Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Very Clueless New York Times

Today's NYT carries a story reported by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Diana B. Henriques, Edmund L. Andrews and Joe Nocera. It was written by Nocera. There was additional reporting by Jenny Anderson, Nelson D. Schwartz, Eric Dash, Louise Story, Michael M. Grynbaum, Carter Dougherty and Vikas Bajaj.

Written in the style of a cheap paperback thriller, it recounts the recent activity by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other government officials in dealing with the current financial crisis. Yet none of these reporters reported on the key elements behind the crisis. For starters, not a word about the poorly structured balance sheets of the firms in trouble. Simply put, the financial incompetents borrowed short-term and lent out long term--a mismatch of assets and liabilities that was an accident waiting to happen. Properly matched assets and liabilities would have gone a long way toward eliminating the runs on most of the investment banks.

Botching this, the NYT reporting gets worse. They report a ridiculous statement made by Bernanke:

That Thursday evening, however, time was of the essence. In a hastily convened meeting in the conference room of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the two men presented, in the starkest terms imaginable, the outline of the $700 billion plan to Congressional leaders. “If we don’t do this,” Mr. Bernanke said, according to severl participants, “we may not have an economy on Monday.

But fail to point out that while Bernanke is begging Congress for $700 billion, he has authority at the Federal Reserve to buy as much of whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Indeed, when the House failed to pass the bill on Monday, the Fed went in and pumped $630 billion into the system.

Ultimately, this crisis is about the Fed creating an economy dependent on more and more new money pumped into the system, and that the Fed stopped creating new money approximately four months ago. As we warned during the entire period here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Am I justified in calling this the VERY CLUELESS NYT? I think so.

NYT put 11 reporters on this story and they all missed the mismatched balance sheets of the institutions in trouble, they failed to point out that while Bernanke is begging for $700 billion, the Fed can print $700 billion everyday if it wants to, and they failed to point out the immediate cause of the crisis--Bernanke's crashing of the money supply over the last four months.

-Robert Wenzel

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