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Buffet: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Barry Ritholtz is really pissed off.

Due to an unexpected outbreak of rationality (and perhaps embarrassment), the Treasury department has rejected requests of Goldman Sachs and Berkshire Hathaway to purchase Tax Credits from Fannie Mae.

This paper transaction would have provided precisely zero value to the taxpayers, and allowed these firms to add to the piles of bailout monies already received by avoiding billions of dollars in taxes otherwise legally owed. It would have been a license to steal.

The sheer arrogance, the colossal gall involved boggles the mind.

And while we expect this sort of behavior from the Vampire Squid — they take pride at Goldman in not just being whores, but in being the highest paid callgirls in town — it is stunning to see such behavior from the usually politically astute Oracle Tentacles of Omaha. For Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to team up with Goldman Sachs (which he now owns a healthy chunk of) is a bit of a revelation: We have been spun by his genteel manner, his aw shucks down-home-isms, his off Wall Street, less bloodthirsty approach to investing, into somehow believing he was different.

We have been duped.

We should not have been. Buffett has been the biggest shareholder in Moody’s — a collection of filthy whores and pederasts who were one of the main contributors to the economic collapse — should have raised serious questions as to his judgment in our minds. That he sat by silently as they did their worst, sodomizing the nations credit system for fun and profit was a powerful indictment of Buffett as someone far different than his public persona. In retrospect, as Moody’s was helping to destroy America’s financial system, his merely spouting off aphorisms about about Financial WMDs now looks too cute by half.

Those of you who used to respect Warren Buffett might consider moving him off your increasingly short list of participants in the marketplace who behave ethically. This crude attempt to steal billions — coming on the heels of the bullshit about “Investing in America” by buying Railroads — is a shock to me; perhaps that is a testament to my naivete.

Perhaps the Oracle of Omaha has been infected by a new flu variant, the H1N1 GS mutation. It is usually non fatal to the host, but destroys its reputation . . .

This is probably the toughest stance I’ve seen Barry taking; but it is disgusting that people are taking the system for a royal ride. Goldman is considered scum anyhow, so their doing this isn’t all that surprising. But Buffet? He does well with straight talk, but the walk isn’t quite that straight, it seems.

Barry also references a Rolfe Winkler post I’d spoken about and got some tough comments on. It’s becoming more evident now that Buffett, for all his talk, isn’t quite the saint he’s made out to be.

Berkshire made a healthy profit this quarter, though that’s a mark-to-market game; the real businesses seem to show slack and he’s trying to keep it lean there.

If the anger against these people trying to game the system doesn’t blow up, we’ll see the Buffetts and Goldmans make even more money at the cost of a lonely taxpayer. But the anger’s just starting to show – probably a year more of this craziness will be needed before someone gets really ticked off. It’s starting to appear slowly – Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, is appalled that “financial institutions could think that they could take taxpayer money and then turn around and act like it’s business as usual. I don’t understand how they can’t see that the world has changed in a fundamental way, that it is not business as usual when you take taxpayer dollars.“.

It’s disconcerting that the lessons of this crisis are all screwed up, and that people are still taking advantage of the now explicit taxpayer backstop. We’re learning to lie [let’s not mark to market], to fabricate positive news out of the most negative [US Unemployment at 17%? Dress it up as better than something else] and to cow down to threats that banking failures will crush everyone. If there ever was a time that thieves can look back and remember fondly, this is it.

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