’t keep up with the shifting tactics. By pooling people’s efforts and expertise, one could build an easy to read and comprehensive database of the scheme: combining information on the murky Federal Reserve programs, the Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, as well as the numerous murky “private” CDO and other mortgage backed securities deals. This would provide powerful backup information for more brief “sound bite” explanations of the problem for the general public or transient blog posts.

    At a more technical level, it may be possible to create and distribute open source software to properly value the questionable securities, using historical financial data on default rates and so forth, to counter the dubious valuations based on the pseudo-scientific models used by the banks. This would also help put a dollar value on the size of the problem; probably somewhere between $500 billion and several trillion dollars in as yet urealized losses for someone (read the taxpayer).

    Yes, emphasizing the role of fraud in the crisis and ongoing problem is good, but there is fraud in many places and activities. It must be made crystal clear the enormous cost of this fraud as well as policies and activities that are not fraud or illegal under the current relaxed laws and regulations.

    2. The use of terms like “investment”, “growth”, “innovation”, and “research and development” to promote and defend these policies needs to be aggressively confronted and debunked. It needs to be made clear that the trillions of dollars spent on housing in the 00’s and goofy telecom and Internet schemes in the 90’s represents trillions of dollars not spent on critical human needs such as energy production, more efficient energy systems, transportation, and so forth. We see the consequences of this in rising energy prices and a declining standard of living. Yet another bubble, whether involving investments in China or blinking gadgets here at home, would represent further disastrous diversion of trillions of dollars from productive activities.

    In this era of high and rising energy prices, I would juxtapose the demonstrably poor progresss in power and propulsion technologies since about 1970 with the rhetoric of growth and selective financial deregulation. Most of our standard of living can be traced to the huge improvements in power and propulsion technologies since about 1775. Where are the flying cars? Electricity too cheap to meter?

    3. The framing of the problem as one of “deregulation” versus “regulation”, the “free market” versus the “government” needs to be rebutted and avoided. Quite clearly, these are policies of huge government subsidies to a few giant politically connected banks. The fact that these banks have stockholders and the executives are not civil servants (they are in fact paid far more than civil servants and subject to less strict rules) does not mean they are not intimately connected with the government. It is certainly true the policies have been and continue to be promoted with labels such as “free market”, “deregulation”, “private sector” and so forth, but the reality is otherwise. Many businesses and people outside of a small and shrinking charmed circle are suffering from these policies, but are misled by the “free market” rhetoric. The implicit and explicit claims by the banks to represent the “free market” or “private sector” should be aggressively challenged and debunked; they are almost laughably absurd at this point.

    4. The long standing tactic of blaming the failure of policies labeled as “free market” and similar terms (emphasis on labeled), with the failure then used to promote further policies labeled as “free market” or “deregulation”, on the government should be recognized and aggressively countered. Blaming the government for fiascos that follow policies labeled as “free market” is not unusual. It happened after the Savings and Loan fiasco of the 1980’s, the Internet bubble, the Great Depression, the California electricity market “deregulation” fiasco of 2000, and a number of other cases. Rather, this long history of “crying wolf” should be pointed out simply and clearly, that the purported “free market” policies are frequently selective deregulation combined with increases in government subsidies for politically connected firms, and once again that the aggresive use of labels such as “free market” does not mean the policy actually is “free market”. Certainly not in the case of the current Too Big to Fail policies nor the sharp increase in FSLIC guarantees during the Savings and Loan “deregulation” of the 1980’s.

    Again, it would probably be useful to create an on-line database along the lines of Wikipedia or a History Commons project outlining the long sad history of this tactic. Some database entries:

    The Great Depression

    Milton Friedman and Anna Schwarz, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960

    Alan Reynolds article “What Do We Know About the Great Crash” in the November 9, 1979 of the conservative
    National Review

    FDR’s Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression
    by Jim Powell (Random House, September 2004)

    New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America
    by Burton W. Folsom Jr.

    Savings and Loans (1980’s)

    A clear example of this is “Lessons from the Savings and Loan Debacle: The Case for Further Financial Deregulation” by Catherine England (Regulation: The Cato Review of Business & Government, Summer 1992, The Cato Institute).

    Internet and Telecom Bubble (1990’s)

    When the Internet and telecom stocks and businesses crashed, conservative author and stock-picker George Gilder blamed the government, most notably in a
    Wall Street Journal
    commentary published on August 6, 2001 titled “Tumbling into the Telechasm”. Here is a brief excerpt.

    “The Bush economy, unfortunately, not only possesses no such immunity to bad policy, but also is gravely vulnerable to policy mistakes accumulating by the end of the Clinton term. A high-tech depression is under way, driven by a long siege of deflationary monetary policy and obtuse regulation that has shriveled hundreds of debt-laden telecom companies and brought Internet expansion to a halt.”

