A Challenge

On Tuesday, our friend Byron York engaged in an online debate, under the auspices of New York magazine, on an ill-defined topic that the magazine characterized as “whether McCain deserves blame for the Wall Street meltdown.” Not a tough question to answer, in my opinion. Byron’s opponent was a left-winger named Matt Taibbi.

Taibbi turned out to be a typically bullying, but ignorant, liberal. He called Byron a racist while ridiculing his supposedly skimpy knowledge of certain financial instruments. Not that Taibbi has any idea what he’s talking about; his bio suggests a limited expertise in sportswriting and Russian libel law.

My friend Bob Cunningham happened to see the ill-fated online debate and was, let’s say, annoyed by it. Bob is an expert in the subject matter–a real expert, not an internet goofball. He wrote:

I’ve been fantasizing about having a conversation like this — from the other side, of course — when left wing “journalists” start pontificating about derivatives, CDS instruments, notional vs. netted exposure and portfolio risk management. I’d like to see this fool explain any of that —- along with Tom Friedman, Maureen Dowd, E.J. Dionne and hundreds of other completely ignorant scribblers and pontificators — especially [a person] like this who challenges Byron York to do the same.

This is the simplified one-factor Vasicek model used by Basel II regulations as a first approximation of risk-weighted capital for credit portfolios; let’s have him explain it to us —- I can and have; in fact, I have been paid to do so….I’ll take him on…


This guy’s specific point was about derivatives, and specifically credit default swaps…and the supposed sole responsibility of Phil Gramm for their being “de-regulated”…and their major role in the recent unpleasantness.

This arrogant [person] lit into Byron York repeatedly challenging him to explain the CDS concept…while misstating the size of the market…by giving only the notional value rather than the FMV of the swaps, on a netted basis…if he doesn’t know what that means…he is an ignorant, pompous windbag…and if he does, then he is a mendacious, disingenuous left-wing propagandist…not too pretty either way.

I’ll take him on all of this…Same rules….live…no preparation or looking up on Google as he gets stuck like he snidely accused Byron of doing…I’ll pose the questions to him…testing his technical knowledge of CDS…and credit risk…

What do you say, Matt Taibbi, whoever you may be? Assuming you haven’t returned to Uzbekistan, are you willing to debate the same topic with an expert? If so, send an email to our mailbox, and we’ll set it up.


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