Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Brawl Street": Cramer vs.... Stewart

Have you been watching the Jon Stewart showdown with CNBC this week? I confess I don't stay up that late, but I have been recording the episodes and catching them the next day. Like many others, I think, I was surprised to note the serious turn his "Daily Show" took, and particularly by his ability to take a serious topic and raise the serious questions it calls for. Why does it take a comedian to ask the kind of questions the median should have been asking all along?

Jim Cramer, who happened to be chosen to sit in Stewart's hot seat last night and had been the specific target of his attacks throughout the week, held up his end as best he could, with at least a show of humility and regret. The central theme of his defense of CNBC, as I understood it, was that he and others on the channel had been lied to. What he seemed to neither grant, nor particularly to understand, was that it's the media's job to subject what they've been told to some rigorous questioning and analysis, not just accept it on face value. Our current economic catastrophe was caused, surely, in good part, by the failure to ask questions, the failure to put the bland assertions of self-serving executives to the test.

So what self-respecting reporter in any other field would neglect to question the veracity of his or her sources? Sure, those Wall Street folks lied. They lied about everything, in order to maximize their obscene and eventually hollow profits. For years. The real question is this: how were they allowed to get away with their lies for so long, at a time when the media's "experts" had no excuse for not knowing that the nation's financial house was in increasing danger of collapse? We were as ill-served by the media as by our financial moguls; and by the Bush administration, which also lied to them--and through them, to us--with impunity on every front.

Thanks, guys. You have a lot to answer for, and I'm glad that someone is asking the relevant questions--even if it takes a comedian to do the asking.

5 comments:

mandt said...

"when the media's "experts" had no excuse for not knowing that the nation's financial house was in increasing danger of collapse?" They knew, we knew. Many of us have been writing about this collapse for years and it made absolutely no difference, until the weight of its entropy collapsed. That's when we learned that reality of our commercial spectacle trumps truth and unless intervention is forcibly applied the crash is inevitable as is now the case.

citizen of the world said...

I've been watching it at the 8 pm time the next day, so I've not seen the final bit. But I have long admored Jon's ability to be serious when he needs to be.

ErnestO said...

Such world wide untoward dishonesty should be met with a smile.

"I have lived long enough to remember when banks lent the common people money. Today is different now the common people lend the banks money." Unknown

Gary said...

We knew all along that hedge meant bull in the name of insurance for not wanting to know the true value of risk at someone else's expense.

Credit default swaps are illusions painted with the broad brush of greed disguised as a good bet by those who have had a soft ride on the backs of others for too long.

Swap has always been an unsure form of barter where the participants are willing to give up something for grass that appears greener from afar.

We are never sure of a good thing until we loose it.

Obama is doing everything all at once. That is how to paint a picture and save a nation. Mnay in congress are disturbed because they must work as hard as he does and it is not in their nature for the most part. They already have excellent health insurance for life and a steady job so what is it with this guy who wants them to work overtime without extra pay?

The bankers won't lend to my small business for I am a small risk without leverage no matter how consistently I pay my credit bill. We are their tools and horses but we may not ride on their backs.

Time is on our side for the speculators are foolish enough to believe in each other. Working people we know how to scrap and mend with left overs, trust our friends and love our children. I know few wealthy market managers who are not always looking over their shoulder casting an uncertain gaze while counting scalps.

My accountant asked me when doing my taxes,
"Do you want to eat well or sleep well?"
I sleep very well.

I'll bet Bernard is tossing and turning tonight!

I don't think Gorge does much thinking so he probably doesn't have a problem sleeping after having so much practice during the last eight years.

As for regulators I think we know who got a good portion of the first $350,000,000,000 to shut up and go to ground. I have an old trick for flushing out gophers but I won't share it in mixed company for my boys read this blog with me.

Anonymous said...

While I enjoy watching Cramer every night, one must remember the show is primarily entertainment. The financial networks exist to promote their advertisers financial and investment products. Who would expect them to warn about the credit bubble or coming Washington national debt collapse which will destroy much of the remaining private wealth in America today or what this will do to the dollar, the stock market, bonds, gold or the real estate market?

It is ironic that Jon Stewart and a comedy show instead of the regulators or news media had to bring all of this public. Also in Cramers defense he is far less guilty than most of the other financial media for their efforts together with Wall Street, the politicians & incompetent regulators for what has happened.


China is now worried about their dangerous over investment in US Treasury obligations. Washington ’s long-term choice is either repudiation or monetization. For monetization to be effective, the depreciation in the dollar would have to be substantial and this in turn would dramatically raise prices of imports for American consumers which would mean a tremendous drop in foreign imports. Debt monetization would cause more disruption to exporting nations than selective repudiation of Treasury debt.

The Campaign to Cancel the Washington National Debt By 12/22/2013 Constitutional Amendment is starting now in the U.S. See: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=67594690498&ref=ts

Thanks,

Ron with 30 plus years in the investment business and banking industry.