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I am surprised they have the time, what with all the mustache twirling and damsel distressing
October 2, 2011 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Bloomberg markets report Koch Brothers Flout Law - Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales. Apparently, they knew this story was coming and began pre-butting it last week.
posted by shothotbot (108 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is not the first time we have seen their like:
It may well be that the determination of the government (in which, gentlemen, it will not waver) to punish certain malefactors of great wealth, has been responsible for something of the trouble; at least to the extent of having caused these men to combine to bring about as much financial stress as possible, in order to discredit the policy of the government and thereby secure a reversal of that policy, so that they may enjoy unmolested the fruits of their own evil-doing. . . . I regard this contest as one to determine who shall rule this free country—the people through their governmental agents, or a few ruthless and domineering men whose wealth makes them peculiarly formidable because they hide behind the breastworks of corporate organization
-Theodore Roosevelt
posted by shothotbot at 4:14 PM on October 2, 2011 [67 favorites]


10 minutes - you beat me by 10 minutes to this post - as I previewed , there you were.

The bloomberg article is a MUST SEE.
Pass it on!
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:16 PM on October 2, 2011


The two brothers were worth a combines total of 40 billion dollars. Using their vast wealth, they promoted a new agenda for America and the Tea Party rose to political prominence. The brothers promoted an agenda of libertarianism and patriotism, promising to fulfill the old conservative dream of drowning big government in a bathtub.

Except it was all all a lie as a shockingly detailed and honest expose of Koch Industries published today in Bloomberg Markets magazine reveals.

Sales to Iran in violation of U.S. law - check.
A company wide culture of international bribery - check.
Attempts to falsify worker safety data - check
Multi-million dollar wrongful death judgements - check

Bloomberg lays out a chilling case of corporate corruption, much of which has never seen press in America.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:17 PM on October 2, 2011 [43 favorites]


But the real question is whether or not anything will come of this report. I'm willing to bet 100$ (memail me) that the Koch Brothers and their company will remain unscathed by this. American politicians and media might mention it Monday and Tuesday and that will be that. Zero prosecutions is my wager and I so doubt I'll lose I hesitate to call it a "wager".

The rich are beyond the law in this country and the effects (or lack thereof) of these revelations will prove it.
posted by fuq at 4:21 PM on October 2, 2011 [29 favorites]


Write Eric Holder and demand an investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
posted by humanfont at 4:26 PM on October 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


I've spent the last decade or so trying to come up with reasonable ways to stop this kind of behavior, but everything I come up with involves heads and pikes.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:28 PM on October 2, 2011 [20 favorites]


The behavior will stop just as soon as it's no longer the most profitable business model.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:32 PM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Write Eric Holder and demand an investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Going after the Kochs would bolster the Tea Party, and Obama probably won't get re-elected, the way he's governing. This investigation of an open secret hasn't happened and it will likely never happen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:39 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Obama was what the Republicans think he is this would be RICO charges.
posted by jaduncan at 4:40 PM on October 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Seriously. If these guys were left-wingers, the world would be ending right now.
posted by nevercalm at 4:42 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Give these guys a break, they live in Witchita.
posted by hellojed at 4:55 PM on October 2, 2011


The Kochs will probably survive this, but maybe it'll put Scott Walker down for good.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:01 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't decide whether to bring out my surprised face or my 'O' face.
posted by swift at 5:02 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Koch brothers have vaulted into the American political spotlight in recent years. Koch Industries has spent more than $50 million to lobby in Washington since 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks political donations. The company opposed derivatives regulation and greenhouse gas limits.

The brothers have backed a foundation that has trained thousands of Tea Party activists. The Tea Party, a popular movement whose name stands for Taxed Enough Already, has grown into a potent force in national politics. Sixty representatives of Congress, out of a total of 435, identify themselves as Tea Party members. Virtually every Republican candidate for president -- including Texas Governor Rick Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann -- has solicited the group’s support.


They bought 60 reps and "trained" thousands of people to be stooges for gutting the critical work of government and dangerously deregulating industry; they've helped move the political discourse into the territory of complete irrationality and nakedly plutocratic policy, and they've done it for what amounts to pocket change for them, a few dozen million. This is obscene. We can't go on like this, as a nation, cutting spending, cutting social programs, letting the rich take whatever they want, leaving the unemployed and the debt-ridden to languish in the gutter; we're cutting our own goddamn throat for a fucking pittance at the behest of people who are downright evil.
posted by clockzero at 5:13 PM on October 2, 2011 [66 favorites]


I know "Surely this..." gets reused so often, but seriously, if they aren't arrested we truly aren't a nation of laws.
posted by odinsdream at 5:23 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


if they aren't arrested we truly aren't a nation of laws

What's ironic is that the police aren't arresting the people who ruined the economy, who were given billions of dollars to fix things and didn't end up using any of the taxpayers' money, and who ruined the livelihoods of millions of Americans. There's so much public call for arresting demonstrators under the pretext of maintaining "rule of law", but no call for incarceration of the ones who are responsible for the demonstrations happening in the first place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:30 PM on October 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


we're cutting our own goddamn throat for a fucking pittance

Unions: this is the impact you could have if you spent your political dues sensibly. Although, admittedly, MSNBC would need to be courted assiduously.
posted by jaduncan at 5:30 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is odd. I was thinking that this reminded me of the premise of Arrested Development ... and then I read a few FPPs down.
posted by chemoboy at 5:36 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apropos of doing business with Iran, we turned down a purchaser from Iran and got a cryptic note back saying, "I am from Iran you asshole. I crack you ass package."

