Ed Driscoll

President Goldman Sachs Presents 'The Muppet Show,' Sponsored by GE

Unexpectedly! “Weekly Jobless Claims Hit Higher Level Than Expected,” a CNBC headline reports, using a variation on what Jim Geraghty dubbed a year ago, “the most common adverb of the Obama years.”

The It’s Only Words blog replies:

It’s always unexpected with these people. Seriously, can’t you picture the entire Obama Administration standing on the White House lawn, gazing eastward and marveling that the sun has risen yet again?

The image will be that much sunnier, when the Photoshop I create last year for a Victor Davis Hanson post titled “The Coming Post-Obama Renaissance” becomes a reality:

In the meantime, the Washington Dispatch contrasts today’s malaise-ridden Obamaconomy with the recovery of the 1980s under President Reagan in graphic terms:

Click over to their blog to see the two charts full size — and then check out Jim Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Blog, who writes, “I wish Obama could time travel back to 1980”:

In 1980, there were plenty of forecasters who thought the American standard of living would decline over coming decades. Just look at all the dystopian films back then: Blade Runner, Soylent Green, Americathon, Escape from New York. Gloomy stuff.

But by the mid-1980s, those films were giving way to ones depicting a much sunnier tomorrow such as Back to the Future, Part II and the Star Trek revival. Indeed, from 1983-2007, U.S. real GDP grew by 3.3% a year, 2.2% on a per capital basis. Now, this was not as fast as the 1950s and 1960s when GDP growth averaged near 4%. But as Sumner explains, “Growth has been slower, but that’s true almost everywhere. What is important is that the neoliberal reforms in America have helped arrest our relative decline.

And the key reforms, by the way, are lower marginal tax rates and less intrusion by government into markets and the private sector via deregulation, eliminating price controls, and privatization.

Why would the president want to reverse course instead of recommitting America to the successful policies of the past decades?

By the way, it isn’t just the labor force that’s shrunk under Mr. Obama, as CNBC noted earlier this month, with another “unexpected” subtext:

It’s one of the biggest mysteries on Wall Street. How can stocks be in their fourth year of a bull market and trading activity be so low?

During March, average daily volume in equity shares was at their lowest level since December 2007, according to new data from Credit Suisse. This is the same month that marked the three-year anniversary of the bull market that caused the Standard & Poor’s 500 to double from its March 2009 credit-crisis low.

Actually that same CNBC article partially clears up the mystery, but the reader has to click on a hyperlink embedded first. Buried much deeper in the same article is this little tidbit:

“The financial industry has placed itself above the investing public (‘muppets‘) and will take every advantage it can secure,” said Alan Newman, author of the Crosscurrents financial newsletter. “The public’s confidence has been shattered, possibly beyond repair.”

And buried within the word “muppets” is a link to an earlier CNBC story from late March:

Goldman Sachs has begun scanning internal emails for the term “muppet” and other evidence that employees referred to clients in derogatory ways, Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein told partners in a conference call this week, according to people familiar with the call.

The company-wide email review comes after an executive director named Greg Smith resigned last week in a scathing op-ed column in the New York Times in which he said he saw five Goldman managing directors refer to clients as “muppets,” at times over internal email.

In the United States, “muppet” brings to mind lovable puppets such as Kermit the Frog, but in Britain “muppet” is slang for a stupid person.

On the conference call with partners this week, Blankfein said the company was taking Smith’s claims seriously and was conducting a review of his assertions, including the email scan, according to these people.

Consider this another example of Blair’s Law: Goldman Sachs, the company that thinks of its customers as “muppets,” is deeply in bed with the Obama administration, right down to their fundraising operations. The leader of said administration thinks of most Americans as lethargic bitter clingers, typical white people, who’ve acted stupidly, who’ve become soft, and who have lost their imagination and willingness to go along with the big government projects he envisions for them. (“What about more smart grids?” “We need more moon shot!”)

And the above articles appear on a subsidiary Website of General Electric, whose CEO is Obama’s “jobs czar,” when he’s not sending GE’s own jobs to China, and whose on-air talent at the sister network to CNBC thinks of half the American people in arguably even worse terms than Obama himself does:

“The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They’d rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don’t have anything for her. That’s how the insurance companies make money: by denying the coverage. My God, Democrats! What’s wrong with you?! You can’t deal with these people! At all!”

— Ed Schultz on MSNBC’s The Ed Show, September 23, 2009. (Video of the above rant here.)

As Peggy Noonan wrote earlier today in summing up a surfeit of government related disasters, “I think more and more people are worried about the American character—who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.” Noonan’s article referenced the lack of grown-ups in government, but the same is true in all facets of America, as the title of Diana West’s 2007 book spotlighted. Why wouldn’t the American investor want to sit on the sidelines and say to himself, “Nuts to all this,” during an era in which he’s openly berated by those who want both his money and his trust?

(See also: Galt, Going, which in terms of a dearth of new start-up businesses and a corresponding lack of new jobs, brings this post full circle.)

Update: “Barack Obama’s reelection campaign has released the most recent list of names of fundraising bundlers. On that list is Jon Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey and embattled money man, the former head of MF Global.”