Bringing UP the Rear – Neil Lipschutz, Managing Editor, Dow Jones Newswire
I used to read the Wall Street Journal all the time, maybe even every day for a few years, back in the days when Yuppies were king, BMWs reigned supreme, and I was still stupid enough to pay $300 a year to carry around a grey piece of plastic from America Express that I idiotically referred to as being â€śplatinum.â€ť
These past three years, wellâ€¦ not so much.Â Itâ€™s not just because a gaggle of insensitive and insufferable cheerleaders for the banks write the newspaper, although that certainly is a big part of it.Â Itâ€™s mostly because the paperâ€™s views are entirely predictable, and unreservedly smugâ€¦ no theyâ€™re smug2.Â Weâ€™re not even having a recession in the Wall Street Journal, its positively surreal.
So, Iâ€™m clicking around through my news alerts yesterday, and I see this headline: â€śWe Canâ€™t Ignore Housing Anymore.â€ťÂ Huh?Â Canâ€™t ignore itâ€¦ anymore?Â Well, why the heck not?Â Itâ€™s been going swimmingly, thus far.Â Why quit on a winner?
Neal Lipschutz, who first joined the company in 1982, is today senior vice president and managing editor of Dow Jones Newswires, wrote the article, and according to his bio, he â€śdirectly supervised the news staffs in the Americas and served as chief arbiter of and spokesman for news policies, coverage and standards on a global basis.â€ť
And today, Neal has “global responsibility for Dow Jones Newswires editorial.” Â So, Neal is a man with â€śglobal responsibility,â€ť and Iâ€™m almost positive that Iâ€™ve never even met a man with global responsibility. Â Apparently, Neal has written articles that have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, The Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly, The New York Times, and The Baltimore Sun among others.
So, at first I thoughtâ€¦ Neal is Journalism Man, but then I started reading what he had to say and I quickly realizedâ€¦Â nope, heâ€™s just another Lipschutz.Â Hereâ€™s how he kicked off his article on how we canâ€™t ignore housingâ€¦
â€śIn the end, we canâ€™t dodge housing.
The U.S. recession and financial crisis of the late aughts began with housing and the scourge of subprime mortgages, which were so messily dispensed. It spread to Europe and its banks.
For a few years we tried to work around the paralyzed housing sector â€“ the drip, drip of steadily lower home prices, the unresolved status of the wounded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac â€” and it seemed to be working.â€ť
Obviously, either Neal has the cognitive abilities of a fruit loop soaked in milk, or heâ€™s just disturbed. Â What do you suppose he thinks â€śspreadâ€ť to Europe and its banks?Â I mean, I donâ€™t think loans can spreadâ€¦ loans are not germs or virusesâ€¦ they donâ€™t just spread.Â Someone has to spread them, right Neal?Â And letâ€™s assume youâ€™re right and within the mortgage-backed securities and CDOs that were sold to Eurobanks, there were a few loans leveraged to the hilt.Â So, who do you suppose might have taken them to Europe, Neal?Â Because it wasnâ€™t me Neal.
And then he writes:
â€śNow that worries mount about an ever more likely return to recession amid a significant equities markets decline, we are hearing again about housing.â€ť
Hearing â€śagainâ€ť about housing?Â Who’s hearing again about housing?
I wouldnâ€™t worry too much about you hearing anything, Neal.Â I just donâ€™t think youâ€™ve heard anything in maybe twenty years.Â I think you should consider donating your head to the particle physicists at CERNâ€™s laboratories as theyâ€™re studying the beginnings of the universe and are apparently trying to find the densest matter on earth.
And Neal continues to offendâ€¦
â€śThereâ€™s the foreclosure mess, the underwater mortgage mess, the tight mortgage lending standards and all the rest. Thereâ€™s displaced construction workers. Thereâ€™s consumers unwilling to spend as their perceived real estate wealth evaporates.
Thereâ€™s housing, traditionally the leader out of recession, still generally in decline, and harder to ignore.â€ť
Itâ€™s only my perceived wealth thatâ€™s been evaporating?Â Well, thatâ€™s certainly a relief.Â Only my perceived wealth.Â Well, thank goodness for that.Â Hey, hereâ€™s an idea, since it was only perceived wealth, how about you write an article telling the bankers to give everyone perceived principle reductions?Â Youâ€™d be in favor of that right, Neal?
You want to know what Iâ€™m thinking about right now.Â Iâ€™m thinking about how much fun it would be to watch you perceive my size 12 boot kick your hard to ignore mass.
Nealâ€™s also got some answers to our housing market problems.Â Hereâ€™s what he says we should consider in order to fix the housing mess heâ€™s having a hard time ignoringâ€¦
â€śâ€¦ more people who are current on their mortgage payments have to be able to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of rates near 4%.
That savings for many would go into additional spending, a stimulative measure, and would boost their economic psychology, which is important. Even if they used the savings to pay down their own debt it would do long-term good.â€ť
What kind of a word is â€śstimulative,â€ť Neal?Â Let me guessâ€¦ were you a triple-digit SAT score kind of guy?Â You know, math and verbal combined, whatâ€¦ about 770?Â And then straight to the local community college to get your Associates in North American Egotistical Studies or possibly Recumbent Illiteracy?
How did you ever get a job as an editor at Dow Jones Newswires using words like â€śstimulative?â€ťÂ Either the barâ€™s just not that high, orâ€¦ hang onâ€¦ I know how you must have done itâ€¦ maybe I should be calling you Kneel?
Okay, Iâ€™m done.Â Thereâ€™s no point in going on about Kneel anyway.Â If Iâ€™m not going to get to kick his callous, insensitive and entirely ignorant behind around a parking lot, then whatâ€™s the point?Â I suppose I could challenge him to a battle of wits, but that wouldnâ€™t be right either because heâ€™s unarmed.
And Neal closes by sayingâ€¦
â€śGiven political realities, itâ€™s hard to imagine much of a fiscal push, in housing or elsewhere.â€ť
You know, Nealâ€™s right about those â€śpolitical realities.â€ť Â The reason weâ€™re not solving the foreclosure crisis isnâ€™t because of economic or fiscal realitiesâ€¦ what has doomed us to suffer the economic pain of a deflationary spiral are only â€śpolitical realities,â€ť or in other wordsâ€¦ what people thinkâ€¦ just thoughts.
At least half the country doesnâ€™t understand that it is a crisis.Â They think that irresponsible people bought homes they couldnâ€™t afford.Â They do not think it right or fair to bail out those that made irresponsible decisions.Â But thinking something doesnâ€™t make it true. Ours is not a housing crisis, it is a credit crisis.Â And the credit markets froze in 2007, not because of borrowers, but because of bankers.
Those that oppose saving their neighbor from foreclosure are costing the rest of us, and themselves, trillions of dollars in aggregate losses.Â But the people in foreclosure have already lost.Â And by forcing those losses, everyone else loses too.Â Only by saving them from further loss do we save the rest of us.
And as we fiddleâ€¦ Rome burns.
Are you listening, Neal?