See? Compliance is totally worth it.
posted by plinth at 5:38 PM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


And what is the current state of your ass package?
posted by shothotbot at 5:39 PM on October 2, 2011


No more Brawny around here. It's not much, but at least it's something tangible - although continuing to use Quilted Northern and mailing the used product back directly to Koch might be more emotionally satisfying.
posted by webhund at 5:43 PM on October 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Picture the media if this sort of thing came out about Warren Buffett.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:46 PM on October 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Given how ubiqutous this sort of corruption seems to be, I wonder to what extent that corruption presents a weakness that could be used as a bargaining chip even before anything is exposed.

"If you vote wrong on this issue, I've got 10.000 nerds on the internet eager to go on a fishing expedition on everything you own and every donor who gives you money for your next election; I'll make sure they're aware of that."
posted by Anything at 5:53 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


fuq: "The rich are beyond the law... and these revelations will prove it."

I will certainly be an interesting experiment. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping you're wrong, but I'm prepared to be disappointed. Again.
posted by sneebler at 5:56 PM on October 2, 2011


Zero prosecutions is my wager and I so doubt I'll lose I hesitate to call it a "wager".

Prosecuting the Koch Brothers is our one demand.

But no, I won't take that bet.
posted by salvia at 6:00 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Picture the media if this sort of thing came out about Warren Buffett.

Picture the Republicans in Congress if this was Buffet or Soros. If the Democrats don't have these bastards in front of a committee within 2 weeks, well... ahem, dare I say it?

Nader was right
posted by crayz at 6:05 PM on October 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Please tell me why I shouldn't feel just a tad bit more optimistic about the future given that Bloomberg posted this article?

Great post, thanks!
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:06 PM on October 2, 2011


This article may be right but it will make about as much difference as Andy Rooney's last speech.

Hey... I SMELL A MASHUP!
You know what I hate? I hate how people like me have to keep explaining to people like you the way things work in this country. Well, tonight's my last show, and I can only do it one last time. Yes, I'm retiring, this is the last show, and honestly, I'm glad to go because, well, and I've been waiting forty years to say this, but the chair in this office gives me haemorrhoids the size of frankfurters, and this network is just too cheap to do something about it. And it's not just the cheap chairs, it's also the burned coffee, pens that don't work and now they're trying to tell me I can't keep my jug of Chivas in the wastebasket, so ...
Okay, maybe it's just a ripe Depends.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:06 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


These guys are definitely evil, and I hope this will ultimately be very, very damaging for them, but the Bloomberg article is all over the map. Seriously, it's like reading six different articles superimposed on top of each other. It goes like:

-Summary of bribery incident involving a French subsidiary and the subsequent coverup--events that took place in 2008 and were made public in a court ruling in 2010.
-History of Koch Industries and what they make
-Stuff about David Koch running for Vice President in 1980 on a platform of ending a whole bunch of government programs
-The actual new news that Koch Industries sold petrochemical equipment to Iran through a subsidiary
-Some stuff about previous incidents they've been involved in going back to 1999, including fines for violating environmental and safety regulations and fraudulently misreporting the amount of oil they were extracting
-Responses from Koch Industries spokespeople about how their business is big and complicated and they always try really hard to be compliant with all the laws, honest
-In particular, their response to the Iran thing: "During the relevant time frame covered in your article, U.S. law allowed foreign subsidiaries of U.S. multinational companies to engage in trade involving countries subject to U.S. trade sanctions, including Iran, under certain conditions.”
-An admission that they may be telling the truth about that, but no one knows
-Brief history of the Tea Party
-Maybe some good stuff Koch Industries has done? PR campaigns and charitable donations, etc.
-A similar bribery story about Siemens, unrelated to the Kochs, except insofar as it made them nervous about this kind of thing (?)
-Back to the bribery story with the French subsidiary, the compliance officer who discovered it, and the division head who took the fall
-Some "smoking gun" evidence showing the division head didn't act alone and the French court ruling that agreed
-An appellate court ruling that upheld the previous one and awarded the division head some damages
-A lawsuit brought by the compliance officer saying she was wrongfully terminated and the ruling against her
-Hints that the U.S. Justice Department might be investigating Koch Industries for the bribery thing
-An abrupt segue back to the Iran thing: "While Koch-Glitsch was conducting its internal probe of illicit payments for contracts, the U.S. government was investigating Koch’s European unit on another front: sales to Iran."
-Some evidence that maybe Koch Industries did everything it had to legally to sidestep the U.S. laws against doing business with Iran: "Koch Industries took elaborate steps to ensure that its U.S.-based employees weren’t involved in the sales to Iran, internal documents show. "
-Some history of why the U.S. doesn't allow businesses to deal with Iran
-Allegations of a completely separate price-fixing incident (actually multiple incidents from 2002-2008) in Germany and the resulting court settlement: "The German regulator said the violations were a minor infraction."
-Another price-fixing incident with a textiles manufacturer in 2002
-Some more court settlements for antitrust cases related to the textile subsidiary
-An incident in 1996 involving benzene emissions at an oil refinery in Texas
-Some attempts to cover up the benzene incident
-A court settlement in 2001 ordering them to pay damages for the benzene thing
-Some more claims of violating environmental regulation, all settled by the late 1990s or early 2000s, but maybe still ongoing problems with the settlements
-Internecine strife between Koch brothers leading to a federal investigation in 1989 (!) of an oil operation on Native American land--the misreporting allegations from the beginning
-A civil suit related to the above, and the settlement in 2001
-An EPA investigation into pipeline safety in 1995 and a pipeline explosion in 1996 that killed two teenagers
-More about the pipeline explosion
-The $296 million court settlement from the pipeline explosion and the $35 million settlement with the EPA
-Some more about the pipeline explosion
-An ominous quote from David Koch: "My overall concept is to minimize the role of government and to maximize the role of the private economy and maximize personal freedoms"

I feel like it's all supposed to be building to something, but I'm really not sure what apart from "Koch brothers = assholes." It's not even clear what the Kochs are being busted for here. It kind of just reads like a list of a whole bunch of shitty illegal stuff they've done and for the most part already been penalized for, with the suggestion that maybe there's a ton more we don't know about. Like the bribery thing or the Iran thing, which it sounds like maybe was actually legal? But we won't know until we have a full investigation? But that won't happen if the Koch brothers get their way and the Tea Party takes over the government?

