Friday, November 26, 2010

Inside Job

If you have not seen the movie Inside Job yet, run out now and see it. This is an incredibly important movie.

You will be incredibly annoyed though, I guarantee it, and want to jump into the movie and kick people's asses - especially the asses of Lawrence Summers and Glenn Hubbard.

Nobody had to tell me what an idiot Lawrence Summers was - I knew it since his "women are less good at math/science" speech at Harvard when he was its president. I've blogged about that several times, most relevantly in October 2008.

But the biggest asshole award goes to Glenn Hubbard. According to Wiki:
A supply-side economist, he was instrumental in the design of the 2003 Bush Tax cuts[7] -- an issue which split the economics profession on ideological lines, with those leaning left opposed and those leaning right supportive. See Economists' statement opposing the Bush tax cuts.

The script of Inside Job is available from the movie's own web site: Here is a section with Glenn Hubbard - btw the narrator is Matt Damon:
GLENN HUBBARD: I've taught at Northwestern and Chicago, Harvard and Columbia.

NARRATOR: Glenn Hubbard is the dean of Columbia Business School, and was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush.

02:24:44.16

CHARLES FERGUSON: Do you think the financial services industry has too much, uh, political power in the United States?

GLENN HUBBARD: I don't think so, no. You certainly, you certainly wouldn't get that impression by the drubbing that they regularly get, uh, in Washington.

02:24:59.12

NARRATOR: Many prominent academics quietly make fortunes while helping the financial industry shape public debate and government policy. The Analysis Group, Charles River Associates, Compass Lexecon, and the Law and Economics Consulting Group manage a multi-billion-dollar industry that provides academic experts for hire.

02:25:20.04

Two bankers who used these services were Ralph Ciofi and Matthew Tannin, Bear Stearns hedge fund managers prosecuted for securities fraud. After hiring The Analysis Group, both were acquitted.

Glenn Hubbard was paid 100,000 dollars to testify in their defense.

02:25:39.06

CHARLES FERGUSON: Do you think that the economics discipline has, uh, a conflict of
interest problem?

GLENN HUBBARD: I'm not sure I know what you mean.

CHARLES FERGUSON: Do you think that a significant fraction of the economics discipline, a number of economists, have financial conflicts of interests that in some way might call into question or color –

GLENN HUBBARD: Oh, I see what you're saying. I doubt it. You know, most academic economists, uh, you know, aren't wealthy businesspeople.

02:26:05.07

NARRATOR: Hubbard makes 250,000 dollars a year as a board member of Met Life, and was formerly on the board of Capmark, a major commercial mortgage lender during the bubble, which went bankrupt in 2009. He has also advised Nomura Securities, KKR
Financial Corporation, and many other financial firms.

But to get the full flavor of exactly how much contempt Glenn Hubbard has for anybody who would dare question any possible conflicts of interest he might have:

02:31:00.29

CHARLES FERGUSON: I'm looking at your resume now. It looks to me as if the majority of your outside activities are, uh, consulting and directorship arrangements with the financial services industry. Is that, would you not agree with that characterization?

02:31:15.10

GLENN HUBBARD: No, to my knowledge, I don't think my consulting clients are even on my CV, so –

CHARLES FERGUSON: Uh, who are your consulting clients?

GLENN HUBBARD: I don't believe I have to discuss that with you.

CHARLES FERGUSON: Okay. Uh, uh –

GLENN HUBBARD: Look, you have a few more minutes, and the interview is over.

02:31:39.09

CHARLES FERGUSON: Do they include other financial services firms?

GLENN HUBBARD: Possibly.

CHARLES FERGUSON: You don't remember?

GLENN HUBBARD: This isn't a deposition, sir. I was polite enough to give you time; foolishly, I now see. But you have three more minutes. Give it your best shot.


Why should the mighty Glenn Hubbard have to discuss such things with a peon?

transcript of NPR interview with filmmaker Charles Ferguson

Well this is an unusual situation for me - I want to see three movies released within a 3-month period. Inside Job, Fair Game which I plan to see on Tuesday and the remake of True Grit which comes out in early December. Both Inside Job and True Grit feature Matt Damon, who is looking mighty fine as a Texas ranger:

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