Apparently The Financial Crisis Is The Fault Of Flickering Computer Screens

from the say-what-now? dept

From Paul Kedrosky we find one of the most idiotic theories on where the whole financial crisis came from, out of a laughably stupid interview with author Tom Wolfe. Apparently, the problem wasn’t complex securities, massive leverage, unsupportable subprime mortgage giveaways or anything of the sort. No sir. It was all those flickering screens on computers that make financial types not want to pay attention:

The whole thing, starting with the subprime, is the fault of the computer. I was just talking to a banker the other day, and not that long ago, 20 years ago, an investment banking house, let’s say, Lehman Brothers, when it got a package of mortgages, they would go through every mortgage, every single one, and they’d throw out the ones that just seemed absurd, they just wouldn’t accept them. Things used to arrive on paper. Today things arrive on a screen, and a screen is back lit, and one of the biggest pains in the neck is trying to read something dully written and complicated on a computer screen. It will drive you nuts — I mean, try it sometime. Now they say, “Oh, to hell with it,” and they just accept the whole package. And if it hadn’t been for that, they’d be going over each loan. What’s happened is the backward march of technology.

So, now you know.

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Comments on “Apparently The Financial Crisis Is The Fault Of Flickering Computer Screens”

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59 Comments
Ima Fish (profile) says:

I don’t know what’s worse, that Wolfe actually believes that nonsense or that Wolfe, who admittedly lacks even the basic knowledge of how to change the refresh rate on a computer monitor to stop it from flickering, thinks he is somehow qualified to express opinions relating to technology.

I’d bet anything that he has a 19″ CRT monitor, set to 1024×768 resolution, at 60 Hertz.

NeoConBushSupporter says:

We need a change in Government!

Everyone knows the financial collapse was the result of Nancy Pelosi and the Clintons forcing FREDDIE, FANNIE and the banks to give poor people mansions. That and these stringent banking and accounting regulations that force these companies to assess the value of their portfolios based on actual market prices and not just stuff they make up. When are we gonna get government out of the marketplace people!

VOTE McCain 2008 – Hes not friends with any 60s radicals!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We need a change in Government!

So wait, Nancy Pelosi and the Clintons (umm…wasn’t HE out of office) single handedly collapsed our economic back bone? It’s funny how the republicans easily point the finger at the democrats, even when they’re not in majority or presidential rule (for those counting that’s 8 years after Mr. Clinton had left office).

Mr. McCain may not be friends with 60’s radicals, but he sure seems to have a lot of ties to a few scandals throughout the 1980’s (Iran-contra or S&L ring a bell?). I seem to remember him letting thousands of people’s life savings go down the drain while he and his family were getting treated to tropical vacations.

Skippy T. Mut says:

Re: We need a change in Government!

it is people like you that got us into this mess in the first place. The Clintons are not responsible for this. Bill Clinton was well out of office before any of this happened. In fact while Bill was still in office we no deficit what-so-ever. The economy was booming and the country had no debt. Now the republicans have us almost (if not over) a TRILLION DOLLARS in debt, the economy is completely fucked, and all of us in the middle clas are being pissed on while these same republicans sit at home and count their money. Hooray for you guys being able to start a completely useless and dangerous war so that you could make money putting back together the country you tore apart in the first place. Good for you, jackass!

Oh how I can’t wait for the democrats to be back in control…

Anonymouse says:

Re: Re: We need a change in Government!

The U.S. had debt during the Clinton years and well before that. In fact, it was already over the trillion dollar mark by Bill’s time. What he did was balance the budget, that is, he got rid of deficit spending, so that the Gov’t wouldn’t need to borrow more from other countries in order to continue to function. Now, with GWB, the U.S. went back to borrowing money to fund things like wars, bank bailouts, and other expensive things. This means that now the U.S. has over TEN TRILLION dollars in debt, and is growing by several hundred billion dollars a year. Interesting times.

jeff says:

Re: We need a change in Government!

Please stop listening to Rush. Read a book and educate yourself. You get screwed either way, republican or democrat and have been for decades. If you would like to do something productive, help us overthrow the guvmint. Excersice your 2nd ammendment right and be a true patriot. The only good politician is one with a gun to his head, give him the gun and you lose your liberties. Bakunin, Mahkno, Benjamin Tucker etc. always had it right.

Joe sixpack says:

Re: We need a change in Government!

You are an idiot. Eight years of Dick Cheney’s secret energy policy, Phil Gramm and his loopholes for Enron, and a trillion dollar neocon oil war, and you blame a weak little weanie like Nancy Pelosi for this collapse? And you want to put garbage like McCain and a low level intellect like Sarah Palin at the bat? Not in my America, dumb fuck. You, my friend, are indoctrinated.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: patent trolls caused it !!!

Got to dive into the troll bait….

1. If it’s so shitty, why do you choose to troll this particular blog, rather than the literally millions of other blogs out there?

2. Mike was not making the claim. He was pointing out the stupidity of somebody else’s claim. Are you trying to argue against his position (blaming the crisis on monitors is stupid)? Why do you feel it’s necessary for him to make other claims in order to justify poking fun at this one?

3. There’s only one retarded punk here (well, apart from all the ACs). I wonder why he’s so angry?

As for me, yeah I think Wolfe’s blatantly kidding. Not least since if monitor flicker is a real issue for you with a TFT, you really should that looked at… it’s not normal!

Well, actually, from the quote Wolfe seems to be saying that reading things on a screen is more distracting than reading it on paper. That’s very subjective and I dare say something that probably affects his generation more than those of us who’ve grown up with the technology (I’m in my mid 30s, and I’d guess most of the people he’s talking about are in my generation).

