Treatment for Morgan Spurlock , James Shamus and Cinelan
Tokeville© (Are we high enough yet?)
A Treatment by Craig Hatkoff
--Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Written in 1851 by John Mackay, EPD Chronicles history’s three most infamous bubbles from the 17th century: “Tulipomania”; “The South Sea Bubble”; “The Mississippi Land Scheme”
--The Perpetraders: Trading Sardines
The inner psyche of the masters of the universe that knows the price of everything and the the value of nothing; “These aren’t eating sardines, they’re trading sardines!”; musical chairs; “sudden advice”
--Herd on the Cliff
Lemming-like behaviors and pathologies; following the crowd; Contrarians’ Delight. (This is a play on the WSJ column “Heard on the Street”)
--The Island of Stone Money
The Island of Yip where large stones (dropped into the ocean) serve as the central Bank’s primary currency for these aborginals; Keynes, Hayek; Friedman; Ayn Rand; Greenspan’s “flaw in my ideology”
--Dracububble or Frankenbubble?
The perils of Quantative Easing; repo and reverse repo and mismatching assets and liabilities; riding the yield curve; the yen carry trade
What happens when an Apocalyptic world and a crisis of confidence run headlong into fiscal and monetary irresponsibility and stupidity; Global derivatives and BIS Exhibit 19: The $700 trillion problem
--Will the Real Adam Smith Please Stand Up?
The disconnection of Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” and his magnum opus: ”The Theory of Moral Sentiments’Greed is good, laissez faire and the invisible hand; “Oh Really?”
--Dead Men Talking
What advice famous historical figures can offer on banking and the financial sytem
The role of accountability and religion in capitalism; McMorals and other accountability technologies; “The Peanut Butter Paradox”
What ever happened to: Dick Fuld; John Thorton; Maurice Greenberg; Ace Greenberg; Robert Rubin and other discredited heroes?
A Glossary for slightly twisted financial and political definitions in the spirit of Ambrose Bierce’s classic work
--Naming Rights (Modern Day Indulgences)
In the 16th century Martin Luther was enraged by the Catholic church’s sale of indulgences whereby sinners could buy tickets out of hell into purgatory. The Vatican was broke and this clever financing technique was deviced to pay for the upkeep and expansion of St. Peters Cathedral. It was the primary cause of Luther’s Reformation and the ensuing Thirty Years War. Today, the rich purchase “indulgences” by putting their names on buildings via charitable contributions thereby publicly redeeming themselves against their unconscionable acts.
--Gimme Shelter: Art, Schmart It’s All Very Smart (Part 1)
When artists appear in a museum show the value of their work soars. For collectors, there’s nothing like buying art cheap, letting it “appreciate”, donating it to a museum at inflated values, taking a huge tax deduction putting the excess cash in their pockets tax free. Why collectors pay for buidling these wildly expensive museums. Why museums are incented to have shows of their collectors’ favorite artists.
--Oils Well That Ends Well: Crude at $45 a Barrel
Oil at $45 a barrel would sure solve a lot of problems: our economy would take off. At $45 there goes Russia, there goes Venezuela, the goes Saudi Arabia. Donald Trump is a little but scary but might have a point about taking over the oil fields. But in this little thought experiment we use all of our our financial weapons and all-too-clever bankers and their toxic derivatives to control the oil market. If we can figure out how to land on the money and how to sell $14 trillion of our debt to investors at 0% interest rates then surely we are smart enough to finagle the price of oil down to $45. The marketplace will take care of the rest. Corrupt monarchies of the world beware: there is a wolf in sheihks clothing on the prowl.
--Fictistics versus Factistics: How to Lie with Statistics
Facts are stubborn things. How politicians magically cut unemployment in half by giving us the ficts. Unemployment is 5.9%. Oh really? Somehow if you simply give up and stop looking for a job you are not considered unemployed-- at least according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic that publishes its Exhibit A15. This wonderful little treasure trove reports six different measures of unemployment-- U-1 through U-6. If unemployment is measured using the definition for U-6 we are 11.8% unemployment. Iy gets worse-- much worse-- from there.
--GDP and the Sausage Makers
The financial markets wait with baited breath to hear the latest report on economic activity—the almighty GDP. But what exactly is GDP? As the saying goes “sausage is better eaten than watched made.” Ever stop to think who is making the sausage and what the hell they are putting in the sausage? Or whether what you are eating bears any resemblence to sausage in the first place? The shocking history of GDP is examined.
How Libor became Liebor. Barclay’s CEO Bob Diamond lost his job and the bank paid nearly half a billion dollar fine over an interest rate manipulation scandal: rigging the honor system that sets the most common interest rate index in all of banking known as LIBOR-- the London InterBank Offered Rate. It’s the rate that one bank will lend to another for short periods of time. Roughly $10 trillion of loans across the globe are priced off LIBOR not to mention hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives. The boys from Barclays rattled the entire financial system by fudging their rates reported daily at 11:00 AM to the British Banking Authority in an effort to hide their true financial condition. Who else was involved? There is supposed to be honor among thieves-- but apparently not bankers.
--Double Bubble It’s Chubble Trouble
The Great China Bubble? Musings on China’s economic miracle that could turn out to be the greatest bubble in history. Say what you will about the U.S. financial system, when left to its own devices (i.e. no government intervention) we know how to clear the market of bad loans and generally stupid investments in 18-24 months. China on the other hand has no credible bankruptcy code, terrible information systems, dubious accounting, no transparency and no “workout” culture for resolving bad loans and investments. Until you have been through a few financial crises its hard to wipe the slate clean and restore confidence.