Poor Richard Cohen –maybe literally!– has finally written an immensely satisfying column.
See, our favorite punching bag has decided, unlike everybody else, that Jon Stewart was terribly, terribly unfair to poor Jim Cramer, and that's because he was so busy looking in his couch for spare change that he utterly, completely missed Stewart's point that there were, like, a zillion signs that companies like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Citigroup were trading on a dangerously warped and distended bubble. Hilariously, he tries to gin up some sorrow for the poor, victimized bankers and insurance men:
Or take Richard Fuld. He is the former chairman of Lehman Brothers, which, as we all know, is no more. He lost about $1 billion.
Or take Citigroup's former chairman, Sanford Weill. He lost about $500 million.
Or take all the good people at Bear Stearns, the company Cramer adored almost to the bitter end. They went down with their stock.
So sad! I'm applying an eyedropper of glycerine to my face right this very minute. Any other high-profile victims we should feel sorry for? Why yes:
I give you one other name: Richard Cohen. He who writes this column had some of his (extremely) hard-earned retirement funds in AIG stock. This was because I was a cautious investor, and what could be safer than an insurance behemoth? Who knew that in faraway London, a division of AIG was fooling around in stuff that virtually cratered the whole company? Not my broker. Not me. Not even Greenberg.
Ah yes, once again it's all about Richard Cohen. As usual. And this makes Jon Stewart a horrible meanypants because he's blaming the media, a group which includes... Richard Cohen! Unfair!
Never mind that Stewart was specifically blaming, not the media, but specifically the corporate financial media which was too busy sucking up to their cocktail party cohabitants to offer more intensive scrutiny of their activities. Cohen offers a bizarre example:
It does not take cable TV to make a bubble. CNBC played no role in the Tulip Bubble that peaked, as I recall, in 1637, or in the Great Depression of 1929-41. It is the zeitgeist that does this -- the psychological version of inertia: the belief that what's happening will continue to happen.
So true! CNBC was available only in isolated areas of Utrecht during the tulipomania! And you know who was primarily responsible for expanding the flower bubble in the 1630s? The brokers, bankers, and speculators. They spread the word through skillful use of the pamphleteers and publishers; in other words, the 17th century version of the financial news media.
Next week: Richard Cohen defends Bernard Madoff, who he once met at a fabulous party.
Also: does anybody –anybody at all– doubt that Cohen wears sock suspenders?
UPDATE: Ever wonder about the cliché of a poor person wearing a barrel? More info, kind of, here and maybe here and here, or, more likely, it probably just comes from the tales of Diogenes, who supposedly lived in a barrel.