The video of the uncut interview is available at the Daily Show site, because their code is screwing up my blog. Bleh.

My take on this is one I've seen elsewhere: why does it take a comedian to ask these kinds of questions? And how does Cramer defend himself? At the end he was a whining fifth grader, asking for another chance to let him at those lying CEOs. But he kept saying, "These guys were friends of mine and they lied to me." Well, the reason Cramer bought the lies instead of doing investigative reporting is because they were friends of his.

Again and again, it comes down to access. Who tends to get the access? The people who are going to tell the best story for the companies. Who tends to get those kinds of jobs? People who are friends of the CEOs.

In the uncut version, this exchange occurs:

JIM: There's a market for it and you give it to them.

JON: There's a market for cocaine and hookers.

JIM: Well --


JON: So what?

JIM: I think those should be legalized -- no.

JON: What is the responsibility of the people who cover Wall Street?
Making sure that the people who are pushing cocaine and hookers don't have the chance to swamp the global financial market sounds like a good start to me.

Roubini: The Ponzi Economy

Combine this insight with Bernanke's stressing of savings relative to investment below:

According to Minsky and according to economic theory Ponzi agents (households, firms, banks) are those who need to borrow more to repay both principal and interest on their previous debt; i.e. Minsky’s "Ponzi borrowers" cannot service neither interest or principal payments on their debts. They are called "Ponzi borrowers" as they need persistently increasing prices of the assets they invested in to keep on refinancing their debt obligations.

By this standard media US households whose debt relative to income went from 65 percent 15 years ago to 100 percent in 2000 to 135 percent today were playing a Ponzi game.

And an economy where the total debt to GDP ratio (of households, financial firms and corporations) is now 350 percent was a Made-Off Ponzi economy. And now that home values have fallen 20% and they will fall another 20% before they bottom out and now that equity prices have fallen over 50% (and may fall further) using homes as an ATM machine and borrowing against it to finance Ponzi consumption is not feasible any more. The party is over for households, banks and non-bank highly leveraged corporations.

The bursting of the housing bubble and of the equity bubble and hedge funds bubble and private equity bubble showed that most of the "wealth" that supported the massive leverage and overspending of agents in the economy was a fake bubble-driven wealth; now that these bubble have burst it is clear that the emperor had no clothes and that we are the naked emperor. A rising bubble tide was hiding the fact that most Americans and their banks were swimming naked; and the bursting of the bubble is the low tide that shows who was naked.
I'm sitting here happy that my credit has been crap for years. I never took out any liar's loans. It scares me to even think I could have before the bubble burst. My major debts right now are student loans, which I'm repaying slowly.

It is hard to see how this economy gets better anytime soon, when the best solutions to the problem are so politically untenable or simply undoable (nationalize the banks which, among other obstacles, the FDIC could never back up right now).

Look What's Going Viral

Cat On A Hot Tin GOP

Michael Steele is now busy walking back his pro-choice comments made in an interview for GQ four days before he called Rush Limbaugh an entertainer with an ugly act. No, not his Viagra-fueled tour to a sex tourism paradise, his radio act:
I tried to present why I am pro life while recognizing that my mother had a "choice" before deciding to put me up for adoption. I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did. In my view Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided and should be repealed. I realize that there are good people in our party who disagree with me on this issue.

But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.
"The strength of the pro life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances." So the strength of their position is that they acquiesce their politics and agree that the choice movement is correct. They then work to convince women to choose life. From your lips to God's ear, Michael, but he's the only one who's going to be listening to you in a couple of weeks.

Shoe Thrower Gets Three Years

It should have been three months or time served.
The Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at then-President George W. Bush was convicted Thursday of assaulting a foreign leader and sentenced to three years in prison, lawyers said. He defiantly shouted "long live Iraq" when the sentence was read.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi's bold act in December electrified many across the Middle East who consider him a hero for expressing his anger at a president who is widely disliked for his decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

The 30-year-old journalist pleaded not guilty to the assault charge Thursday, telling the three-judge panel that "what I did was a natural response to the occupation."

Reporters and family members were then ordered out of the courtroom for the verdict, which was relayed to them by defense attorneys and a court official.
People who engage in civil disobedience should expect to serve out their terms. That's part of the point. But this sentence was excessive and meant to squash dissent in Iraq. When you squash out dissent, it festers and boils out in worse ways.

This whole incident displayed one of the very few traits I like about Dubya. He dodged the shoes and shook it off. He kept explaining to the Iraqi government that he didn't care, that he wasn't offended, and all of that was obviously in an effort to mitigate the reaction of the Iraqi government. It didn't stop them from severely beating al-Zeidi or this harsh sentence, but it could have been worse, I suppose.

No one can deny the passion in the man or the passion he aroused. A gesture that viral can't be clamped down on. You've got to err on the side of allowing free expression like this.