Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fairly Bad Or Very Bad

Me and my friends aways make fun of sports coverage because most of it is so stupid. You have these hyperactive thyroid cases in two thousand dollar suits making jackasses out of themselves by dispensing “expert” analysis that amounts to little more than this:

“You know, J.B., if Drew Brees has a good game and New Orleans can stop the run, I think the Saints have a good chance to win.”

“I agree one-hundred percent, Howie. On the other hand, if the Falcons can disrupt Drew Brees’ passing game and establish the run against that tough Saint’s defense, they have a good chance at pulling off the upset.”

In other words, if the Saints have a good game, they just might win. If they don’t, they just might not. On the other hand, if the Falcons have a good game, they just might win. If they don’t, well, they just might not.

Expert analysis, see? And it’s squished between hours and hours of the crassest, most vulgar commercialism under the sun.

But let’s not be too hard on our jock brothers and sisters. After all, in the last analysis (pun intended), they at least provide entertainment. But what about those Atlases on Wall Street who get paid the big bucks to forecast trends in the economy? Are their analyses any more sophisticated than some no-neck loudmouth on FOX Sports or ESPN? Let’s go straight to the top — Goldman Sachs — and see:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the U.S. economy is likely to be “fairly bad” or “very bad” over the next six to nine months.

“We see two main scenarios,” analysts led by Jan Hatzius, the New York-based chief U.S. economist at the company, wrote in an e-mail to clients. “A fairly bad one in which the economy grows at a 1 1/2 percent to 2 percent rate through the middle of next year and the unemployment rate rises moderately to 10 percent, and a very bad one in which the economy returns to an outright recession.”

Things are going to be fairly bad or very bad. Somebody give that man a bonus. Goldman Sachs can’t afford to lose that kind of talent to a competitor.

I’m no expert, but that forecast strikes me as a little less than, um, percipient. I know laid-off electricians and carpenters who could have told you that. Hell, I could have told you that, and the only financial market I’m an expert at predicting is my own dwindling bank account. Our analysis is just as keen as Mr. Jan Hatzius’, but we don’t get six, seven, or eight figure salaries and a chance to go on CNBC to receive virtual fellatio from Maria Bartiromo. I know people who have lost their homes and have been forced to live in their cars. Others have resorted to camping out in the woods. A friend of mine just had to go on food stamps for the first time in his life (and he had to go through all the horrors of bureaucratic hell for that). These aren’t welfare cheats and slackers. These are people in skilled trades who’ve worked their entire lives. Now they are literally destitute. Do you know what they tell me when I talk to them? “Things are partly shitty with a chance of fucked-up!”

Or, in the more genteel language of Mr. Hatzius, “fairly bad” or “very bad,” like sports analysis or economic forecasts.

Funny isn’t it? Wall Street bankers sit back and look at our shitty economy as if it’s the result of some unpredictable natural process, the ineluctable will of God. They certainly didn’t have anything to do with it. They’re just passive observers. Things might get fairly bad or very bad, who knows? Shrug. But threaten to raise their taxes and impose regulations on them, and suddenly they become the omnipotent masters of the universe. They invest in the economy and create jobs. The whole world depends on what they do. Even Lloyd Blankfein himself thinks that Goldman Sachs does God’s work. You can’t seriously propose regulations or tax hikes, can you? That might topple the entire structure of civilization itself, you ninnies! In fact, they’re so important they deserve million dollar bonuses.

I see two main scenarios here. Either these guys are fairly mediocre to very bad, or they’re just plain full of shit.

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