    California Electricity Market Deregulation Fiasco (2000)

    Here is an example from conservative OpEd write Walter Williams May 23, 2001 syndicated article “Orchestrating Energy Disaster”:

    ONE needn’t be a rocket scientist to create California’s energy problems. According to the California Energy Commission, from 1996 to 1999 electricity demand, stimulated by a booming economy, grew by 12 percent while supply grew by less than 2 percent. Here’s how California created its supply crunch. It takes two years to build a power plant in business-friendly states but four years in California. Sunlaw Energy Company wants to build a $256 million natural-gas-fired plant in Los Angeles; community activists are stopping it. San Francisco activists killed a proposal to float an electricity-producing barge in the bay, even as the city faced blackouts. Computer software giant Cisco Systems has led the charge against a proposed Silicon Valley power plant.

    Drawing a clear distinction between the present policies fraudulently promoted as “free market” or “deregulation” and actual “free market” or “deregulation” policies will enable opponents of these policies to reach out to private citizens, businesses, and organization across the political spectrum, all of whom are suffering greatly from these policies.

    Sincerely,

    John

  14. Luntz job is not to present reasoned analyses, it is to manipulate people emotionally. It is almost certainly true that the people Johnson is in contact with see through those manipulations. The question is are they representative of the electorate at large. I hope that they are, but given my experience in the American educational system, where critical thinking is largely discouraged (except in students where it is bound to develop anyway), I suspect that they are not.

  15. I could fill all the cargo space in the entire 6th Fleet with what Mr. Luntz doesn’t understand.

  16. Do you want reform, or do you want an election issue? If the latter, is your best case scenario to get more Ted Kaufmans or more Chris Dodds? The average American has no reason to know who Frank Luntz is, let alone care. This blog (and the book) have made a strong case for reform, but I think you risk spending your credibility at the wrong store.

  17. Lagamorphile

    I agree. To wit, just look at the many comments in this blog from individuals who are clearly partisan. Dems and Reps are two sides of the same coin. GS’s influence in DC has been going strong (maybe even stronger) under Dem administrations too. It is a leader who will drive reform – which ever party s/he represents.

  18. This is so painfully true, particularly of republican voters. They vote the party line without question or doubt. It’s so incredibly painful to hear them espouse ill-informed rhetoric as their own thoughts, when clearly they just pick up whatever tripe spews forth from the party as though it were their own. It’s so often full of vitriol and hate for any dissenting views as well.

    I know clearly that both parties running this country are corrupt to the core, but the venomous modern right and their brainwashed followers make me weep with their unquestioning loyalty to the hateful messages from people who will kill and eat their own supporters if it means re-election.

  19. Re: @ Anonynous____If you (we) had other alternatives, unfortunately we don’t – I’d choose the lesser of two evils – that being the more amiable histrionic “Democrats”. PS. The founding fathers realized that a strong economy was monumental for a Democracy to survive. It’s imposible to take the politics out of the economy ,or take the economy out of the politics. Simply said, its what I call, “The Symbiotic Syndrome”. PS. I just called up to find what condition you were in,…

  20. Sure, the Luntz post has a pretty narrow viewpoint, but the pro-Wall Street reform leaders are making a mistake that is similar to what was done during the health care reform debate — they are not properly framing the problem for the average Spam-eating American to grasp.

    Many Americans still do not make the connection between derivatives and their daily lives. All they know is that they are experiencing hard times right now. This makes them ripe for scare tactics like the threat of “higher prices” and “evil government takeovers.”

    The folks who oppose reform are aware of the disconnect with voters. This is why the latest attack on Wall Street reform will be in the form of a flawed message that says “Reform will kill small business.”

    And financially battered voters who are currently living in fear will fall for it.

    President Obama is trying create simple messages for reform but he needs some help…

    song currently stuck in my head: “milestones (live at the plugged nickel)” – miles davis quintet

  21. I don’t know what that intro music is on your link, Duke Ellington?? Sounds a little like Herbie Hancock. What ever it is it’s F-ing awesome. How about “A Love Supreme” By John Coltrane?? That song will freaking stick in your head.

  22. Frank is just a guy who plays to the choir. The BANKSTERS sold us all out:

    http://americaspeaksink.com/2010/04/bankster-gangster/comment-page-1/#comment-6061

  23. Andrei Vyshinsky

    “But this just means we need to try harder and for longer to reform our system.”

