1/8/09

Jim Lindgren on the Volokh Conspiracy Craps on J. Ezra Merkin

It's funny and ironic and learned when you can throw a macher's words back in his face and do it with such acerbic bite. That's why Jim Lindgren's quip on the legal blog Volokh Conspiracy is such a great blog post. Here's how he "craps" on J. Ezra "the Funnel" Merkin:
Ezra Merkin, Graham & Dodd, Warren Buffett, Nathan Detroit, and the World’s largest Ponzi scheme.

Ezra Merkin, the (presumably outgoing) Chair of GMAC, funneled large amounts of other people’s investment money into Bernie Madoff’s funds.

Ironically, Merkin wrote the Introduction to Chapter 3 of the 6th edition of Graham and Dodd’s Security Analysis (with a Foreword by Warren Buffett).

Merkin decries the “temptation to speculate.” He argues (p. 266):
[P]ropositions that would ordinarily sound ridiculous become strangely plausible. It's just like when Big Julie, in the classic Broadway musical Guys and Dolls, challenged Nathan Detroit to a game of craps played with dice that had no dots, other than those Big Julie claimed he could see.
Yet this is just what Merkin did. Ezra Merkin invested in “a game of craps played with dice that had no dots, other than those [Bernie Madoff] claimed he could see." The strategy that Madoff said he used (a “split-strike conversion strategy”) worked for no one except Madoff, booking profits that only Madoff could see.

I hope that none of GMAC’s assets were invested with Madoff or we would be bailing out the victims of a Ponzi scheme. The US government can’t afford to do that when it is already running the world’s largest Ponzi scheme.

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