Taibbi vs York

TAIBBI VS YORK…. New York magazine has an interesting new feature, in which two political writers discuss the presidential election over instant messenger. In the new installment, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi and National Review’s Byron York argued over a few things, but the exchange on the financial crisis was especially interesting.

York argued that McCain is facing a series of “headwinds,” including the “financial meltdown.” Taibbi noted that these “headwinds” are actually “the direct result of McCain having supported policies that are now unpopular,” and McCain deserves to get slammed for the financial crisis.

B.Y.: [O]n the financial meltdown in particular, if you’re suggesting that that is a Republican creation, or even more specifically a McCain creation, I think you’re on pretty shaky ground.

M.T.: You don’t think the unregulated CDS market was a major factor in the current crisis? Were you watching when AIG almost went under? Were you watching the Lehman collapse?

B.Y.: I think that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were also major factors. And I believe that many of the problems in the mortgage area can be attributed to the confluence of Democratic and Republican priorities: the Democrats’ desire to give mortgages to people, particularly minorities, who could not afford them, and the Republicans’ desire to achieve an “ownership society,” in part by giving mortgages to people who could not afford them. Again, I believe that if you are suggesting that the financial crisis is a Republican creation, or even more specifically a McCain creation, I think you’re on pretty shaky ground.

M.T.: Oh, come on. Tell me you’re not ashamed to put this gigantic international financial Krakatoa at the feet of a bunch of poor black people who missed their mortgage payments. The CDS market, this market for credit default swaps that was created in 2000 by Phil Gramm’s Commodities Future Modernization Act, this is now a $62 trillion market, up from $900 billion in 2000. That’s like five times the size of the holdings in the NYSE. And it’s all speculation by Wall Street traders. It’s a classic bubble/Ponzi scheme. The effort of people like you to pin this whole thing on minorities, when in fact this whole thing has been caused by greedy traders dealing in unregulated markets, is despicable.

When I think of Matt Taibbi, I always think of the phrase “does not suffer fools kindly.”

Indeed, as the IM discussion progressed, Taibbi’s questions became more pointed. York did not fare well. He wanted to pin at least some of the crisis on “minorities,” and Taibbi wouldn’t let him.

Good. As Ezra noted, “Taibbi isn’t right about everything — either in this interview or in general — but Byron York, and everyone else spouting this CRA bullshit, is a fraud, and they should be laughed out of polite company.”

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