Ignorance Is Strength

Publish date:

Reuters is running a piece today on ING Credit strategists complaining that credit default swaps are being used as a scapegoat for various tin-foil sky is falling greed isn't good blame gaming. We are, frankly, somewhat sympathetic to their plight.
Why is it, I must ask, that so many otherwise intelligent seeming market actors perform an immediate flight-to-ignorance drill when markets turn against them? This is, of course, what scapegoating credit default swaps, short selling, mark-to-market accounting and "rumor mongering" is all about. A flight to ignorance and away from pricing information. You see, it is the pricing information (not the golden retriever feces sitting on the "asset" side of balance sheets) that is to blame for markets dropping. Clearly, therefore, the answer is to eliminate accurate pricing mechanisms. Simple!
I was(n't) more than a little surprised to hear John Mack decry both short selling and credit default swaps in the same paragraph on CNBC today. Apparently in times of "market stress" we prefer less accurate pricing information.
I can't count how many forehead-palms I had to perform last week listening to people blame an accounting method for the disastrous performance of financials in the last six months. Reminds me of the guy who spent four hours explaining to me why a switch back and forth from FIFO to LIFO actually changed the worth of the company reporting it.
Frankly, it's difficult not to think that the United States is headed in a very dangerous direction. Where enforced fiction passes for regulation. So ingrained is the accounting gospel that no one stops to think that accounting is only a mechanism to reveal actual performance. Changes in measurement are performance neutral. Ah, well. Iceland is going to be cheap to move to before long.
Credit derivatives used as scapegoat for crunch -ING [Reuters]