The New York Times served up another of those paeans to the victorious financial speculators on Sunday. This one glorifies a 38-year old Boaz Weinstein of Saba Capital. He is one of the people who early on recognized that something was going on with the credit default swaps market in the City of London. The NYT wants you to know that they are the winners and you are the losers.
The article has all the tropes of the genre. Weinstein wears the finery of Battle, as if flinging other people’s money around were the equivalent of standing up to IEDs or T-72 battle tanks. He is a member of a wolfpack, he “fanned the flames” of a trading mistake, he has a “preternatural appetite for risk and a take-no-prisoners style”. The “battle lines were drawn”. The JPMorgan Chase London Whale doubled down on his error, trying to scare off those who would profit, but Weinstein’s side “hits back in force” and in numbers.
All this warrior mentality comes in a hyper-smart package: he’s a philosophy major, a chess champion, a card-counter, a poker player, he picks up things faster than other people, and his mind is several steps ahead of other people.
He has the toys to go with all those smarts: he is buying a $24 million flat in New York, he drives a Maserati he won in a poker game, and he made more than $90 million last year. And he loves his mother, and he is a PR dream:
Now Mr. Weinstein is practically a featured attraction on Wall Street. He attends galas and charity events, and is sought out to speak at big events. Pictures of him clasping a drink at last night’s party appear with regularity on business Web sites.
I missed one of the tropes: “Mr. Weinstein is married to Tali Farhadian Weinstein, a rising lawyer in the Justice Department.” According to the wedding announcement in the NYT:
The bride, 35, is a lawyer with the United States Department of Justice. She was until June a counsel to the attorney general of the United States in Washington. From 2004 to 2006, she was a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the Supreme Court. The bride graduated from Yale, from which she also received a law degree. She received a master’s in Oriental Studies from Oxford University in England, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
That job in the Department of Justice was as one of Holder’s assistants. She’s now an assistant US Attorney in Brooklyn. And don’t you be hating her, like that nasty New York Post rag. She is one of the Obama 7, the lawyers who worked on Guantanamo cases and were subsequently hired into the Justice Department.
There are lots of copyrighted pictures of these people, including this one, which somehow seems perfect.
But you know, there are always nay-sayers. I, for example, think he is a parasite and a drain on society. Sure he made a bunch of money, but what did he produce? No jobs, no products, nothing to export, nothing to make life better for anyone else. The money disappeared from the shareholders of JPMorgan Chase and reappeared in the pockets of Weinstein and the rich people who invested in his $5.5 billion hedge fund. Why exactly should I admire a gambler? Do I want my children to live that useless life?
Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Weinstein can share their view on securities law enforcement with us. Something along the lines of greedy and immoral, but not criminal, and certainly not glorious.