Random Thoughts

American Avoidance of Truth and Reality - A Fatal Flaw

I read Richard Ney in the sixties and was impressed by his intelligence, integrity, perceptiveness and scholarly research on the workings of the NYSE in general and the specialist system in particular. In his cynical analysis, he made two critically important statements, viz. the stock exchange is a unique place, where if the privileged insiders wish to have a sale, of difficult to unload assets of stock, contrary to the fundamental tenets of economics, but consistent with the evolutionary psyche of humanity, they raise the prices and suck in cupid fools to part with their money by the irresistible lure of greed. He then went on to indict this so called fair capitalist approach as a license to steal from the gullible public, as evinced by a 300% return on capital by specialist firms and the amusing anecdote of the mob boss Lucky Luciano, lamenting when he became aware of the workings of the NYSE, that nobody had informed him of this legal racket.

The other bastion of free market capitalism, also known as the NASDAQ, has a litany of consent decrees under the legal term 'nolo contendre', and has turned out to be an even greater license to steal from the ignorant and greedy public. The shameless fraudulent plunder of assets by insiders, to the detriment of employees and shareholders, is now the prevalent modus operandi in America, in spite of the publicity and moral repugnance preached from rooftops by the corrupt, conniving and colluding American media.

The headlines are rife with the sordid sagas of unethical insider trading, the conflict of interest of analysts and the blatant accounting fraud perpetrated by a cozy conspiracy of corporate executives, beholden board members and complacent, conniving auditors, all unencumbered by any fiduciary responsibility, ethics or shame. The loud proclamations of open disclosure from these neo-converts are a smokescreen to entice the infinitely ignorant and avaricious public back into this three-card monte. It camouflages the real evil by willingly exposing the old, tired shenanigans of the trickster, which won't work with the newly alert, but still stupid mug, while still burying the undiscovered tricks to use at convenience. They can be jettisoned after discovery, to advertise the newly reformed piety of a bunch of hungry psychopaths, with an obsession for money and power, beyond rational or decent needs.

This is not some pet peeve, overwhelming obsession, chant of visceral animosity of a frustrated fanatic, but the experienced judgment of a contemplating cynic, who has for long and often, drunk the heady wine of affluence and savored the twilight of its charming intoxication and its sickening hangovers and has chosen wisely if not well, to live in the light of reason rather than in the shadow of instinct. This was not meant to be a philosophical rant or confession to cleanse my soul, so let me get back to the matter at hand and enumerate the mumbo jumbo still perpetrated to hoodwink the public in spite of all the shouting from rooftops of reformed sinners and the proselytizing of pious pontiffs.

There is a crying need for a ban on program trading by those retail brokerage firms, which have the privilege of upgrading or downgrading stocks publicly, for who knows whether their program trades, precede their profound proclamations. In fact those firms, which serve retail customers should be prohibited from serving as underwriters, specialists or trading on their own account. A similar prohibition should apply to other firms with a false claim to the high road and they should be prevented from having any financial interest in a specialist firm or market maker. This same restriction should apply to the so-called firms, appealing to day traders or gunslingers and they should have no incestuous or lucrative financial relationship with any market makers. Every money manager, who is certainly not above suspicion, should have to publicly declare within one day, the sale of any stock in the portfolio, if he or she has touted that stock in any interview with any media.

It is absolutely true that human nature is the antithesis of socialism and communism and is based on greed, selfishness and acquisitiveness, but this does not mean that its unrestrained exercise is good for humanity and society as a whole. The tragedy of the born again capitalists, who swear by the gospel of capitalism of Adam Smith and hail Milton Friedman, as a latter day saint, is that that they do not realize that laissez faire capitalism works, when there is enough competition and even then by the invisible hand, in spite of the lack of benignity of the greedy entrepreneur. It however, becomes a conspiracy against the general public, when capitalists are permitted to collude and there is no restriction on monopolies, which are often the endpoint of all unrestrained free markets. The penchant for power and pelf colors capitalism and mankind, just as some of the bitterness of Marxism is tainted by the personal failures of Marx, which must have affected his philosophy. Unfortunately the born again disciples with selective scotomas in perception and their inebriated arrogance of capitalism are unaware of their faulty vision and thought, which lead to unethical behavior to the detriment of civil society.

Behind the pretended and contrived facade of open markets, there are a lot of self-serving sharks, fanatics and fools. Others hide under the darkness of ignorant jingoism and expediently exploit the masses for selfish greed, proving that patriotism is often the last resort of scoundrels.    


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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