Ben Stein must be on a campaign to make himself look stupid. Everyone here knows about his association with creationism, but it turns out this former student of economics at Yale is clueless about everything…but he still gets published in The New York Times.
First, let me begin with a first. I have never warned readers away from any one columnist or journalist, but after reading his column this weekend in The New York Times , I feel obligated to tell readers to never read Ben Stein again.
In indicting traders and lackeys in the press for the subprime selloff, Stein offers not one shred of evidence. Moreover, his implication that traders would purposefully tank the subprime market because they are short stock belies the reality that almost every Wall Street firm is getting creamed because they were not short. And traders are getting laid off left and right. Again: because they were not short.
He speaks about a wise brother-in-law who apparently once explained the legal system to him. He mentions a trader he once spoke to about a movement in the price of IBM. And that’s it.
He goes on to raise an eyebrow about the spread between the size of the write-offs and size of the market losses, without mentioning that part of the market losses have to do with the fact that no one knows where these securities should be priced (unknown is the greatest market fear) and, uh, there has been a concern or six about the economy besides subprime taking down prices.
I have seen a lot of bad business journalism in my day, but nothing as irresponsible and so wholly unsupported by facts. Actually, by even a single fact. This is his last line:
“And one thing’s for sure: With the traders running things, it won’t be a good time for amateurs until the traders cry “Switch!” and the market starts to rise.”
Read it (if you promise me it’ll be the last of his work you read) and tell me if this effort is any better than the braying on conspiracy Web sites. It was a shameful effort.