Maybe as the story unfolds and gets picked up and rehashed by other media outlets (with editors!), this will all start to come more into focus.
posted by albrecht at 6:08 PM on October 2, 2011 [24 favorites]


To correct a previous comment, according to the latest Forbes 400, the Koches have a combined FIFTY billion bucks, $25-billion each, putting them tied for #4 on the Forbes 400.

One of their most serious media enemies, Rachel Maddow, made up a chart a week ago, comparing their wealth over the last 5 years with the number of (self-reported) jobs their companies provide. To no surprise, the number dropped from 80,000 to 70,000 during the Recession, and then dropped to 67,000 during the Recovery.

Speaking of The Media, I was also kinda surprised at the source of this story. Bloomberg? Which was built on providing expensive exclusive info to Wall Street insiders? I'd think Michael B. and company would be more protective of the Forbes #4's... but then I realized, most of the Koches' holdings are in a Privately Held Corporation, one that The Markets don't get to play with, so maybe they don't have as many friends 'On The Street' as you might think. Is it possible that the rest of the Top .01% might be willing to throw Charles and David under the bus to help protect their own skins? This IS going to be getting more interesting.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:09 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Charles Koch to Friedrich Hayek: Use Social Security!

Ideas For Sale
posted by homunculus at 6:09 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe as the story unfolds and gets picked up and rehashed by other media outlets (with editors!)

Agreed. It was full of fascinating information and quotes, but was written like some Freshman HS term paper
posted by crayz at 6:10 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last week, I went to the American Museum of Natural History with my 3 year old daughter to see the dinosaurs. Her first trip, and she's in total thrall to the world of dinosaurs so exciting it was indeed until I saw that they renamed the Hall of Dinosaurs the David H. Koch Hall of Dinosaurs and I almost threw up.
posted by Skygazer at 6:10 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


the David H. Koch Hall of Dinosaurs

The Koch's do support large, doomed beasts with brains the size of walnuts.
posted by The Whelk at 6:21 PM on October 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


Hmm, the article doesn't mention that bet Koch brothers had where one bet a black street bum could do just a good a job as their blue blood trader. Remember? The blue blood and the black guy got together with Jamie Lee Curtis and caused the Koch brothers to lose their fortune.
posted by the noob at 6:33 PM on October 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


I try to maintain the non-violent spirit but it's hard to get across "standing trial for treason" in the medium of effigies
posted by The Whelk at 6:37 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


dammit the noob, I was just thinking the same thing!
posted by Chekhovian at 6:37 PM on October 2, 2011


This is the story of two brothers who lost it all...And the news network that tried to hold it all together...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Skygazer: "Last week, I went to the American Museum of Natural History with my 3 year old daughter to see the dinosaurs. Her first trip, and she's in total thrall to the world of dinosaurs so exciting it was indeed until I saw that they renamed the Hall of Dinosaurs the David H. Koch Hall of Dinosaurs and I almost threw up."

You do need to remember that without the dinosaurs, they wouldn't have their fortune...
posted by FireballForever at 6:47 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Does anyone think anything is going to happen to these guys? Come on.
posted by delmoi at 7:14 PM on October 2, 2011


Okay, so wait - multi-billion-dollar corporation CEOs sell heavy manufacturing equipment to an anti-American state sponsor of terrorism while simultaneously firing mid-level executives who do too good a job at uncovering bribery and corruption?

...wasn't that EXACTLY the story of Rutger Hauer's Evil Wayne Enterprises CEO(tm) in Batman Begins?
posted by Ryvar at 7:17 PM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Does anyone think anything is going to happen to these guys? Come on.

I don't have a lot of hope for it, no. But Madoff came down. So did Abramoff and DeLay. So did Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, and it's not like they weren't up to their asses in political connections.

It's fucked up, but it's basically up to the media to make this sexy. That's what gets the prosecutions rolling.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:25 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


albrecht, thanks for taking the effort to break the article down a little bit. It is an unwieldy mess, and the shotgun approach makes it seem more of a book treatment than actual journalism.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:27 PM on October 2, 2011


But you guys! They once gave money to cancer research, and that makes them very good philanthropists, so how can you liberals criticize them unless you like cancer?

(Based on prior conservative responses to anti-Koch articles on Reddit)
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:27 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Pure market economy," an oxymoron of the first order, the pure part.
posted by Oyéah at 7:30 PM on October 2, 2011


With friends like Clarence Thomas this case will never see a really high court. But maybe Judge Thomas, will be seen as fraternizing with criminals, and have to step down.
posted by Oyéah at 7:32 PM on October 2, 2011


I'd agree the article is structured around the culture of corruption at Koch industries, which distracts from the individual crimes, but maybe that's necessary if you're seeking to expose the culture of corruption itself. And the individual crimes like selling petrochemical refining equipment to Iran are extremely serious.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:39 PM on October 2, 2011


This is the one thing that surfaces out of many in this long article. What the Koch Brothers did on Indian Reservations, must go on everywhere else. For instance, I guess that Royal Dutch Shell got the contract for the Arctic drilling. Up in the Arctic, do they handle crude accounting like the Kochs do out on the reservations? Is this how BP measures the crude they take from the Gulf? Have the Kochs just been caught at business as usual in the oil pumping business?
Of course it has to be, wouldn't you think that all the big boys play the same game, or else they can't compete with each other? If we are going to drill in the US, I wish that American companies did the job. Then I wonder, is there an American company left in the oil business? Why are the Dutch drilling our oil, and why then do they get to sell it back to us for whatever price the oil clan agrees on? I have digressed, but I think the Koch brothers are very successful, but likely, not unlike everyone else in the business, except for their butt naked, evil, politicking, and bizarro world philanthropy.
posted by Oyéah at 7:43 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Koch's do support large, doomed beasts with brains the size of walnuts --- I'm always a little shocked and chagrined when I see and hear his name in the supporting credits of PBS shows like NOVA. It makes me realize that even evil political opponents can make valuable contributions to things I also support, and that the world isn't always as black and white as online web comment boards make it seem.
posted by crunchland at 7:49 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm willing to bet 100$ (memail me) that the Koch Brothers and their company will remain unscathed by this.

