Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quotes of the day

Banks of every flavor are in business to make money for themselves. They are not in business to make money for you. If they worried mostly about making money for you, they'd likely go broke, and you'd lose every penny. This is hardly unique. Here's one way to prove it. You've probably got a friend somewhere who works for a large law firm. Ask that friend which partner bills the most. Your friend will instinctively rattle off the top few. Next ask that friend which partner has the best win-loss record in suits. Watch your friend puzzle over that one. It's not known because it doesn't matter. Law firms are in business to make money. When they win suits, that's nice, but victories aren't what get rewarded, unless they're on contingency. They'll take contingency cases only when success looks like a slam-dunk. That's OK. The client gets less reward in a trade for less risk. The strangest thing is that this supposed "unfairness" works far better than regulation. Chinese and Indians are starting to live better because they're letting go of the governmental controls, slightly, that were put in place to make sure things were "fair." "Fair" starved them for generations. Ditto for Eastern Europe. Where controls loosen, populations live better. This is consistently true. The Soviet Union collapsed. Cuba pretends to offer a peoples' paradise, but never go to Miami to count small boats fleeing the U.S. for that brutal island. Traffic there is as one-way as it was over the Berlin Wall, despite those two "fair" governments' attempts to murder escapees. ... So am I mad at Goldman? No. I just understand them better. They're out to make a buck. So am I. And they're better at it than I am.--Gary Sutton

[Goldman] lost their way, fallen for the trap of short term profits, and abandoning clients.--Anonymous hedge fund manager

It's not the same firm it was a decade ago.--Anonymous professional investor

They've now got a 'rip your eyes' out culture.--A different anonymous professional investor

Maybe [Goldman's Abacus CDO deal] was legal. But it was wholly unethical.--A different hedge fund manager

I’ve never used an ATM, so I don’t know what the fees are. It’s true, I don’t know how to use one.--Senator Ben Nelson

... can you explain any rational reason that both the C.F.T.C. and the S.E.C. exist?--Senator Bob Corker

In particular, [Seth Klarman of Baupost Group] is looking at the deluge of government interventions to prop up the financial system in the past couple of years and what those may mean down the road. And he is talking about the danger–not a certainty, merely a danger–that governments around the world will trash their currencies in a continuous free-for-all of "handouts and no taxes." The near-$1 trillion bailout in Europe is just the latest worry.--Brett Arends

If Goldman Sachs ends up paying a billion dollars as punishment for misleading investors in the Abacus deal, what should Washington pay for misleading the American people? Given the utter failure of the Obama administration’s $75 billion mortgage modification program (a.k.a. the HAMP), it’s worth a thought.--Evan Newmark

These scientists jump to an unscientific conclusion. Nothing in economics (or any other science) suggests that energy purchases and sales are efficient and appropriate only, or even chiefly, when buyers reside in the same jurisdiction as sellers. I’ll bet, for example, that each member of the Union of Concerned Scientists imports nearly 100 percent of his or her household’s energy from suppliers located outside of that household’s county. Should this fact cause us concern? Would energy be supplied and used more efficiently or appropriately if each American used only energy produced within the county where he or she resides? Or – even more in keeping with the spirit of the Union’s notion – if each American household used only energy produced by that household? Of course not.--Don Boudreaux

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