Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Compleat Blogger

Today's NYT's ran an obit on an influential blogger who posted under the name Tanta.  The Times Nobel Prize winning economist/columnist, Paul Krugman also posted some kind words.  This is even more remarkable since Tanta was, on more then one occasion, critical of another NYT Pulitzer winner, Gretchen Morgenson.

As we all know, the quality of blogging is uneven -- but on occasion the quality is outstanding.  As well as regular posts, some of the more technical issues that are crucial to understanding mortgage issues were collected in a section called ' TheCompleat Ubernerd*"  The implication being that they weren't intended for the average reader.  However, these posts covered the kinds of details that are critical to understanding how things really work.  And a shortage of this sort of depth and detail leads to the echo chamber types of media (traditional and blog) reporting.  And the average reader, with a little patience, could read and understand the material.

You want mortgage backed securities -- Here it is:

1.  MBS - I
2.  MBS -II

I suppose that some people will say that they don't want to learn how to build a watch -- they just want to know the time.  However, in the next instant, there is the "how could this have happened."  And then assigning blame.  An insider knows that when something goes this wrong -- it isn't simple.  Some of the blame goes, ironically, to the very success of the earlier processes.  Then there are unintended consequences.  Add in greed (which has never been in short supply - and hence doesn't explain much), and opportunity.  A race to the bottom, with increasingly low standards driving out those who would have preserved standards.

So, it is never that simple.  Or black and white.  Yes, there are bad guys and not so bad guys and the occasional hero.  The above is my take on things -- but one final thought on blame.  In the lender/borrower dynamic, the lenders are supposed to be the adults.  The ones to set and maintain boundaries.  

Anyway, you have to make your own decisions regarding these things and you can't do it without accurate, relevant, and detailed information.  And there it was.  The kind of expertise that comes from first hand experience as well as keen insight.

If there is any chance that the future mash up of traditional and alternative media will evolve into something better -- this is an example of how it could happen.  A "proof of concept."      

*on a regular basis, someone would point out the misspelling of compleat

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