Timmy's Town Hall: Lies, Lies, and More Lies (Now with 50% Less LOL)

As much I would like to insist here that Bernanke, Geithner, Obama, Summers, Romer, and any other number of politically-charged players in the economic game are a group of diabolical liars intentionally obscuring reality in favor of some made-up mark-to-Madoff opinion of our collective financial condition, I reluctantly admit that they are sort of correct. Yes, I said it. They aren't liars and fatmouths, at least not fully. I'm fine with going on record as having said as much. The economic condition has normalized to some extent, though we still don't know what lurks beyond the horizon of FASB's modified picture and the madness of government intervention. You should already know how I feel, there is no need to elaborate.

I never imagined that I would see a Fed Chairman appear on 60 Minutes with his shirt open to the second button in my lifetime. That being said, I also understand that these are men (and women) groomed for each and every performance, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Ben Bernanke is no moron. Geithner? That might be another story.

And if you believe for a single second that it is mere coincidence that a current Chairman of the Federal Reserve appeared on national television for the very first time in the Fed's (sordid) nearly 100 year history, I'd invite you to e-mail me for a quick lesson on "The Fed in Panic Mode" but frankly I don't really have time to explain such remedial concepts to you, sorry. Get with the program, it isn't like Bernanke is the sort of guy who revolutionized the position and wanted his 15 minutes in the spotlight.

Anyway. I did not watch the CNBC broadcast of Geithner's Town Hall, nor did I catch the recorded highlights. Is this because he makes my skin crawl? The physical sickness he inspires aside, no, not so much.

As I stare down Jr Deputy Accountant's one year anniversary next month I cannot help but share a key feature that has allowed me - at least in my opinion - to absorb and dissect the carefully-planned performances of our powers that be: I do not watch the videos.

I had read dozens of Jeff Lacker speeches before I actually saw the man speaking on Bloomberg. I have never heard Richard Fisher's voice. I don't know if you can actually see Janet Yellen's eye twitch when she talks about F-bills. Were it not for this little financial crisis, perhaps I could have gone my entire life without hearing Bernanke utter "liquidity" with a straight face.

Point being, I make a conscious effort to avoid the video play-by-play. Speeches? Yes, please, point me to that pretty little text.

Having spent my life as a fan of the written word, I can say here that there is a certain element that one can glean from language that can easily get lost in speech. Eyes rolling. A hand in the hair. An almost invisible nod. All of these tend to be distractions; some conscious, some simple human reaction (again, I'd say that these people are liars and cannot help but look upward when they spew the latest manufactured line but that's not giving them the credit they are due as professionals, God forbid).

So now that I've revealed my secret to decoding the nuances of Fedspeak, anyone have the full text to Geithner's Town Hall performance this evening? Try as I might, I just can't seem to dig it up. It may be coincidence that my Google skills need a tune-up or this may be entirely intentional on the part of the CNBC rats, it isn't for me to wildly speculate as to why.

I refuse to watch. Luckily (or maybe not), CNBC has the write-up:

"We understood how bad this was—how damaging this was—and we did things that people were incredibly critical of because we knew that this was getting away from us," Geithner told a special CNBC town hall meeting Thursday.

You see, kids, Geithy likes repeating himself. This could be because he wants to appear authoritative on whatever issue he is babbling on about or, as most of us suspect, it could be because he is lying on national television. Other common symptoms of lying include shifty eyes (check!), stuttering (um...), and frequent, uneasy grinning. I haven't logged that many hours of Geithner tape but can say with some amount of certainty that he fits the MO of a bold-faced bullshitter. I should know, I am one. You look beautiful today, by the way, I love what you've done with your hair, it's absolutely wonderful!

Maybe he's not repeating so much as reiterating, which would put him in the "I really want you to think I know what I'm talking about" category.

Unfortunately for Geithner in the "snake oil salesman trying to sell us economic recovery" scenario, perhaps he needs to work on a more authoritative tone.

"We have to have much stronger rules of the game in place with much stronger constraints on how much risk can take place," he said. "People are so angry. They have had this searing experience that caused so much damage and I think generally people understand that we're going to have to change things. We can't let things go back to the way they were."

Well congratulations, Dr Geithner, you have diagnosed the obvious illness! This isn't even a performance, at least in a performance we get big words and slick promises.

Asked whether the Federal Reserve and Treasury acted too slowly when the financial system began collapsing and if it intervened too much once it got involved, Geithner rejected both assertions.

"It feels unfair and unjust, but look at what happens if you take too much risk," he said. "If you indulge the sentiment that you can stall the crisis by teaching people a lesson, you're going to make the crisis dramatically worse and you're going to make it much more expensive to solve."

Who groomed Geithner for this anyway? He does know that we know that he was the one engineering the entire bailout scenario from up high on his New York Fed throne, right? He speaks as though he never got that particular memo.

Really, Timmy? Really?! Just because we were stupid enough to elect the man who put you in charge of Treasury doesn't mean we deserve to be spoken to like 2nd graders who don't know that 2 + 2 does not, in fact, equal 700 billion. It doesn't take an accountant to reconcile the fact that American taxpayers have been getting bent over long before Bear Stearns and will continue to feel that familiar push on our backsides until we wise up and revolt against pricks of Geithner's ilk.

At least Bernanke puts on a show for us. This guy? Pfft.

Thanks for the warm and fuzzies, Geithy, but you can stick them directly up your ass. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just give us our damn money back and go directly to that special place in hell reserved for men like yourself.

Now that video I would totally watch.

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


Bill from Seattle said...

Okay, Jr. Deputy Accountant,

You are perhaps one of the best writers out there on this stuff (and one of the funniest). This posting is priceless.

Anonymous said...

Hey, this post makes me feel a lot better about being a Luddite. I never ever watch speeches myself, considering them to be stage-managed crap with no return on time spent. I am a big fan of watching actions and results, not speeches. If somebody says A and does B, at least I didn't waste time listening to A!


Awesome, I was worried I was the only one.

I accidentally caught Dallas Fed's Richard Fisher on PBS one night before I fell asleep. I think I've caught maybe 2 minutes total of him speaking though I've read through more speeches than anyone should. It was bizarre watching him fidget and squirm in this too small chair that looked like it was made for a kindergartener.

Your strategy sounds better. :)