Some days I see something that is so outrageous, so beyond the pale, so disgusting, that I am ashamed to be a member of the species Homo sapiens. As the Empire goes down the toilet, this happens more and more often. Today is one of those days.
Henry— ...you've seen two huge bubbles and collapses and everything else ... in my opinion ... these [bubbles] are going to be with us forever. It doesn't matter what you reform. It's just the way the economy behaves.
Money Honey— Well, first of all let's talk about boom-bust economies, because I don't think there's anything wrong with a boom-bust economy, frankly. What's wrong with a boom-bust economy? Things are booming and then you get a bust, and it opens the door for wealth creation. Boom-bust economies open the door for new entrants and new people to have access to something to something that otherwise they would not have. So that's my feeling about boom-bust economies. Having said that ... [yeah, we've seen some bubbles but] we live in a society where we're an optimistic group. We're an optimistic bunch where we see things going well, we see money going into a particular segment, and we think its going to continue. [Then talks briefly about the housing bubble in Phoenix, the oil price and finally ends up warning investors about following the herd.]
Well, well, well. I'm going to keep my remarks brief, because I will let Arianna Huffington respond below. First, the bust opens the door for new entrants. Who are these new players? I assume Maria is talking about hedge funds, because she's certainly not referring to the 80% of the people in this country who own a paltry 15% of the wealth, or the people who lost their job or their wealth or their house or all of these during the bust.
And second, after a Mass Extinction event, analogous to the economic calamity we're going through, many opportunities arise whereby new species of animals & plants evolve to fill the newly available ecological niches. There are only two small problems with this happy result: 1) most of the animals & plants that had occupied those ecosystems had to die off; and 2) it takes millions of years for this adaptive radiation to take place.
But in economies, unlike natural ecosystems, you can inflate another bubble so as to appear to make things right.
I can also assure you that after the next "boom" in our economy, there will a bust so Earth-shaking that past bubbles we've just gone through will pale in comparison. That next "boom" will be the last one, but the economic "extinction" that follows—just like the real one occurring now—will be with us for a long, long time.
Allow me to quote from Huffington's Shorting The Middle Class: The Real Wall Street Crime—
The SEC's action [against the Giant Squid] is a perfect moment for us to look at the bigger picture of how the American people were sold on the promise of never-ending prosperity while Wall Street was overseeing a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the richest Americans...
The results have been devastating: a disappearing middle class, a precipitous drop in economic and social mobility, and ultimately, the undermining of the foundation of our democracy.
The human toll of the shorting of the middle class is brought to life on sites like Ressionwire.com Telonu, LayoffSupportNetwork.com, and HowIGotLaidOff.com where the casualties of Wall Street's systemic scam share their personal stories...
Achieving middle class stability and having your children do better than you, the way you had done better than your parents, has always been the American Dream, but, as Dean Blackburn notes, mobility now is increasingly one way: "The plateaus of each step, which can be a great place to stop a bit and catch your breath, are gone. Now, it's climb, climb, climb, or start sliding back down immediately." The result: "the odds are you're going to wind up at the bottom eventually, unless you get lucky."
Luck. That's what the American Dream now rests on. It used to be about education, hard work and perseverance, but the system is rigged to such an extent now that the way to keep your head above water is to get lucky. The middle class life is now the prize on a scratch-off lottery ticket...
The evidence that the middle class has been consistently shorted is so overwhelming -- and the results so potentially damaging to our society -- that even bastions of establishment thinking are on alert. In a new strategy paper, The Hamilton Project -- the economic think tank founded by Robert Rubin (a big beneficiary of the shorting of the middle class) -- argues, in the Project's own words, "that the American tradition of expanding opportunity from one generation to the next is at risk because we are failing to make the necessary investments in human, physical, and environmental capital."
Of course, it's even worse than that. We are actually cutting back on our current investment in people (see the human cost of massive budget cuts in education, health care, and social services in state after state after state -- all across America).
Let's get back to Maria. Psychologists speak of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Narcissists are characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, though a lack of empathy is not confined to people fitting this diagnosis.
Bartiromo's fame has receded in recent years and her plans to fashion herself into a mainstream TV brand à la Martha Stewart haven't exactly gone according to plan. It's not for lack of trying... Bartiromo is married to Jonathan Steinberg, the son of famed financier Saul Steinberg, whose empire crumbled in 2001 when his Reliance Group went bankrupt. They live with their Maltese, Ella Bella, in a five-level townhouse in the East 60s that they purchased for $6.5 million in 2007.
In America, we do not regard narcissists as self-absorbed, conscienceless and dangerous. No, we listen to them, we admire them, and sometimes, as in the case of William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, we elect them president.
Grandiosity? A need for admiration? A lack of empathy? And a relentless social climber? Does this remind you of a certain CNBC Money Honey you know? If you want to know what's wrong with this country, and why there's little hope for improvement in America, look no further than this.