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Gambling on Wall Street

CNBC, which is on in the other room, is doing a story on some poker player in a Las Vegas tournament, who came from a very simply background and is winning tons of cash. First, why is this a financial network story? Because Wall Street is basically a big poker game; it’s not about the economy or jobs or any of that stuff that they talk about.

As an example, John Paulson made billions betting against sub-prime mortgage paper, speculating that the housing market would self-destruct. He was right and made billions, but did that have a positive effect on the market? No. His insight, which arguably was important to help the US manage the biggest financial crisis is 80 years, had no effect, except to make him rich. If Wall Street really worked as the commentators want us to believe, his insight into the housing market should have helped avoid the crisis, but it didn’t. It’s just gambling, unrelated to the real world, except to the extent that if the Wall Street gamblers lose too many billions, the taxpayers will bail them out. Ironically, the WSJ article about Paulson says that he he has hired Alan Greenspan, who aided Paulson’s strategy by keeping interest rates abnormally low for too long. That’s more a criticism of Greenspan than Paulson. But they are clearly too cozy.

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