I'm publicly calling your bet. If there aren't indictments before the next presidential election you'll have earned yourself a crisp new Benjamin.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:54 PM on October 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well again, these contributions to the doomed beasts, is for their personal entertainment. When the sun goes down, they want to rub elbows with glitterati, and luminaries, not oil men, drillers, accountants, blatant bimbos, and they want to feel ownership of that terrain, because freedom is outside their comfort zone.
posted by Oyéah at 7:54 PM on October 2, 2011


even evil political opponents can make valuable contributions to things I also support

Turns out, Theodore Roosevelt anticipated this as well:
Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a
life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil.
posted by shothotbot at 7:55 PM on October 2, 2011 [28 favorites]


Umm, I've always heard that PBS acquiring new sponsors indicates serious corporate malfeasance by said sponsors will be revealed during the next year, crunchland.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:59 PM on October 2, 2011


I'm always a little shocked and chagrined when I see and hear his name in the supporting credits of PBS shows like NOVA. It makes me realize that even evil political opponents can make valuable contributions to things I also support, and that the world isn't always as black and white as online web comment boards make it seem.

Conclusion is valid, but doesn't follow from the premises.
posted by goethean at 8:00 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boycott Koch products: a handy guide.
posted by 200burritos at 8:03 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


"If you vote wrong on this issue, I've got 10.000 nerds on the internet eager to go on a fishing expedition on everything you own and every donor who gives you money for your next election; I'll make sure they're aware of that."

Anything, I know that was a typo, but threatening to come after them with 10.000 nerds - not 0.1% more or less of a nerd! - felt so damned... appropos. Rainman, Attorney at Law.

--

I can't add anything substantive to this thread, the facts sicken me so...
posted by IAmBroom at 8:16 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boycott Koch products: a handy guide.

200burritos, I appreciate the sentiment, but - how long has it been since a boycott call made any difference at all, politically? And we're talking about people with $50B in their pockets. Just how many people are going to have to boycott their products worldwide before they even notice?

These people are capital-E Evil. "Selling supplies to their own country's enemies" evil. "Actively training employees to increase deaths through benzene poisoning" evil.

We need political battering rams, not slingshots.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:21 PM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


As a cynical person I can't help but note that it's interesting that this Bloomberg magazine is going after the countries largest privately held company. Unlike most publicly traded corporations, wallstreet doesn't make money off of them when they make a profit. You can see why people on wallstreet would be jealous of these guys, keeping the money to themselves rather then putting it in the pockets of Goldman Sachs, where it belongs.
posted by delmoi at 8:42 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have the Kochs just been caught at business as usual in the oil pumping business?

Absolutely. It is the price of doing business and is priced into their business model. What does a couple of hundred million dollars in fines mean, when you're talking billions in profits and getting to keep the profits of one's crime.

Well again, these contributions to the doomed beasts, is for their personal entertainment. When the sun goes down, they want to rub elbows with glitterati, and luminaries, not oil men, drillers, accountants, blatant bimbos, and they want to feel ownership of that terrain, because freedom is outside their comfort zone.

Yeah, I agree. At the end of the day they don't want to spend time with knuckle-dragging illiterate Tea Baggers (oh that they should sully themselves with that rabble of neanderthals!), but with smart cultured liberals, at the same time there's a pattern: Koch had the Opera at the MET named after himself, as well as that big NOVA credit and there's demarcation about it, a pissing to delineate one's territory. An alpha male FUCK YOU to the masses and the new deal that established that sense of the nation caring for the education and bringing of culture to it's citizen. It's just grotesque to me that David H. Koch can have the Hall of fucking dinosaurs named after himself like that. It was there way before his father bequeathed him money made from selling oil to Hitler and then Stalin (there's a precedent for Koch industries doing business with tyrants).

That Hall belongs to every little kid who walked through there in wonder over it's many decades and is the gift we give to every little kid in the future who will walk through there in wonder. Having David H Koch's name on the sign above the doorway in huge letters is basically like the biggest FUCK YOU to that legacy and every child who walks through there thinking David H. Koch is a good person and not a sleazeball with 25 Billion dollars.
posted by Skygazer at 8:48 PM on October 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


even evil political opponents can make valuable contributions to things I also support

The thing about most of these uber-rich CEO/board-member people making contributions is that they know they are so worthless to society that their names will be forgotten to history, they didn't inspire countless children or write a good book or make a positive lasting change to society or discover a new planet or discover a cure for cancer or anything like that. Yes, they are pulling strings and being influential behind the scenes, but their names will be forgotten in a few generations because all they have done with their lives is making money. I think some part of them realizes they they have done nothing to contribute to humanity like Shakespere or MLK or even Elvis Presley. They donate large sums to have places named after them because it is the only way their names will be preserved. Ultimately, it's sad because they will still be forgotten and all of their money and influence will roll over to the next psychopath who can take it and rename the hospital wing or school or museum or whatnot.

As a cynical person I can't help but note that it's interesting that this Bloomberg magazine is going after the countries largest privately held company.

