Sunday, May 15, 2011

Justifying Crooked Behavior

CNN had a mini-debate between Matt Taibbi, our generation's greatest journalist, and Megan McArdle (watch it here).

McArdle was recently hired as Atlantic's business and economics editor, meaning she is a former C-list journalist who considers her job to be getting invited to B-list cocktail parties. Which means her journalistic activities consists mostly of trying to ass kiss the people who make out the guest lists. (She will never be A-list, but she's trying.)
In that mini-debate McArdle makes the most coherent, although not at all cogent, defense of Goldman Sachs' crooked behavior. Her argument is that Goldman had every right to misrepresent the fact they were betting against products they were selling because Goldman is not in business to make money for anyone else, just for themselves.

Forgive me for being naive, but I thought an investment banker's job was to help his clients to avoid unsound investments, not deliberately selling shit on the theory that if the client is too stupid to recognize shit he deserves to be taken. Morally and ethically (and legally), bankers have a responsibility to act in good faith in the best interests of their clients and not act as high priced Thimblerigs.

 Still, the fact that businesses, hedge funds, and governments still hire Goldman Sachs even knowing who they are is proof that P. T. Barnum was right and the nation is adding a half-million new suckers every year.

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