-George W. Bush
With ole Bushy heading out the door, it's nice to see that he can get his words “unstuck” from time to time. This quote was from his speech at the Manhattan Institute earlier this week. I doubt he wrote it ... but it made me think of "The New Reality", nevertheless.
For any capitalist, it’s very hard not to appreciate the first part of the quote. If you genuinely want to be the change that you see needed in this world, you’re going to need the economic freedoms associated with a free market system. However, I would not mistake this “want” as one that Republicans alone can reserve as a special part of their “fiscally conservative” club membership. This is not the exclusive “want” of centrist Democrat capitalists either. This has always been the “want” of American Capitalists.
I have a problem with the assumptions imbedded in the second part of the quote. There is a gross duration mismatch here between rhetoric and reality. Unfortunately, this is going to be the hallmark of the Bush Administration’s failed management process. From the outset, they have managed the US Financial system reactively rather than proactively. Paulson and Co. are reacting to “a few months” of crisis, rather than having proactively prepared for it.
By my math, 60 years ago was 1948. You see, I take the President of the United States words quite literally… and there were a lot of American Capitalist battles won/lost in between then and now that laid the foundation for what we realists call “economic cycles.” Not all of these cycles have been good in the last 60 years. Not all of them bad. “The record is unmistakable.”
Hank Paulson’s last capitalist title was CEO of Goldman Sachs. While it would be hard to believe that the inspiration of his move to head the US Treasury was so he would not have to pay taxes (selling over $500M in GS stock, tax free), it would be even harder to believe that he left GS fully understanding the monster he helped create. Most of the financial leverage in our economic system was born out of the broker dealer SEC rules changing in 2004 (Bush de-regulation) which allowed firms like Goldman and Lehman to lever their brains out. Hank “The Market Tank” Paulson was one of the architects of this economic disaster.
The structural foundations of this “crisis” didn’t come out of nowhere a “few months ago”. It was only 28 months ago, in fact, that Bush signed off on Paulson’s Captaincy. As another Bush Captain, Donald Rumsfeld, proved in the end, managing crises that you help perpetuate is a loser’s game. Being unprepared is as much a capital mistake as being unaware.
It’s time to get real here. It’s time to position this economy for “The New Reality.” If American Capitalists seek being a part of it, they better demand wholesale changes to our economic leadership lineup, immediately.
Keith R. McCullough
CEO / Chief Investment Officer