Friday, February 18, 2011

Send in the Clowns, Don't Bother, They're Here: Client 9

Most corrupt gargoyle on most corrupt capitol building?
I've put off watching Client 9 for several reasons, but chief among them was that I didn't need to have my head explode again. You know, life is short, we've only got so much time on earth, blah blah blah. But much like Spitzer not being able to resist his temptations, I caved. Now I can say that I've reached yet another bottom to the abyss that is EM08, however, I'm now multi-tasking, if that's what you call throwing up while your head's also exploding. Knowledge is messy.

Greenberg's initials prove he knew
There's a moment among a roster full where the central theme of Alex Gibney's is thrown with such in your face gusto it becomes hallucinatory, because it involves no less than mister AIG himself, Hank Greenberg, concocting fraud. Greenberg -- widely regarded then as the most powerful corporate king -- had even initialed (more than once) a handwritten deal memo for the $500 million con. In the end, the Gen Re officers that Greenberg had roped into the scheme were found or copped pleas. Greenberg's fate, however, is perhaps best summed up in a snippet from an interview he gave to Charlie Rose in the aftermath of EM08 when Rose asked him about the value of his stock. Greenberg says that it's worthless, Rose presses for a figure, and Greenberg with a straight face and a shrug says, "a hundred million."

And what is "Gen Re"? Why, it's a re-insurance company, which is just a smoke and mirrors way of calling a casino a legit business, in the same way that insurance is in reality gambling. All reinsurance casinos do is invest in some of the bets that another insurance company made. Just as a CDS (credit default swap) is to a CDO (collateralized debt obligation). And who owns Gen Re? Warren Buffett via Berkshire Hathaway.

I've said it before; Two years plus after the largest heist in history, with forces very much still in play (foreclosuregate, pension fund crises, fed, state & muni debt loads, millions in  unemployment, over 43 million on food stamps, record number of bank closings...) with implications for the future that are unprecedented (just on debt loads alone) and  despite massive evidence of fraud, conflicts of interest, payola... there hasn't been talk of one prosecution for those who were the architects and overseers.

But evidently there's time, money and manpower to go after a governor getting laid.