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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Nothing to Fear but Irresponsible Words

This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. —FDR Inaugural Address

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender… —Winston Churchill

This sucker could go down.

—George Bush

It is widely reported that in the search for somebody to blame for the subprime crisis, some of the same Wall Street firms that foisted the subprime bubble on a willing world have pointed their fingers at rumors and the people who might spread them.

We do not argue one bit that the deliberate spreading of false rumors is potentially dangerous to real companies in a tight credit environment.

It most certainly is.

Yet we wonder how any spoken words could possibly have been more dangerous to the financial system than our own president’s comments to members of Congress, as reported in the weekend Wall Street Journal’s excellent inside view of the White House bailout negotiations:

Mr. Bush allowed everyone to vent their frustrations. Finally, he pointed out that both sides still agreed on the need to get the bill done. He added that “if we don’t loosen up some money into the system, this sucker could go down,” a repeat of the warning in his prime-time speech on Wednesday night that a financial panic is a real risk. The President’s unfortunate choice of words—“this sucker could go down”—carry the same deer-in-headlights quality as his televised speech to the American people last week, in which he used the word “panic,” as we recall. At a minimum, it makes you nervous; at a maximum, it makes you want to throw up first and sell everything second.

What happened to the heroic, forward-looking rhetoric great leaders are supposed to provide in times of crisis?

FDR gave us “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Churchill gave us “We shall fight on the beaches.”

George Bush cruises in with “This sucker could go down.”

We wonder: has a more irresponsible sentence been uttered, by anyone, during this entire crisis?

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2008 NotMakingThisUp, LLC

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice. It should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever. Nor are these comments meant to be a solicitation of business in any way: such inquiries will not be responded to. This content is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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