Streetwise Professor

July 13, 2015

Chronicles of Hillary, Book the First: Kabuki, Not Conviction

Filed under: Commodities,Economics,Politics — The Professor @ 7:16 pm

This is, alas, likely to be a long running saga, hence the title: if we are lucky, the chronicles will end no later than 16 months from now. We can only hope.

Today Hillary gave a Big Speech on the economy. She channeled her inner Elizabeth Warren, and blasted Wall Street, big banks, hedge funds, short-termism and other easy targets.

You knew it was Kabuki, not conviction, from the very first: Hillary was introduced for her bankster bashing speech by leading bankster Lloyd Blankstein of Goldman Sachs. If Blankfein was truly threatened by Hillary, he wouldn’t have been embracing her, literally.

And of course, for all of Hillary’s leftist red meat, she has long been quite intimate with Wall Street. She has long milked The Street for campaign contributions and other boodle like it was a prize holstein. Most notably, Hillary was a very solicitous junior senator from NY, and in exchange for very generous financial support, she did Wall Street’s bidding. No Warren-esque rhetoric then, in those halcyon pre-Crisis years.

Further, Hillary has personal experience with hedge funds. Her son-in-law (about whom she presumably corresponded on her secret server in now-deleted emails) runs a hedge fund. More tellingly, Hillary held a million dollar investment in a hedge fund which just so happened to short medical stocks while she was on the campaign trail blasting the pharmaceutical industry and promising thoroughgoing health care reform. In other words, Hillary was an investor in hedge funds before she was against them.

Hillary declaimed today against Too Big to Fail. I guess I will have to give her a pass on this: her experience  is with small, crooked, insolvent ditchwater S&Ls in Dogpatch, not big banks in Gotham.


And insofar as short-termism is concerned, who can forget the Miracle of the Cattle Futures, in which Hillary turned some short-term profits totaling around $100 grand, based (in her telling) on her discerning reading of the WSJ? Which has always had crappy commodities coverage.

Hillary, in other words, is wildly implausible as an anti-Wall Street crusader. It is transparently the case that this is something that polls well, especially among Democratic primary voters, so she will play that part.

Hillary’s complementary theme is that she will fight for middle America. Yet more kabuki. You know Hillary detests her middle class upbringing in Park Ridge, IL, and has spent her entire life distancing herself from it. The years in Arkansas were like purgatory. Whenever Hillary subjects herself to the actual presence of middle class Americans, it is plainly evident that she would much rather be undergoing a root canal, but for the fact that a root canal won’t advance her vaulting political ambitions. The trials she endures!

Insofar as policy is concerned, Hillary served up a dog’s breakfast of tedious progressive proposals. The most amusing of these was a swipe at Uber and Airbnb, further evidence that alleged progressives are actually the enemies of disruptive technologies that undermine (politically-connected) incumbents: they are the party of stasis, not progress. (The losers from Uber are not working stiff cabbies, who make their reservation wage, but the owners of government-rationed taxi medallions.) She also paid obeisance to the sacred cow of “infrastructure,” advocating the creation of an infrastructure bank (which would direct resources to the politically connected rather than the economically productive). She also had a flashback to the 60s-70s infatuation with corporate profit sharing, which she said her administration would “encourage.” If profit sharing is indeed mutually beneficial, Hillary’s encouragement is hardly needed. If it isn’t, such encouragement would be detrimental.

All in all, a paint-by-progressive-numbers performance intended to shore up her left flank. It was classic Hillary-banal, and as authentic as Velveeta.

And just think, we have at least a year to put up with the tripe. Just pray its not 5 plus-or 9 plus-years.

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  1. You raise many valid points – even some liberal leaning folks find it hard to get excited about the prospect of Hillary as President. But you seem to be implying there are better alternatives. Really? If so, please point them out. The one thing that seems to get folks more motivated about HRC is the absolutely appalling nature of her competition (putting aside unelectables like Trump and Sanders). Bush is vacuous and seems to be running as the third term of his brother. Yet he is by far the most reasonable Republican. The rest are either lunatics, maniacs or fanatical fringe types. Can one even fathom Ted Cruz or Bobby Jindal in the White House? Or Chris Christie, the thin-skinned bully? Or wet-behind- the-ears Rubio, who can’t even sort out his own household debt? The lack of decent candidates is testament to the ultimate failure of our political system. Who would want to subject themselves to the campaign process anyways, apart from the most crassly ambitious types willing to win at all costs . . . Compared to the alternatives, HRC seems much more palatable . . .

