Daily Archives: February 25, 2018

A Primer on Mark to Market

This is a repost from the old site:

Some conservatives, of course, are blaming the current economic chaos on too much regulation instead of the obvious cause of it that any moron can figure out, lack of regulation. This is especially popular on White Nationalist websites, where the line is that all regulation of business is evil for White people.

I would like to point that although the conservatives are reeling from this latest economic meltdown and their philosophy is in tatters (rejected by the media elite who used to support them to the hilt more than anyone else), some conservatives are starting to fight back.

The market meltdown was not caused by the lack of regulation that everyone knows caused it; instead, it was caused by the conservative bogeyman of too much regulation. But this is not going over very well. Outside of the Fanatics’ Bullpen and the Republican Party, no one is buying. Even the US rightwing media is not so stupid as to buy into this one.

The “mark to market rule”* controversy is an interesting one.

But nevertheless, mark to market is being put forward as one of the stupider regulations that supposedly either helped bring this mess on or is making it worse. So says Paul Craig Roberts (unapologetic Reaganite incredibly featured on Counterpunch) here, here and here, and Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek columnist and apologist for neoliberal globalism and US imperialism disguised as reasonable and thoughtful analyst.

Mark to market was put in to keep these corporate rats from lying about their assets and their bottom lines. Amid the catastrophes caused by the rampant accounting fraud and crime accompanying Enron and the other messes, the mark to market rule was instituted. What it means is simple: corporations have to list assets and debts as they really are, not as they think they are in their fairy tale fantasies.

What corporations were doing was this: Suppose I have assets that are worth $10X. That looks pretty bad for my bottom line, so I “re-evaluate them” with the help of some friendly local accountant firm criminals, and now automagically they are actually worth $100X. Why?

Because my accountant criminal buddies and I decided that my assets are actually undervalued, and are worth much more than the market says they are worth. So I get to fool investors, inflate my bottom line and pretend that my insolvent company is actually rolling in it.

Seems like an obvious abuse, no? Seems like a reasonable regulation, no?

Turns out after all that mark to market is sheer government evil. Evil big government is forcing angelic corporations to tell the truth about their net worth instead of lying as they always do, even in their sleep, and this harming the glorified US economy.

Nowadays, banksters and other financial criminals are holding all sorts of assets that are said to be worth, say, $100X. In truth, no one even knows what they are worth, and there is no way to figure it out. Their true value is so low that the banksters act like these assets are toxic waste.

Mark to market means they have to mark them at $30X or $2X or whatever the market says this crap is worth. But what they really want to do is lie and pretend that it’s worth $100X.

Why? Because if the corporations tell the truth about how much their assets are really worth, instead of how much they lie and inflate their worth at, investors will pound their two-bit penny stocks into the ground where they deserve to be pounded.

But that’s bad for the economy. We can’t afford to have the stocks of insolvent companies pounded into the dirt on the basis of honest accounting of assets and debits. Instead, it is necessary to lie, paint a turd to look like a Michelangelo, and keep the sucker/investors marching in the door and laying out the cash. To tell the truth will wreck the economy. To save the economy, we must legalize lying once again.

Does any of this make sense in any rational world? Of course not.

These are the rarefied debates that occupy our ruling elites in these trying times.

*I am not an economist, and I may not have correctly characterized the mark to market rule or the arguments for or against it. If you think I have this wrong, head to the comments or email and let me know.


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