Blatancy of MF Global Crime Exposes Absurd American Morality

April 25, 2012

There are two kinds of writers on the Wall Street beat, those who describe the fraud and theft and graft that’s robbing the real economy out of existence, and those who mindlessly repeat absurd lies designed the conceal the biggest crimes in the history of the universe.

Matt Taibbi is the best Wall Street crime reporter. In piece after piece, Taibbi cuts through the bloviated web of exculpatory verbiage and goes straight to the crimes. This web is vast matrix of scientific-sounding horseshit terminology like “synthetic CDO squared” and assorted nonsense, which requires thousands of words to get to the nut, even for Taibbi.

But Taibbi is a patient soldier in the war against Really Expensive Bullshit. He understands that it takes exhausting work just to make light bulbs go off over the heads of the uninitiated.

What distinguishes the following piece by Taibbi isn’t that the crime is small, because it is massive—a $1.6 billion larceny—it’s that the crime is just common, garden-variety theft:

This is not complicated at all. This is just stealing. You owe money, you don’t have the cash to cover it, and so you take money belonging to someone else to cover your debts.

And yet this particular Wall Street crime, committed as it was by the head of a Fed Primary Dealer (the top of the financial food chain), occasions the very same disbelieving public stupor that’s brought on by descriptions of complicated multi-party frauds.

And herein lies a little-known truth about Americans: it’s not that we’re stupid, it’s that we’re victims of a morality play in which really rich dudes can’t be criminals just because they’re rich—no matter how evil they are and no matter how huge the pile of incriminating evidence they leave behind. Presented without further adieu is Exhibit A in this regard…