Friday Links: Conspiracy Check, Weak TBTF Defenses, The Road

Gary Weiss at The Big Money takes a good look at five conspiracy theories about Wall Street and ranks their plausibility.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone goes one for two here. Weiss, a longtime critic of naked-short conspiracists, writes that Taibbi’s idea that naked shorting helped kill Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns (as opposed to, say, massively leveraging bad bets with short-term financing) is a non-starter, but that his Goldman Sachs (an Audit funder)-as-vampire-squid thesis is mostly correct.

Weiss says the “Plunge Protection Team” is baloney, but goes for Tim Geithner, captured regulator and Wall Street, gas-price manipulator.

James Kwak of Baseline Scenario takes apart Jamie Dimon’s op-ed in the Washington Post, in which the J.P. Morgan CEO writes that everybody needs to back off on ending too big to fail. Kwak undermines Dimon’s assertions about economies of scale, the need for big global underwriters, and more.

Meanwhile, Felix Salmon of Reuters picks apart a defense of TBTF by the blog Economics of Contempt.

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating interview of author Cormac McCarthy. This happy talk from the writer of The Road:

The last time the caldera in Yellowstone blew, the entire North American continent was under about a foot of ash. People who’ve gone diving in Yellowstone Lake say that there is a bulge in the floor that is now about 100 feet high and the whole thing is just sort of pulsing. From different people you get different answers, but it could go in another three to four thousand years or it could go on Thursday. No one knows.

And this:

Well, I don’t know what of our culture is going to survive, or if we survive. If you look at the Greek plays, they’re really good. And there’s just a handful of them. Well, how good would they be if there were 2,500 of them? But that’s the future looking back at us. Anything you can think of, there’s going to be millions of them. Just the sheer number of things will devalue them. I don’t care whether it’s art, literature, poetry or drama, whatever. The sheer volume of it will wash it out. I mean, if you had thousands of Greek plays to read, would they be that good? I don’t think so.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.