    No, Simon, over here: The system isn’t capable of reform, its simply too corrupt. And don’t cheer too loudly for the Democrats, they’re just as corrupt, if not more so, as are the Republicans. We’ve really got to get you out of that beltway mindset you bring to your commentary. Maybe its the TV appearances with Quack or the need to sell the book, but this drivel makes you sound like the most pedestrian ruling class synchophant out there. No one’s going to stop the whores in Congress and the White House from taking bribes from lobbyists and doing their bidding. Explain, please, how you’re going to get that to happen. You’re getting all too close to the fetid sewer that is the system and you’re beginning to carry its odor. Go take a bath and organize a strike somewhere.

  24. If all the Democrats, including Obama, have taken millions of dollars from Goldman Sachs how can we really expect an honest attempt at real reform from them? Hasn’t the well been poisoned, Simon? I mean, isn’t this the very definition of a conflict of interest? I’ve read your book. These hearings seem like nothing more than political theater to me. A quick explanation please. How do you square the Democrats accepting donations (bribes) from G-S while pretending outrage and writing reform. Something seems not quite right here.

  25. Simon – have you ever had a conversation with Martin Wolf about the financial crisis and how much fraud was involved? I had an exchange with him about a year ago and he was adamant that fraud didnt have anything to do with it. I basically told him that he was wrong and that in time it will be obvious, and that he wasn’t seeing it because he didnt want to. I wonder if you know if he has changed his view on this. I think he does very thoughtful work in terms of macro analysis, but I think he is too institutionalized to understand how broken the system is.

    He wrote at the time : “…do these weaknesses make the US into Russia? No. In many emerging economies corruption is egregious and overt. In the US, influence comes as much from a system of beliefs as from lobbying (although the latter was not absent). What was good for Wall Street was deemed good for the world. The result was a bipartisan programme of ill-designed deregulation for the US and, given its influence, the world.”

    I had countered that it was a dismissal of regulations, innovation through loopholes and especially willful ignorance and collusion (see ratings agencies) that essentially formed the corruption. He got quite pissy about this as if it were some personal offense to his belief in capitalism as wonderful and virtuous. So I stopped writing to him seeing that he was hopelessly captured.

    I hope he has changed, because we could use his voice to add to the growing chorus of outrage against these people.

  26. I couldn’t agree more. He’s a huckster to the bone. We can hope that the Republicans fall out of love with him. I think his recent efforts re: financial reform have caused some to reconsider the wisdom of his approach.

  27. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Oh, just to be clear: I don’t think that all banks, or all bankers, or even all Manhattan bankers are ‘bad’ or thuggish.

    I think that these people are very good with numbers, but emotionally deadened to their role and obligations to the society on which they depend.

    Too Big To Fail is dangerous — partly because it appears to have protected these narcissists from any need for self-examination. But also because, like any behomoth, it is inefficient.

    The feedback loops that a bank with relationships to its customers needs in order to maintain a viable business do not appear to have existed for these ‘market makers’.

    The Goldman Sachs hearings made it abundantly clear that these TBTF banks are too big to be competent, too big to examine their obligation to society, and too big to question what they should owe their own customers.

    It revealed a deep, terrible human tragedy.

  28. I agree.

  29. Brad Thrasher

    Frank Luntz is brilliant and dangerous. Underestimate him at your peril.

    Back about 1842 Alexis de Toqueville observed, “The great American experiment in democracy will work so long until the people find out they can raid the Treasury.”

    The bankers studied de Toqueville well.

    Luntz will keep the noise machine humming by highlighting the Dems inability to govern.

    Meanwhile these Obama led Dems will keep their focus on bipartisanship instead of governing.

    Simon Johnson is right that the fight is not over. Sadly, under our system, the fight is perpetual and eternal.

    ‘Scuse me, the neighbors are water boarding an illegal alien and that quick financial reform will be off the front page and forgotten.

  30. Mr. Simon Johnson wrote:

    “They know these people need to be reined in and they also realize this is going to be a heck of a fight – most likely over many years. They understand that Wall Street took over Washington and has run it, in large part, for too long – this is the central point of 13 Bankers; if anything, readers now find this rather obvious.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amen

  31. Andrei Vyshinsky

    Trust me, you’ll get the same blindness about this corruption-with-a-D from big sis, Elizabeth Warren as from Simon. They just can’t think outside the box. The only possibilties for them are system possibilities and since its the system that’s broken, their remedies are illusions.

  32. I suppose the bigger picture of humanity’s unwillingness to live within its means and at peace with itself is a tragedy.

    But this specific part of it is no classical tragedy, but simple gutter crime.

    I’m just wondering if you search for such extenuations or even exonerations for all sorts of organized crime and politicized organized crime.

    Or if not, what’s the reason for making an exception in this case? Is it nothing more than the acculturation that Wall Street is somehow supposed to be more “respectable”?

    In terms of their being organized thieves and swindlers, I don’t distinguish them at all from gangs like the Mafia or the Columbian cartels, or from political gangs like the fascist parties or juntas who were able to legalize their crimes.