Ah the aristocrats. Instead of solidarity and communion, they have money. Let them realize they have no allies even in their peers and let them eat each other.
posted by fuq at 8:59 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing will come of this, nothing. These fucks are beyond accountability. The only question we should be asking is "how much money buys exception to the legal system?" Is it $1mil? 10? 100? It's the only question that matters.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:01 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Turns out, Theodore Roosevelt anticipated this as well --- I've read all three books about TR by Edmund Morris, and I may admire him as much as you do, but nuance wasn't his strongest suit. I don't mean to defend the Koch brothers, but many of the great institutions we all rely on were funded by endowments by the same robber barons and plutocrats that TR railed against.
posted by crunchland at 9:03 PM on October 2, 2011


how long has it been since a boycott call made any difference at all, politically?

You're not wrong, but for some of us it's nice to know that part of the 10 bucks I spend on toilet paper every month isn't going to assholes.

I mean, I'm sure it's going to some assholes, but at least it's not these assholes.
posted by auto-correct at 9:05 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Presumably yours
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:14 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anything, I know that was a typo, but threatening to come after them with 10.000 nerds - not 0.1% more or less of a nerd!

Not a typo, European notation.
posted by pompomtom at 9:34 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the article is correct, it looks like the Koch's business interests have been held accountable for many of their wrongdoings. But the Iran entanglement is looking especially egregious.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:57 PM on October 2, 2011


I am quoting Roosevelt out of a hope that our new gilded age will lead, in somewhat short order, to a new reform movement. Though if 2003 -2009 didn't do it, I am not sure what will.
posted by shothotbot at 9:58 PM on October 2, 2011


Now every man claims to be the toughest and the meanest
Watch your crocks, because soon the losers will be your weenus
And the winners in all the gladiator arenas
Are always the ones that go straight for the penis
Theodore Roosevelt on perseverance against tyranny, commonly paraphrased to "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick"
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:07 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anything, I know that was a typo, but threatening to come after them with 10.000 nerds - not 0.1% more or less of a nerd!

Not a typo, European notation.

pompomtom, from your own link: not European notation, but specifically French.

I am more familiar with English notation (10 000), thus my confusion.

I still prefer my interpretation, tho'!
posted by IAmBroom at 10:31 PM on October 2, 2011


...and "German and Other European Languages".

I'm not sure why the French get singled out in that link - but I don't know of any continental European nation that doesn't use '.' as a thousands separator, and ',' for decimals.

Sorry, I concede that it's not a great link....
posted by pompomtom at 10:39 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


America should have forced the Europeans to adopt the comma as a thousands separator after WWII.
posted by delmoi at 1:05 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


America should have forced the Europeans to adopt the comma as a thousands separator after WWII.

We'll do it as soon as you metricate (although you already cheated out of a similar agreement on one occasion).
posted by Skeptic at 2:28 AM on October 3, 2011


Zero prosecutions is my wager and I so doubt I'll lose I hesitate to call it a "wager".

I agree. Remember Halliburton's work in Pars field? Apparently the key is to have a subsidiary -- Halliburton based theirs in the Cayman Islands. My guess is that the pro-Koch arguments will be 1) other companies have done this too; and 2) there was a subsidiary. Some of the left will be confused about where to focus their anger (with all the companies, and loopholes in the laws, and general discussions about corruption), and some will argue that trade embargoes are unfair to the citizens of the countries we have embargoes against, and then it will all just fall apart due to a lack of focus.
posted by Houstonian at 4:29 AM on October 3, 2011


IAmBroom: My individual $3.99 may mean nothing to the Koch Brothers, but $3.99 X (every U.S. adult buying paper towels) and negative public opinion certainly will.

Organic produce and products are now carried most places because consumers created a demand. US citizens can create a demand for products not owned by corporations that are destroying our country just because they want more power. We need to come together as a people and only support that which helps the US prosper even if it is inconvenient. If the only thing that matters to these people is money, we need to talk their language. No more money for them.

No matter the final outcome of our actions, we still need to keep our morals when the people in power don't even care about us. The simple ability to refuse to buy or use Brawny paper towels will at least make me feel better about the little things that I can do. It's too easy to focus on how little say we have; I'd prefer to do whatever I can to make my position known. If we all have that attitude, we can change things.
posted by 200burritos at 6:36 AM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I feel like it's all supposed to be building to something, but I'm really not sure what [...]"
posted by albrecht at 6:08 PM on October 2
A Pulitzer, most likely. The article has that ineffable quality that indicates they wish it to be submitted for consideration.
posted by gjc at 7:01 AM on October 3, 2011


> Organic produce and products are now carried most places because consumers created a demand.

To some extent, the demand may have gotten it started. But the real reason organic stuff is widely available is is because it is profitable for the businesses involved in its production, distribution and sale. Not simply because people want it.
posted by frijole at 7:03 AM on October 3, 2011


If there was no demand, it wouldn't be profitable. It takes both supply and demand.
posted by VTX at 7:10 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom: My individual $3.99 may mean nothing to the Koch Brothers, but $3.99 X (every U.S. adult buying paper towels) and negative public opinion certainly will.

200burritos, way to miss my point. Ironically, you answered my question: "Just how many people are going to have to boycott their products worldwide before they even notice?" ... "every U.S. adult" (300,000,000 people).

Odds of that happening: essentially zero.


If we all have that attitude, we can change things.

If we all have that attitude, the Koch Brothers will die in poverty, sure. And if wishes were fishes...

Or, we can concentrate our efforts on more effective measures. That's all I'm saying.

Go ahead and boycott Koch products, if you like. But it's a bit like recycling the paper stickers off of grocery store fruit... infinitesimal in effect.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:30 AM on October 3, 2011


business interests have been held accountable

Fictional, paper-based entities have "been held accountable" for the crimes of the Koch brothers and so all is well? Even though many of those crimes were perpetrated against non-fictional, flesh and blood entities?

Who or what has been held accountable for any of these offenses, and in what way?

