To be honest, we’re not quite sure what the point is, but we think it’s something about the Bush administration tricking the press into thinking the financial crisis was more serious than it was so they could bail out a Wall Street bank. It’s confused in more than one way:

The roots of Bear Stearns’ collapse and of the current crisis are actually easy to grasp: The debt from subprime mortgages, which were fantastically easy to get in the housing boom’s heady days, was securitized, and those securities were traded like stocks.

They weren’t traded like stocks. There’s no exchange you can buy and sell these things on. That was part of the problem: no one knows what the values are.

The financial system—the actual nuts and bolts of American capitalism, the mechanisms and machinations that keep us, however close to teetering off, at the top of the heap and the envy of most even during tougher times at home—was never in mortal danger from one risk-addicted investment bank and its government enablers. The coverage eventually caught up with this reality once the hyperbole had its day(s).

It’s flippant to say the financial system wasn’t endangered by the collapse of Bear Stearns, which for a couple of days looked as if it might drag down the even mightier Lehman Brothers. In bank runs and panics, the domino effect is real.

These guys (Wall Street) grease the gears of the financial system, for better or worse. Take away that WD-40 and there’s a good chance the whole thing seizes up.

Been there, read that


We’d like to be happy The New Yorker published a big take on the death of the print media at the hands of the pesky Internets. Lots of good “big think” here about this particular moment in the history of journalism.

But it gets a Debit because it’s 2008 and most of this stuff has been written (and written again) for years.

The usual suspects are here: Huffington Post (est. 2005), Atrios (est. 2002), Talking Points Memo (est. 2000). Eric Alterman, who wrote the story, even throws a bone to the conservative site Little Green Footballs, another staple of the new media-beating-old-media genre.

Eminently good article

A Credit to Forbes and Richard Epstein, the great University of Chicago legal scholar, for his column about eminent domain in Port Chester and the dangers of unchecked political power.

Yet our Supreme Court remains on a constitutional holiday. Over and over the justices blithely assume that conscientious planners acting in good faith are entitled to ample discretion in allocating the costs and benefits of our social life. Sounds great on paper, but the sorry saga of Port Chester shows that when it comes to real estate, we have a government not of laws but of politicians. In matters that they really care about, like race and free speech, judges are quite capable of seeing through airy abstractions to harsh realities. Why can’t they do the same for property rights?

That gets it just about right.

Anna Bahney is a Fellow and staff writer for The Audit