  33. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t send Frank Luntz a copy of anything, but he’s not interested. I think much like Sarah Palin. He (and she) is not interested in what is happening in real life. It’s all too obvious (based on the talking points to his congressional colleagues — I use the term colleague in the political sense only) that he doesn’t actually care, mostly because he knows that he can count on Rush, Shawn, Bill, and other of the right wing wingnuts, to beef up his points endlessly for those who prefer fiction and outrage over fact (this is, unfortunately, a very larger percentage of the electorate, enough to make a difference in the coming off-year elections). So, Obama is doing the right thing by attempting to mobilize the necessary forces to counteract the Luntz Effect.

    I might even go so far as to say that Luntz, unlike Palin, is actually, and unfortunately, quite bright, and I would guess that while he may not have read 13 Bankers, he has associate who have and have informed him of its “dangerous” content. Once again, I really think that he thinks that the book won’t affect what he is trying to do — which is to sow confusion and get those willing to believe to think that the Republicans are fighting against another ill structured “reform” comparable to the health care debacle. And, sadly, it is possible that he will succeed, since many who favor Wall Street reform don’t understand enough to be opposed to Republican views on it.

  34. Emperor Has No Clothes

    So, why is a Republican pollster being villified, when the top 3 recipients of Goldman Sachs cash are Sen Reid, Sen Dodd and Sen Schume? The Wall Street crowd is in the tank for Dems (not surprising since they are currently the majority.)

    Let the Wall Street their bonuses, but when they’re on the wrong side, not one damn penny for bailout. Let AIG, Citi, Lehman, Merrill etc fail. Who gave these firms the right immortality?

  35. @Russ

    Indeed. Sophisticated “White Collar” crime is no different than the Mafia, or Columbian cartels, it’s just packaged differently.

  36. Hedge funds commited the biggest insurance fraud by other means in history (via CDS). Leading banks were their willing helpers, structuring the deals.

    Bank CEOs were paid compensation as if they owned the company which emplyed them. I call this asymetrical capitalism, people claiming entrepreneur compensation without bearing entrepreneur risk. As a result political amounts of money have changed hands and accumulated.

    Crassus is alive. It’s the Roman Empire and the Triumvirate all over.

  37. @John

    Many voters have no idea what they have done to themselves by electing policy makers with destructive mind sets, based on delusional constructs.

    Pain is usually a good motivator to effect change, and voters don’t seem to be in enough of it. My hope is that they aren’t all masochists.

  38. It’s the dogma of partisan politics. Bush debt bad. Obama debt good! As Simon’s book clearly shows the Democrats took the money and now want to pretend otherwise. Their lapdogs in the mainstream media play along and their mindless followers blindly follow. Even reading the book their minds stay shut to any hint of misconduct by those pretending to “reform” the financial system. Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, et al should not be anywhere near this legislation for it to have any real chance at reform. They should recuse themselves for conflict of interest.

  39. Sorry,…to vague. Was meant to be labelled as, “The Symbiotic Junta Syndrome” .

  40. They are the “Mafia”…Please tell me how the machinations of global finance in the 21st century differ?
    First, a captive market that can’t get enough “product”, (coke heads/greed heads).
    Second, political structures that, for a ridiculously low fee, clear the road for distribution.
    Lastly, monopolization, at best, and cartel formation at worst.
    The models are interchangeable.

  41. bob goodwin

    I agree that the bankers need to be reigned in, and also agree with you that the Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue. I do not agree that it is a good thing that the Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue.

  42. I also agree that the Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue. It is also clear the the Democrats are on the wrong side of this issue. The implication of Simon’s post is that it is more likely that the Democrats will change to the right side of this issue than the Republicans. If you disagree with that, as I do, then you should want Luntz to change his rhetoric and get on the right side of the issue, where fiscal conservatives belong.

  43. John, the public gets it one small step at a time. Paul Krugman only recently, a few weeks ago used the ‘fraud’ word at about the same time the SEC suggested DoJ look into fraud at Goldman Sachs.

    Meanwhile concentrated finance and corporate interests that also own most news distribution outlets, radio and TV use the likes of Frank Lutz to control ‘the people’ by confusing them in the best tradition of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister.

    After all, Wall Street has come up with all kinds of language intended to complicate things. Take securitization for instance they claim is too complicated and involves only sophisticated investors.

    Well home mortgage holders aren’t being compensated for the risks in those packages. But their names are on the paper without their authorization. They have no knowledge of how much of their legal rights have been fraudulently usurped by investment bankers when they sign those papers.

    How about just for starters explaining that one example of securitization is the process of bundling thousands of residential home mortgages with ratings ranging from AAA down to ‘no doc liars loans’ into one multi billion dollar unregulated package so that a few can rake in $billions at the expense of consumers..