New York Times, Gretchen Morgenson Dazzle Us With Their Ignorance (Yet Again)

7 Mar

Earlier today, Twitter user (and good follow!) Taste_Arbitrage alerted us – his followers, that is – an egregious error in Gretchen’s latest article, wherein she attempts to inform us that – news alert – municipalities and other government entities dabble with derivatives.  Apparently, she’s been hiding the past 16 years since the Orange County debacle, as her article presents this information like its some sort of secret conspiracy, which it obviously is isn’t.

Gretchen explains:

Like the credit default swaps that hid Greece’s obligations, the instruments weighing on our municipalities were brought to us by the creative minds of Wall Street.

As Taste_Arbitrage (and others, including Felix Salmon) noticed quite immediately, Greece’s current predicament has been described largely as the result of Currency swaps, not credit default swaps.  Even if she was attempting to compare the two types of derivatives, that’s still a ridiculous claim.  Saying the former is like the latter is like saying a top fuel dragster is like a monster truck; sure, they both have engines and four wheels, but no one would EVER confuse the two.

If the FAIL stopped there, it’d be one thing, as Gretchen has a long and well-documented(by myself, and others) history of completely mangling – intentionally or otherwise, it matters not – even the most simple financial concepts.  Unfortunately for the Times, it gets worse.  Much, much worse.  The hyperlink on “Credit Default Swaps” at the beginning of the second paragraph in Gretchen’s article links to the Times’ “home page” of sorts for all things CDS.  Here, we find further evidence that the New York Times Business team (or at least the editors) are completely and utterly out of their league.

These instruments played a pivotal – and controversial – role in the financial crisis in the United States. Now, these swaps are emerging as one of the most powerful and mysterious forces in the crisis shaking Europe.

One word, and one word alone captures reaction upon finding this page: Facepalm.  Taste_Arbitrage actually put my confusion/outrage quite succinctly, when I pointed out the above, pondering on the New York Times Business section:

Sweet fancy moses, it’s like a bunch of monkeys banging on keyboards over there

Seriously, how THE HELL does anyone with half a brain, let alone anyone who actually works in Finance, read this drivel anymore?  For crying out loud, even the New York Post has better Financial reporting!  With apologies to Phil Falcone and Carlos Helu, someone needs to put the Grey Lady out of her misery already.

Somehow, I mustered the strength to go back to Gretchen’s article, and SHOCKER, what do I find but the usual smothering of populist pandering for which she’s become famous:

Taxpayers should be outraged, but to be angry you have to be informed — and few taxpayers may even know that the complicated arrangements exist.

Care to make some more vague, uninformed blanket statements, Gretch?  First, how about telling us, in your infinite wisdom, with whom taxpayers should be outraged.  I’m going to venture a guess she’d suggest blaming the banks and other firms that sold or otherwise advised the buyers, since as far as I’ve been able to tell, the term “Caveat emptor” is completely absent from Gretchen’s vocabulary.

I’d highlight the rest of the inanity that follows, but frankly, I don’t have that much time on my hands.

I hope the rest of the Financial Blogosphere, nay, other MSM outlets jump on this issue so that maybe, finally, Gretchen Morgenson (and to a slightly lesser extent, many of the other NY Times Business reporters) is outed – to the general population – as either a total hack, or spineless anti-Wall Street shill with zero journalistic integrity.

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34 Responses to “New York Times, Gretchen Morgenson Dazzle Us With Their Ignorance (Yet Again)”

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  2. dave March 8, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    Just because some NYT reporter can keep financial transactions straight doesn’t mean JPMorgan Chase should be protected from pitchforks, if that’s what you’re implying.

    • Anal_yst March 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

      That’s arguably the most ridiculous non sequitur I’ve encountered in recent memory.

      Why, exactly, should anyone be taking pitchforks to JPM? Please, enlighten us!

  3. Jacknastiest March 8, 2010 at 6:02 am #

    Gee, you dickshines who know the difference sure did a great fuckin’ job of it, didn’t ya?

    • Anal_yst March 8, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

      Dude, spare me. Since 2008q1 I’ve been calling writing about all the nonsense going on, beyond that, there wasn’t much, if anything I could have done, considering I’m not bank executive with the power to have stopped doing retarded sh*t before said sh*t hit the fan.

  4. mrpink March 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    I totally agree. It’s not picking on someone when they have continued to make the same basic/beginnner mistakes several times over the past couple years…

    -mrp/chibondking… ps add me on twitter, foo.

  5. Anal_yst March 8, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    @Jacknastiest

    Jobs I’ve never held, in no particular order:

    1. Derivatives trader
    2. Mortgage broker
    3. Structured Finance (any role within that field)
    4. Ratings Agency analyst (although I almost worked for one as sh*t started to hit the fan, but they couldn’t afford me, and I was amazed how, since the job was in financial institutions, the senior staff didn’t seem worried at all, but that’s another story for another time).
    5. Municipal Finance (any)
    6. Bank Executive (i.e. at any level within my firm to have put an end to detrimental practices before it was too late)

    So, while I appreciate the colorful language, your comment is pretty far off-base. The most I could have done (and in some cases
    did, and still do) is try to explain things as they really are and correct all of the disinformation propagated by the likes of hacks like Gretchen.

    For reference, going back to March, 2008, here’s a few examples:

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2008/03/we-dont-need-a.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2008/03/pointing-out-th.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2008/04/lessons-from-af.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2008/05/merrill-lynch-i.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2008/04/lehman-brothers.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2008/05/chrysler-guaran.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2008/05/this-week-in-du.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2009/05/how-not-to-learn-from-history.html

    http://1-2knockout.typepad.com/12_knockout/2009/05/im-scared-hold-me.html

    Forgive the self-fellation, but I could do this all day long. If you’re looking for blame here, you’re definitely looking in the wrong place.

  6. Sakisaki6 March 9, 2010 at 2:45 am #

    Gretchen is the name I gave my German-brand GPS. As in shut up, Gretchen, no, I can’t do a U-turn, Gretchen, thanks for telling me way too late about that exit, Gretchen et cetera.

    Just sayin’….

  7. nonesuch1001 March 15, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    Alas, every financial crisis must have a witch-hunt against speculators, in 2008 there was the spate of short-selling bans and now for greece there’s the CDS nonsense. Just to bad that a journalist let herself to get pulled into the politicians game. Here’s my take http://nonesuch1001.wordpress.com/

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