Accountable enough to justify even one pair of kids getting burned up alive in a ball of fire due to cost-cutting motivated negligence in the upkeep of a pipeline? Really? Has anyone or thing paid enough of a price that we can honestly say justice has been served for even a single victim of one of the Koch industries' many abuses?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:48 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree that change is difficult to accomplish, but a negative attitude from the beginning means that nothing will ever happen. You suggest concentrating efforts on more effective measures, but you do not explain what those are. Do you think that we should continue to purchase Koch products and focus our attention elsewhere? I only suggested boycotting products because it can be done at the grocery store when we are doing our weekly shopping. Nearly everybody purchases or will purchase paper products (regardless of class, race, political party preference) and is able to make a conscious vote with their dollars. I am very open to other ideas and I would love to hear your opinions on useful grassroots things that citizens can do.
posted by 200burritos at 7:50 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there was no demand, it wouldn't be profitable. It takes both supply and demand.

This is nonsense.

The Koch's make their money on commodities. They are primarily private energy traders and dealers. Think back to your old high school economics class, if you took one, and try to remember what's special about commodities...

Well, for one thing, they're traded as fungible goods on open pre-consumer markets. As a result, consumers don't really have any direct selection power in influencing the choices made in sourcing commodities.

Like other fungible commodities, all the crude oil in the world, wherever it comes from, basically gets mixed together and sold on producer markets that precede their uses on the consumer market. Even in standard economic theory, end-consumers don't have direct selection power over commodities--producers drive the commodities markets. So this self-loathing, victim-blaming crap is misplaced here.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:56 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That comment had nothing to do with the products that the Koch brothers and their companies produce but was direct at the comment about the emergence of organic products.

This one: To some extent, the demand may have gotten it started. But the real reason organic stuff is widely available is is because it is profitable for the businesses involved in its production, distribution and sale. Not simply because people want it.

Even so, the comment isn't nonsense. You're just reading more into than you should. You seem to think that I'm arguing for a boycott of Koch products, I'm not. I'll do it on the products that I can because it makes me feel good about myself but I know it won't really affect anything. The most we can hope for is to make that division unprofitable and they'll sell it off or shut it down. I'm under no illusions that my purchasing decisions can affect the parts of the company that really matter.
posted by VTX at 8:14 AM on October 3, 2011


if they aren't arrested we truly aren't a nation of laws

What's ironic is that the police aren't arresting the people who ruined the economy, who were given billions of dollars to fix things and didn't end up using any of the taxpayers' money, and who ruined the livelihoods of millions of Americans. There's so much public call for arresting demonstrators under the pretext of maintaining "rule of law", but no call for incarceration of the ones who are responsible for the demonstrations happening in the first place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:30 PM on October 2
This is a narrative that keeps getting repeated, but I see very little evidence that there were any crimes committed. Stupidity, greed and lack of forethought, sure thing. But beyond the occasional mortgage fraud, which is being prosecuted as it is discovered, there really doesn't seem to be any big crimes out there to be prosecuted.

And mortgage fraud didn't cause the asset bubble in housing, cheap credit did.

The economy faltered because home values quit rising, because the rising values were being supported by too-easy access to credit. Those two things fed off of each other and were leveraged against each other. When the bubble burst, a lot of stuff de-leveraged. Given the amount of money that was destroyed by that, it is a near-miracle that it wasn't worse. Deflation is like a fire that consumes money far more quickly than it was created, and destroys everything in its path. The billions that were "given" to these boogey men weren't meant to fix things, it was done to put out the fire.

The point is this: it isn't a conspiracy. The economy crashed because it was doomed to crash. What made this bubble particularly stifling was that so many people were directly involved via home ownership and a reliance on cheap and easy credit.

Why are demonstrators being arrested? Because that is what happens when people cause chaos and create dangerous situations.
posted by gjc at 8:57 AM on October 3, 2011


IAmBroom: Go ahead and boycott Koch products, if you like. But it's a bit like recycling the paper stickers off of grocery store fruit... infinitesimal in effect.

I disagree. I was around in the 60's and 70's where boycotts of heinous companies happened weekly and guess what - they worked! They worked not just because someone didn't buy Brawny or Sparkle paper towels or StainMaster carpet , they worked because people talked about their boycott and they talked about the reasons for the boycott and pretty soon the boycott made the business pages of some newspaper and that got even more people talking. And soon enough things changed because all of that built upon itself.

It is very easy to say that you can do nothing which gives you the the perfect excuse to do nothing. But the truth is that small efforts can snowball into big changes
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:18 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


And mortgage fraud didn't cause the asset bubble in housing, cheap credit did.

Right.
Apparently there is 20% of people in this country that will believe anything. In every poll 20% believe that Obama is not a citizen. 20% will believe that W.M.D.s were in Iraq. 20% will believe that the Laffer curve is actually a real thing instead of some shit some half drunk economist wrote on the back of a napkin one evening. 20% will believe that lowering corporate taxes creates American jobs and 20% believe in trickle down.

As far as I am concerned , 20% of this country can seriously go and .... .... {sigh}
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:27 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


it isn't a conspiracy.

In order for this bubble to have worked the way it did, (subprime and high risk being valued as top rated, etc) there almost certainly needed to be some level of collusion involved between separate people and groups, which is a pretty good definition of a conspiracy in my book.

As to whether or not the Koch brothers broke any laws? Well, I'd like to think that the Iran stuff alone is enough to warrant a real investigation, by actual people with a strong knowledge of the regulations. You know, the kind that they would like desperately to see go away so that they could stop worrying about stuff like this.
posted by quin at 9:51 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Poet_Lariat: {sigh} right back at you. Instead of lumping me with birthers and liars (and concepts you seem to know nothing about), how about you make a point? Do you know what mortgage fraud is and what an asset bubble is?

quin: it didn't have to be collusion. It could just as easily have been mutual incompetence.
posted by gjc at 10:15 AM on October 3, 2011


You seem to think that I'm arguing for a boycott of Koch products, I'm not.

