From Paulson to Wall Street

I guess everybody is as shocked with Paulson’s change of heart…

Instead of the 3 pager proposal to request $700 billion, 1 page for the title, 1 for the thank you and goodbye, and 1 single page with the gravy of the plan; now, he doles out an “I’m not afraid to make changes if the facts change”.

Granted, I think he’s right in trying to get ahead of the curve, or putting the carrot ahead of the cart, or in laymen terms: making the loans available to those who will buy things –making it easier to buy a house or a car.

So, it’s with mixed feelings that we move on. On the one hand, there are still all those derivatives left behind littering the landscape like a mine field, and, on the other hand, the new consumer oriented lending is sure to give some needed traction to the economy.

And you already know that the markets reacted bitterly to the waivering Paulson attitude. If you stop for a minute to think about it, trillions are at stake, and Paulson reads like he’s thinking it out for the first time… I mean, we could’ve had a couple of DC buildings full of well paid geniuses, like they do in the military, working out all the possible economic what if scenarios.

But, we didn’t. Human nature, I guess. High price to pay, though.

Reading here and there, trying to get my bearing on Paulson’s comments, I ran into this fantastic piece by Michael Lewis, which he wrote in his early twenty’s and is self explanatory…

[T]he willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.
I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

Why are we getting half baked plays from the ones we should be getting double chess plays?