Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

It's The Jaysons Season!

Don Luskin has launched the Jayson Awards — named after Jayson Blair, the Times reporter who admitted to a pattern of fraudulent and plagiarized stories — established to recognize Paul Krugman’s most outrageous statements in six categories.

Read the whole thing. It's absolutely hilarious for anyone who has followed the journalistic "career" of Herr Doktorprofessor Paul Von Krugman and seen it for what it is, and should be absolutely excruciating for anyone who has followed that "career" and fallen for Herr Doktorprofessor's palaver. And read the post in the light it is offered: While Herr Doktorprofessor is trying desperately on the pages of the Times itself to fend off Daniel Okrent's obviously correct (and rather understated) charge that "Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers."

I also suggest reading the post - and Herr Doktorprofessor's column of one's choice - while pretending that the column actually appeared as part of, say, a 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or as part of some other disclosure to which the fraud standards of Rule 10-b-5 applied:

It shall be unlawful for any person ... To make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading... in connection with the purchase or sale of any security.

Rule 10-b-5 pretty much makes the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers unlawful in connection with the purchase or sale of any security. Of course, Herr Doktorprofessor isn't selling securities. He's selling newspapers and political cant. Lucky thing, that is - for him. Herr Doktorprofessor "defends" himself in agitated style on the Public Editor pages. But nobody familiar with securities litigation could think for a moment that such arguments as Herr Doktorprofessor offers up would amount to substantial defenses in a case brought under Rule 10-b-5 (or, for that matter, to ward off a fraud charge from Attorney General Spitzer), especially in the post-Enron era.

Krugmanian Sample: I could explain why 77 percent, not 64 percent, is the right number, but does it really matter? Herr Doktorprofessor says: What's a roughly 25% overstatement between a fiduciary and his beneficiary, anyway? Well, it makes sense to Herr Doktorprofessor!

In the mean time, just for comparison, there's this from today's Wall Street Journal:

American International Group Inc. released its thrice-delayed annual report with a 2.7% hit to net worth .... All the major credit-ratings services in recent weeks have downgraded American International Group's once top-notch debt, raising borrowing costs and removing some of the competitive advantage AIG long had held ....The accounting adjustments ... slashed AIG's previously reported net income for 2004 by 12%... Overall, the restatement reduced AIG's net income from 2000 through 2004 by ... 10%. ...

Last week, New York's attorney general and insurance commissioner sued AIG and two former top executives -- longtime Chairman and Chief Executive Maurice R. "Hank" Greenberg and Howard I. Smith, AIG's former chief financial officer. ... The SEC, the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's office in New York City also are investigating AIG's accounting and related issues.

Picky, picky, picky!

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