Sorry if I read you wrong. I think I may have accidentally confused your comment with another. I was addressing the idea that always comes up in these kinds of discussions about how we're all complicit because it's our voluntary economic support that allows them to operate. But that's not strictly true when it comes to guys like the Koch brothers: as commodity brokers/dealers, they prey on producers as much as on consumers. Consumer demand only comes into it downstream, and by then it's impossible to tell where the goods (oil, paper, etc.) actually came from, because they are pooled and sold as fungible commodities on the markets before they ever reach consumers. That's also why they need to be much more vigorously regulated.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:27 AM on October 3, 2011


I'm always a little shocked and chagrined when I see and hear his name in the supporting credits of PBS shows like NOVA. It makes me realize that even evil political opponents can make valuable contributions to things I also support, and that the world isn't always as black and white as online web comment boards make it seem.

Money well spent.
posted by heathkit at 10:33 AM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm always a little shocked and chagrined when I see and hear his name in the supporting credits of PBS shows like NOVA. It makes me realize that even evil political opponents can make valuable contributions to things I also support, and that the world isn't always as black and white as online web comment boards make it seem.

Money well spent.


Double advantage of tax write-off and combating the negative association of the name among the educated. Same reason ADM, Chevron, Exxon/Mobil, etc. pump money into public tv. It would be interesting to know whether these big underwriters are buying influence; I know when I watched a recent NOVA segment on how "climate change created modern humans" it felt like someone was injecting right-wing rhetorical spin into paleontology. It was really weird.
posted by aught at 11:01 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the aspiring, billionaire private propagandist, it's a three-fer:

1) Tax write-off
2) Feel-good PR for the brand
3) Influence/editorial control over science reporting available to public

The sum of those selfish advantages truly do add up to a net gain for society as a whole, just as Rand would have expected.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:24 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I disagree. I was around in the 60's and 70's where boycotts of heinous companies happened weekly and guess what - they worked!

Yes, Poet_Lariat - they did work back then. But, as I said,
...how long has it been since a boycott call made any difference at all, politically?

... and you seem to be answering, "over 30 years" (since the end of the 70's). You haven't convinced me that it's still an effective political tool. In fact, your statement shores mine up.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:31 AM on October 3, 2011


You're speaking too generally. There have been plenty of effective boycotts since the 70s, especially if you include all the right-wing phone tree promoted boycotts that have gotten TV shows cancelled, apologetic statements from major companies issued, etc.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:28 PM on October 3, 2011


Oh, and Glenn Beck reportedly got fired from Fox as the end result of a boycott.

Boycotts in the abstract don't do anything because, in practice, there's no such thing as a "boycott in the abstract" whose success we can evaluate.

But some specific boycotts have been effective. Others have not. That's all one can say, while remaining honest.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:40 PM on October 3, 2011


IamABroom: Go ahead and boycott Koch products, if you like. But it's a bit like recycling the paper stickers off of grocery store fruit... infinitesimal in effect.

Bullshit.

The thing that infuriates me is not only that self-defeatist attitude, but also the fact that the Koch's are organized labor's, and the middle class's number one enemy, of that, there should be little doubt.

If Unions across the board refused to transport unload, or stock and put out Georgia-Pacific/KOCH products you can bet your ass David H. "Motherfuckin' Dinosaur Hall" KOCH would be screaming bloody murder in a nanosecond. The guy would give birth to a fuckin' baby brontosaurus.

Even if it was only Brawny paper towels.

So, why is it the unions don't do this?? To me it just says that they've become sclerotic and unresponsive and too close to the established don't rock the boat status quo. I am 100% pro-union, but damn if the labor movement, especially the most visible leaders, people like Richard Trumka, aren't long overdue for having a fire lit under their asses.
posted by Skygazer at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bullshit.
...
So, why is it the unions don't do this?? To me it just says that they've become sclerotic and unresponsive and too close to the established don't rock the boat status quo.


So, you call bullshit on my claim that boycotting will have only have infinitesimal effect, Skygazer... and then proceed to admit the unions don't seem to support boycotts anymore and won't rock the boat. You failed to point out why my claim is bullshit; you only pointed out why you felt it ought to be bullshit... and reinforced my point about boycotts being less effective.

Logic isn't your strong point, at least when your passions are stirred.

Now, saulgoodman, OTOH: good point. Media boycotts seem to have remained effective. But the Koch empire is not founded on the media (as Murdoch's is)... are there similar examples for hard consumer goods you can think of?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:10 PM on October 3, 2011


saulgoodman: But some specific boycotts have been effective. Others have not. That's all one can say, while remaining honest.

Some threatened boycotts have stopped legislation in it's tracks. In 1990 Idaho's State legislature was preparing to pass the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country (In a nutshell, Abortions only allowed for rape, incest, health of the mother etc), and were very close to doing it. All it needed was the signature of the Anti-abortion governor, Cecil Andrus to sign the bill. That all came to a screeching halt when NOW and other women's right's groups threatened a boycott of Idaho potatoes.

Andrus "after much agonized soul-searching...yadda...yadda..." and calls from potato farmers ready to have his head on a platter if he signed the bill, vetoed it.

And to this day, although the Right there makes symbolic rumblings about restricting abortion, Idaho keeps a very verrry low profile over that contentious area of politics.
posted by Skygazer at 1:16 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the Koch empire is not founded on the media (as Murdoch's is)... are there similar examples for hard consumer goods you can think of?

Possibly, I'll think about it--but it's doubtful there are any examples of effective consumer boycotts on any producers of fungible commodities. As consumers, we can't
directly boycott much of what the Koch's bring to the market.

