The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
Madoff Jailed? Hold the Celebration
Thursday, March 12th, 2009
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  Send a letter to the editor.
As giant headlines shriek his guilt, as the boobesphere division of the blogosphere calls for his evisceration, drawing and quartering, whatever, as crowds with pitchforks and burning torches cheer Ponzi King Bernard Madoff's one way trip to a federal pen, whither his partners in crime? Not his unsavory family, nor his Potemkin village employees or "accountants." Some among them are doubtless criminals too, but petty ones. So, in the end, is Madoff. Oh sure he lost billions of others' money, bankrupted charities and schools, destroyed lives and retirements, triggered at least two suicides. But compared to leveling our entire financial system and bringing the global economy down with it, his crimes are minor. His firm was never anything more than a small-time player in the Wall Street casino. The high rollers had hundreds of times his resources, thousands of times his destructive power. So what's happened to them?

And who are they anyway? Stanford and Madoff may be household names now, but the crooks who gambled away trillions  of dollars of investor wealth and property values and bank deposits are mostly anonymous. Most of them are still in their jobs too. There's Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman. His firm's wild speculations required $5b of emergency capital from Warren Buffet. That got a lot of publicity, and Goldman was congratulated on as usual being shrewder than the pack. Instead of lining up at the federal trough, Goldman partnered with the smartest investor in the world. But just because Goldman is shrewder than its fellow thieves, most of its government bailout money has been laundered through AIG. AIG borrowed tens of billions from the feds, then handed wads of it to Goldman among other investment banks. As usual Bloomberg has the only coverage of the story. Blankfein is still in charge at Goldman, and if his salary this year isn't quite what it has been, he'll get by. He made $54m in 2007 and $74m in 2008.

He's only one among dozens, and Goldman isn't even the biggest thief among thieves. Compared to the official losses racked up at AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehmann Brothers, Citigroup, Merrill, B of  A, Goldman's look puny. The crooks at Countrywide helped lay the foundation for the crisis with mindlessly reckless mortgage lending. Now they're buying the foreclosed mortgages they engineered for pennies on the dollar and reaping huge profits. Business, they report, is "off the charts good."

The list goes on and on. So before we allow the cup of joy to run over at the discomfiture of Bernie Madoff, let us give some thought to the banking and insurance plutocrats who by their all-consuming greed and unfettered larceny have already cost the globe trillions of dollars of wealth on a tab that is just getting started. These "malefactors of great wealth," as Theodore Roosevelt called their lineal antecedents, are not joining Bernie in the Big House. They're lolling back in their own big houses. Unlike Bernie they won't be queuing up for trays of slop washed down with tapwater before stepping out for the daily hour of "fresh" air in the fetid confines of the prison yard. Instead they're sipping ancient brandy and fine champagne, sniffing pine-scented mountain air on pristine ski slopes in Vail and breathing deeply of the scented balmy Caribbean nights.

Is catching a minnow while the sharks feast on our futures anything to celebrate?


©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2009


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A NOTE TO READERS ***Update***
Another three week plus hiatus, from April 30th until May 23rd, again due to Yahoo Geocities dismal service.

There was nothing new at The Nossiter Net between March 3rd and April 26th, 2007, nearly eight weeks.  The reason:  tech sabotage. Yahoo Geocities, the host for this site, denied access for the entire period.  At one point, they even managed to lose all the files.  In many discussions with Yahoo staff, no clear explanation was forthcoming.  No one seemed able to fix the problem.  Ruling out the possibility of Dubbya’s revenge, I finally wrote to Mr. Terry Semel, Chairman and CEO of Yahoo! Inc and described the ordeal the page had undergone since the beginning of March.  A week later, a helpful Yahooo engineer named Jason called.  He had my letter before him.  Though he couldn’t do the repairs on on the spot, he promised a fix by the next day.  That was April 26th, nearly two months after shutting me down in the first place.

The Nossiter Net apologizes, which is more than I can say for Yahoo Geocities.

                              




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