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Sunday, 13 July 2008

So Who's To Blame????

Post "poperty boom", Ireland is now in "property crash" phase, and the country's finances are in dire straits.


But it's not just Ireland going through bad times - there's a lot of turmoil elsewhere like in the US...so who's to blame there????


"Spicing up the blame game with some new contenders...


Now the Dow Jones Indust­rial Average has dip­ped into bear-market terri­tory, it's time to address an important matter: We need new people to blame. The latest trio of popular villains is so unoriginal. Short sellers? Oil speculat­ors? Accounting rulemakers?


Surely we can do better.

After careful study, and some occasional attention to factual detail, I propose a new set of people and things to blame for the market meltdown, around which we all can rally in the shared cause of finger-pointing, sch├Ądenfreude, and the illusion of accountability.

The sole criterion to join my list of Seven Deadly Sinners: they all had to be just as much to blame as short sellers, oil speculators or the Financial Accounting Standards Board. The inductees are:

1 Leona Helmsley
Or, more precisely, Leona Helmsley's dogs. As the New York Times reported on 2 July, the hotel and real- estate magnate, who died last year, instructed that her entire charitable trust, with an estimated value of $5bn to $8bn, be used for the care and welfare of dogs.
Consider the human (and Wall Street) suffering that kind of cash could have been used to alleviate. That's enough money to pay off the outstanding liens on all the foreclosed properties in Los Angeles, providing thous­ands of cute puppies with affordable housing to boot.
For $8bn, her trust could have bought Bear Stearns Cos three times over (with a little help from the Federal Reserve). Or at current prices, it could buy the homebuilders DR Horton Inc, Lennar Corp, Centex Corp and KB Home – yes, all four. And it still would have a few hundred million left to put a can of "filet mignon flavour'' Alpo in every bowl. Best of all, the fact Helmsley is dead means she's virtually libel-proof.


2 Securities lenders
You see, short sellers don't kill companies; borrowed shares kill companies. Some of the biggest securities lenders – Bear Stearns was one – are the same companies that are to blame for the subprime-mortgage debacle.


The way short selling works is you sell a stock you have borrowed from some­one else, in hopes of buying it back later at a lower price and pocketing the differ­ence as profit. All we have to do is keep these stocks out of the hands of investors who don't own them, and our problems will be solved.


The obvious solution, then, is to make it illegal for folks to lend anything they own, of any kind, to anyone else, ever. No exceptions. As with the war on drugs, reducing demand isn't important. What matters is that we eliminate the supply.

3 The weather
It's so easy to blame, compan­ies do it all the time. Last year, when the retail farm-store chain Tractor Supply said its second-quarter earnings had fallen a few pennies short of analysts' estimates, it blamed "unseasonably cool weather in April". Now there's leadership for you.
If one company can blame the weather for its problems, everyone can blame the weather for all the market's problems.


4 Paul Steiger
Fine man, and full disclos­ure: I used to work for him, back when he was manag­ing editor of the Wall Street Journal and I was a report­er there. That said, it's time he got his comeuppance.
One of the little-known perks of being the Journal's top editor is the power to change the component companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on a moment's notice. And in April 2004, Steiger added a doozy: American Inter­national Group. Since then, AIG's stock has lost about two-thirds of its value, which the famously clairvoyant Steiger clearly should have seen coming. So just think how things might be different today if he'd added, say, Mexco Energy instead.


Sure, this little oil comp­any from Texas has only a $43m market capitalisation, which should disqualify it from consider­ation, tech­nic­ally speaking. Just look at those returns, though! The thing is up 212% since AIG got added, and it has gained 515% so far this year.


If only Steiger had juiced the index with the right stocks when he had the chance, and dropped dying geezers like General Motors, we still might be in a raging bull market today.

5 Britney Spears
No particular reason.


6 Alan Greenspan.
Wait, scratch that – he doesn't belong on this list. The housing bubble and resulting credit meltdown really are his fault. So we still need two more.


Six and seven. Take your pick: parents, god, society, Willie Randolph, Fidel Castro, the mafia, the CIA, Charles Darwin, the internet, trolls, Ed McMahon. Whatever you do, though, don't blame me. I'm just calling them like I see them."



Article from the Tribune.ie by Jonathan Weil,a Bloomberg News columnist.

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