A story is told that Bertrand Russell, while teaching for a year in India, was once interrupted from a lecture on modern cosmology by an audience member who declared, “The universe rides on the back of a turtle.”
To which Russell replied, “But what’s the turtle ride on?”
“Another turtle,” replied the audience member.
Insisted Russell, “But what’s that turtle ride on?”
Came the answer, “I’m sorry Professor, but it’s turtles all the way down.”
That story has often come to mind over the last eight years. In the early part of the last decade I had cause to mingle in financial circles, and by 2004 I had smelled skunk regarding a range of Wall Street activities such as are chronicled extensively on DeepCapture. I went with plenty of data, anecdotes, and experts, first to NASD, then to the SEC, then the House, then Senate Banking, and finally to the financial press. All of them reacted with something between indolence and hostility (and thus began seven years of one federal investigation after another, just as I had been warned). I began to use the expression “Turtles all the way down” to describe the Establishment and its capture by financial interests, and wondered if the turtles would run all the way down, forever, or if we would ever hit something solid.
Today has brought good cheer in the form of an excellent piece by Gretchen Morgenson, “Into the Bailout Buzz Saw“, concerning Bailout, by Neil Barofsky (coming out Tuesday, July 24). Ms. Morgenson, one of several journalists at the New York Times, describes assertions that will not be strange to long-term readers of DeepCapture:
“IT might seem remarkable that there’s more to say about our late Bailout Age. But there is more — a lot more…..
“We tag along with Mr. Barofsky, a former federal prosecutor, as he walks into a political buzz saw as the special inspector general for TARP. Government officials, he says, eagerly served Wall Street interests at the public’s expense, and regulators were captured by the very industry they were supposed to be regulating. He says he was warned about being too aggressive in his work, lest he jeopardize his future career…
“‘The suspicions that the system is rigged in favor of the largest banks and their elites, so they play by their own set of rules to the disfavor of the taxpayers who funded their bailout, are true,’ Mr. Barofsky said in an interview last week. ‘It really happened. These suspicions are valid…’
“THIS was just one of many examples from Mr. Barofsky’s 16-month tenure, during which, he says, Washington abandoned Main Street while rescuing Wall Street. ‘There has to be wide-scale acknowledgment that regulatory capture exists, dominates our system and needs to be eradicated,’ Mr. Barofsky said in the interview. ‘It was my job to bring as much transparency to taxpayers so they knew what was going on. Writing the book, I tried to bring the same level of transparency so people understand how captured their government has become to the financial interests.’”