Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Barbara Walters Understands the Fed Better Than Tyler Durden

Tyler Durden approvingly quotes this absurd screed from Merrill Lynch analyst Harley Bassman:
Greenspan’s error in judgment, conceived from his Ayn Rand based view of the World, was not that people would act in their own self-interest (they do), but rather that removing all the rules was a required pre-condition for this to occur. It is not a mutually exclusive situation where you can only have personal freedom/responsibility with no rules. On the contrary, real freedom is the ability to act on your own within the confines of the rules. Without a set of rules, there cannot be a game, only chaos. Hopefully, the new Financial regulations being discussed will focus upon creating rules that motivate behavior that benefits the public good as opposed to focusing on micro-managing the actions of the individual. This concept is certainly the basis for the old saying: “Good fences make good neighbors”.
Where should I began with this absurdity?

1. Rules are different from government regulations.

2. The implication here is that deregulation caused the current financial crisis. Do Burden and Bassman not realize that without Greenspan, as government central banker, driving interest rates to an absurdly low level, there would have been no money to fuel the financial crisis? This has nothing to do with Randian philosophy. Hell, Barbara Walters even understands this. In her autobiography, Audition: A Memoir, she reports that while she was dating Greenspan they had heated debates over how he could accept the position of Federal Reserve chairman, when it stood for everything he was supposedly intellectually against. She said that the Fed was the most powerful government agency in the world and it was outrageous for Greenspan to run it. Greenspan was not going there as an Ayn Rand acolyte, he was going there as a power seeking, power hungry man, and Barbara Walters knew it.

3. The new regulations are simply creating a new power center for the evil ones to capture and kill off true competition.

4. “Good fences make good neighbors” is about private property, not government created regulations.

5. The continued promotion of the idea that deregulation caused the current crisis is the cover the oligarchs are using to create more regulation for their benefit. Durden and Bassman are simply useful dupes spreading this propaganda.


  1. Wenzel,

    Thank you for drawing public attention to the absurdities of the ZeroHedge Solution(tm). I see this as a subset of Rolfe Winklerism... these are people who are absolutely obsessed with what a financial system is "supposed" to do (ie, when the markets aren't failing) and even though they see government regulations are the cause of the problem, they believe a well-thought out government regulation could be the solution. They lack principles.

    I've been complaining about Durden to friends privately in e-mails recently and it's nice to see you agree with me and see these absurdities as problematic to settling the debate.

    These people are adrift in a pragmatist swamp of their own making.

  2. Saying that Greenspan is pursuing "Ayn Rand"-ish thinking is the best sign of people never having read Ayn Rand, only having read what is usually written to bash Ayn Rand.

    The objectivist movement, among others, have written rather long essays on the topic of Alan Greenspans intellectual treason - in retrospect the fact that a former friend of Rand started fraternizing with the government should have been a sign that he would cause disaster. High intelligence coupled with the abandonment of ideals is dangerous.

    And I'll have to agree with TC that Durden & Co are of the pragmatic kind - but as aggressive opinionators they seem very successful. Let them rally the masses and hope someone else cleans up the mess, sort of.

  3. This may be a stupid comment, but is it well known that "Tyler Durden" is the name of Brad Pitt's character in "Fight Club" where they destroy the financial industry? Is that a pseudonym or is that the guy's real name?

  4. I agree with Conant and do appreciate Wenzel's insight.

    But if one of the most successful advocates of individualism and capitalism (Rand) can't persuade thru ideas and words, to which Greenspan was most directly exposed, that he should decline the offer of a powerful government position, of what use are words?

  5. Efinancial : How very un-Randian of you to assume that simple because the weak hack that turned out to be Greenspan threw ideology out the window for the cheap thrill of running the US economy into the ground means everyone else would do so.

    Not everyones mind is for sale.