But unions could possibly boycott them logistically and operationally, as Skygazer suggested, and put a serious strain on how they do business, if not drive them out of the market entirely. Odds are, even the Koch's do rely on union labor at some point. Boycotts don't always have to be mass, end-consumer boycotts.

The way commodities are traded--as if it doesn't matter where they're sourced from, in accordance with free market ideas about the economic fungibility of raw materials--is part of the problem. It effectively takes consumer choice out of the decision processes where most of the decisions with serious ethical and social impacts are made.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:28 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


IAmaBroom: You failed to point out why my claim is bullshit; you only pointed out why you felt it ought to be bullshit... and reinforced my point about boycotts being less effective.

It's the defeatism that drives that attitude that elicited that granted less than articulate, but oh so heroic and breastbeatingly satisfying cry of BS. LOLZ. Mea culpa...

Look, I think we're agreeing that boycotts can and should be more effective. But they need to be organized well and have good execution and be designed like any offensive to WIN and not be random folks here and there sneering at Brawny paper towels quixotically when they see them in a grocery store.

I think Occupy Wall Street, is giving me some hope that things are changing and that their's a 99% renaissance underway. We have truly been much too passive and much to easily led and much too ineffectual for too long.

Anyhow, good point. When I get passionate I definitely lose sight of logic. I'll have to channel my inner Zeno of Citium more rigorously.
posted by Skygazer at 1:49 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


IAmaBroom: AreYouaTroll?













I'm still waiting on your positive alternative suggestions!
posted by 200burritos at 1:57 PM on October 3, 2011


Nah, he's not a troll. Just a human.
posted by Skygazer at 2:07 PM on October 3, 2011


Zero prosecutions is my wager and I so doubt I'll lose I hesitate to call it a "wager".

I believe the appropriate size of that wager, given the subject matter, is one dollar.
posted by holgate at 6:29 PM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


gjc wrote: And mortgage fraud didn't cause the asset bubble in housing, cheap credit did.

The economy faltered because home values quit rising, because the rising values were being supported by too-easy access to credit


Much of that cheap credit was cheap and available because of fraud on the part of brokers and originators. They didn't give a flying fuck because it was all being sold to Wall Street investment houses to be divvied up into layer upon layer of arcane securities, on which layers and layers of arcane derivatives were further piled on.

Were there merely a general decline in housing prices without an accompanying hemorrhage of jobs, we wouldn't be in nearly the situation we're in. Much of the economic damage is not due to homeowners defaulting, it's gigantic payouts on CDS contracts to people who didn't even own the underlying security, further weakening the established institutions that, like it or not, help keep the merry go round going round.

I forget the exact number I read, but somewhere around 40% of all the IO loans were fraudulent, most of the time with the broker's encouragement. (and often without the borrower's knowledge)
posted by wierdo at 7:26 PM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seconding what wierdo said: the real issue was and remains mortgage fraud.

The Feds just busted another massive real estate fraud ring (involving multiple banks and real estate agencies) doing $40 million in fraudulent business here in Florida.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:27 AM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, 200burritos, I am not a troll, but neither am I your performing monkey.

I disagreed with you, and suggested that your approach would be ineffectual. I think you'd be hard-pressed to prove that constitutes troll-worthy commentary; most people would call it "debate".
posted by IAmBroom at 9:15 AM on October 4, 2011


Weirdo: They didn't give a flying fuck because it was all being sold to Wall Street investment houses to be divvied up into layer upon layer of arcane securities, on which layers and layers of arcane derivatives were further piled on.

And AND...AND....being issued triple AAA+ ratings by Moody's, S&P AND FITCH!


Why is it so difficult to make people understand and REMEMBER the massive systemic corruption and fraud perpetrated by Wall Street and it's enablers in the media, and at the SEC.

It's astonishing, that what happened has been so spun and distorted and revised and diluited, that these incredible aspects need to be repeated again and again and again...

What is this mass hypnosis, or what??
posted by Skygazer at 12:59 PM on October 4, 2011


Why is it so difficult to make people understand and REMEMBER the massive systemic corruption and fraud perpetrated by Wall Street and it's enablers in the media, and at the SEC

1. They have better P.R. than we do. Much better. In fact the people who have done these things own much of the available P.R. media to various extents.

2. They have much more money than we do (money which used to be ours).

3. 20% of the American people are massively stupid.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:50 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Skygazer wrote: And AND...AND....being issued triple AAA+ ratings by Moody's, S&P AND FITCH!

In the beginning of what came to be the debacle known as the financial crisis, the ratings agencies weren't at any fault, at least beyond the usual dull roar of stupidity that permeates their core. The basic principle of the edifice of shit wasn't actually a bad one. Spreading risk is known to greatly reduce risk, after all. The problem came when the fraudulent loans were stuffed in the MBS and had CDOs built upon them. Had the ratings agencies done their homework, perhaps it would have been caught. (there are some emails suggesting they did finally catch on in the waning months of the hysteria)

That said, once the investment houses started to let the buyers pick what was going in, it was all over. Why? Because the buyers wanted their MBS (or CDO tranche) to have as many fraudulent loans in them as possible so as to make money off the CDS when it blew up. The CDS were grossly mispriced thanks to the negligence on the part of the ratings agencies, so buying a CDS on your CDO full of trash was a no-lose situation. Either the hysteria keeps on trucking and you make more on the CDO than you're paying to the CDS counterparty or it doesn't and your CDS counterparty takes the loss for you.

The ratings agencies were largely duped like the rest of us. That's not to say there wasn't negligence, or even outright fraud late in the game, but the vast majority of their ratings were based on the lies of the issuers and/or the originators.

There were some sleazy aspects to their dealings, to be sure. Rating any tranche CDO2 made up of lower tranches of other CDOs AAA was the height of stupidity, malice, or both, but I don't get the sense that most of the losses came from those products.
posted by wierdo at 5:04 PM on October 4, 2011


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