ACs says:

Re: Re: patent trolls caused it !!!

PaulT -> “3. There’s only one retarded punk here (well, apart from all the ACs). I wonder why he’s so angry?”

Hey, I’m not as retarded as you may think.

and I’d like to add … Angry Doodie may not be retarded either. He is just soooo angry that he can not see straight and this adversely affects his judgement.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong.

Douglas Gresham (profile) says:

Re: patent trolls caused it !!!

Well I don’t think anyone will claim they caused it, but given innovation has been one of the US’s strongest qualities, anything that hampers it is going to hamper the creation of new wealth and so the recovery from this mess.

On topic: this couldn’t be an issue with non-CRT screens – are we supposed to believe that (as well as the other rubbish) people who were dealing with huge amounts of money couldn’t afford them? Dear me.

Ariel says:

It's everyone's fault

This issue is so complicated, it’s impossible to lay it at the door of any one Party, industry, administration, bank or person.

The seeds of what are causing the current crises go all the way back to the 70s. No, it’s not W’s fault. No, it’s not Clinton’s fault. It’s not the Dems. It’s not the Republicans. It’s EVERYONE.

Do some actual (and cursory) research into what’s causing this, and you’ll see it’s much larger than “OMG BUSH IS TEH EVIL”

It’s true that the current administration had the warning and arguably did nothing to prevent it, but that doesn’t mean they caused it.

Zuke says:

Re: It's everyone's fault

I agree w/Ariel above.

The other claims above that blame this soley on George Bush or Clinton/Pelosi need to do some research and quit jumping to conclusions. Just because it happened on Bush’s watch, does not automatically mean it’s his fault. That’s like saying 9/11, global warming, Hurricanes Katrina & Gustaf were his fault too. Oh wait, I have heard anti-Bush folks make such rabid claims…

Sure, the economy was “good” during Clinton, but people seem to forget it was partially built on the whole internet craze and dot.com boom of the mid-90s, and the truckloads of venture capital $’s. Heck, I knew college grads making +$100,000 cuz they had some rudimentary skill at coding web pages or C++ experience. When everyone finally realized all the VC spending, SuperBowl commercials touting Pets.com, BMWs, Porches, and folks buying $800,000 fixer-uppers in Silicon Valley, etc. actually needed to have a business model to bring in revenue eventually… the whole thing busted big-time right before Bush took office.

This sub-prime & bad mortgage funny-business started way before the current administration, but it’s been all the politicians and legislative subcommittees, etc. for several Administrations that have been turning a blind eye on the growing problem, since everyone wanted to encourage home ownership and the apparent boom it was funding and the related euphoria that the economy was doing well…

Anonymous Coward #42 says:

You be surprised how many idiots ran their CRTs at 60Hz, which can give you massive headaches and eye irritation. I would like to know what genius even thought it was a good idea to set the default refresh rate at 60Hz. At that refresh rate, the screen redraws at the same interval as AC (alternating current). Light bulbs using AC current actually turn on and off 60 times per second (60Hz), which is normally so fast that you don’t even see it. However, you can “see” it in a CRT running at 60Hz, and it can drive you batty.

The problem is, many people don’t know that there’s even a better way to do it. More than once have I fixed somebody’s refresh rate, which they’d been running at 60Hz for probably months or more, and they were completely shocked at how much better it looked. Fortunately, CRTs have just about gone the way of the buffalo, and are being replaced by LCD monitors. LCD panels handle refresh rates quite differently than CRTs, and most run at 60Hz without any problems in visual quality. Many can’t even go above 60Hz at their maximum (native) resolution, but it doesn’t matter because they don’t flicker.

But back to the topic at hand, to claim that screen flickering caused our financial and economic meltdown is absolutely absurd. If they really were stupid enough to accept things without reviewing everything, they themselves are at fault, not the technology. They could have complained to their IT department, gotten better equipment, printed the documents out and read them the old-fashioned way, etc. Laziness and/or greed are much more likely culprits than monitors.

Allan Weisbecker says:

Tom was always a tool

That’s the dumbest thing I have heard Tom say since “seriously Al, there is no way we’ll get caught”! The only thing dumber is that you are wasting your time reading and responding to Tom on the economy, seriously, what kind of electric acid kool-aide are you drinking to listen to him?
Everyone knows that this whole meltdown is just another example of capitalist greed running smack into a big mountain of reality. By the way Zuke, I always got a laugh out of that talkning puppet.

Anonymous Coward says:

He does make a valid point, even if he doesn’t realize it. When mortgages were done purely by paper, and were individually typed or hand written, and someone had to read them and approve them, and banks would deal locally, there were a hundredth of the loans being processed. Therefore there was actually time to carefully review the loans. And people didn’t waste time submitting “no-docs.”
Now because of technology, blah blah blah we have many more loans, and more bad ones are able to slip through. yada yada yada.

Joe S. says:

Finger of blame, the future's the same

Doesn’t matter who started it when both parties agree that the solution is to give Wall Street more and more trillions.

Doesn’t matter how much we regulate when the regulators will be from Wall Street and will be going back to Wall Street.

I don’t want more ‘regulation.’ I want more ACCOUNTABILITY.

gagal says:

Dems did it

What’s with all you libs and dems? This economy mess started years ago. Did you think it started this month? Fannie and Freddie have been making bad loans for YEARS. Yes, Clinton is partly to blame. WHY doesn’t someone notice that the Dems had control of congress the last 2 YEARS??? Why didn’t they do something sooner rather than wait until just before the election to try to ruin McCain’s chances???

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