    Comment by JB — July 13, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

  2. @swp…Thanks for bringing up the futures trading of HRC.
    Some background information:
    Back when executives would take a client to the track for a day on the expense account, a good trick was to make the client a winner from the start. It worked like this: you studied the Daily Racing Form, then knowingly told the client you had a good hunch about this, and you told him you’d buy his first winning ticket.
    You went back and put $10 to win on each horse in the first race. You put each ticket in a different pocket (men wore suits and ties then). When the race was over, you reached into the pocket that had a winning ticket, gave a sly smile to the client and handed him a winning ticket. The client started with the track’s money, you owned bragging rights, and all was well. If the client and your expense account was big enough, you boxed every horse in the exacta. Same trick. The beaming client gave you all his business.
    HRC’s ‘killing’ in commodities was the same technique. Tyson couldn’t actually write a check to Clinton (later, the Clinton’s set up the Foundation to make shenanigans much easier), so they played the racetrack game. They took her $1000, parked the losing trades and put all the winning trades into her account. Bingo! Her account made $100,000, and she ‘retired’ from commodity trading.
    I did some commodity trading in the 1980s. I was very small potatoes, and after some time I realized I didn’t know enough and couldn’t trade fast enough to compete.
    Historical note: These were the days of paper statements you received in the mail. I would see many trades in my account, trades I didn’t make, and I would call the brokerage.Another historical note: you called the broker on the phone, he actually answered his won phone and you actually talked to him, live. (The 1980s were a primitive time!)
    In any case, the broker would be totally blase about the strange trades. This happened many times, and he always said “Don’t worry about that.” He said it so often, he began to say “I told you before not to worry about that.” No explanation. And there was never a problem with them. Still, I was puzzled about it until I learned what a wild-west show commodity trading really was.
    She was aided on these trades by a guy who was outside counsel to Tyson Foods, the biggest employer in Arkansas. Even a blind person could connect these dots.
    But not the Washington press. HRC chose to explain her commodity trading on a Friday afternoon, when only the dumbest of the dumb Beltway press members were in town (I think Nixon was dying that day, so her strategy was to ‘come clean’ when practically everyone was distracted and only the economics-challenged press was in attendance). She could later peevishly answer that she had already spoken about this, that it was just an old story.
    This is just one small episode in the trail of mendacity that is HRC.

    Comment by Richard Whitney — July 14, 2015 @ 3:53 pm

  3. Fascinating stuff Richard, thanks. Which shows, as if it weren’t blatant enough already, what a piss-poor job the press does.

    Comment by Tim Newman — July 15, 2015 @ 4:57 am

  4. @Richard-Thanks. Amusing story re the track. At the time the revelations came out, I was certain that her broker was doing some paired trading, or bucketing trades. Buying and selling the same thing simultaneously, and then putting the winning trades in Hillary’s account, and the losers in the account of whoever was paying her off. We do know for certain that her broker let her slide on margin deficiencies, effectively funding her trading.

    All in all, her story is more miraculous than the Immaculate Conception. But as you note, the collective lack of curiosity by the press and the political class was stunning.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 15, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

  5. @JB-you are reading into my piece things that are not there. Criticism of HRC is by no means an endorsement of anyone else. I have been dismayed by the Lilliputians that have run for the Republicans for literally decades, and my streak remains intact. Though as bad as they are, I find it hard to believe that they are all worse than Hillary, especially when it comes to character.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 15, 2015 @ 12:06 pm

  6. @SWP…Lack of curiosity of the press? She was fired from the Watergate investigation by the head of the investigation, a life-long Democrat. He said later that he should have had her disbarred. She has been a bad actor since before the epic, serial Clinton malfeasance, all the way back to the Rodham Era. Don’t hold your breath until any member of the press asks about that. This is the woman who caused a new word to be coined: Arkancide.

    Comment by Richard Whitney — July 15, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

  7. She is a true pig…in the Orwellian sense.

    Comment by pahoben — July 22, 2015 @ 11:17 am

  8. @pahoben-In other senses as well.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 22, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

  9. @Professor
    I tried my best to be PC

    Comment by pahoben — July 23, 2015 @ 3:42 pm

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