The Nub

Stockman, the Mets and the ‘Big One’

(Posted: 3/23/12; e-mail update 3/24)

David Stockman, generic ampoule a hard hitter to right when he played the money game for Team Reagan in the ‘80s, has switched his stance.  He’s hitting more to the opposite field now on fiscal matters, swinging out against what he calls “Crony Capitalism” (subject of his upcoming book).  He says the financial play of Teams Bush and Obama has been so ragged, the only hope for fans today is what he calls the “big one”, a banking collapse that far exceeds the rout the country experienced in 2008.  Only then, he says, can effective team rebuilding begin.

Stockman’s view coincides eerily with what many Mets fans are feeling after the team’s favorable settlement in the Madoff-related case: It will take a major disaster for Fred Wilpon and partners to recognize it is time to let the troubled team get off to a fresh start. Whereas Stockman believes Wall Street, through its continued excesses, will bring on the big one in his field, Mets fans this season seemingly have the power to do job for their team themselves..  A widespread stay-away from CitiField would send the message that new leadership is needed to replace those who mismanaged the Mets these past several years. Such a boycott, in response to the poor 2012 team, could result in attendance plummeting to a point where the single-season falloff matches the $121 million lost via empty seats in 2010 and 2011 combined.  That would be a bottom-line big one, big enough, perhaps, for Wilpon, et al, finally to leave.

Just as the Mets renewal game plan calls for fans to keep their would-be attendance money in their pockets, so does Stockman offer a similar plan for all of us in the national ballpark.  Here is how he described it in an interview with USA Today:

 Q: How do investors protect themselves? What about the stock market?

A: I wouldn’t touch the stock market with a 100-foot pole. It’s a dangerous place. It’s not safe for men, women or children.

Q: Do you own any shares?

A: No.

Q: Are you in short-term Treasurys?

A: I’m just in…cash. I have some gold. I’m not going to take any risk.

Q: Municipal bonds?

A: No.

Q: No munis, no stocks. Wow. You’re not making any money.

A: Capital preservation is what your first, second and third priority ought to be in a system that is so jerry-built, so fragile, so exposed to major breakdown that it’s not worth what you think you might be able to earn…OK?  It’s not worth it.

Q: Give me your prescription to fix the economy.

A: We have to eat our broccoli for a good period of time. And that means our taxes are going to go up on everybody, not just the rich. It means that we have to stop subsidizing debt by getting a sane set of people back in charge of the Fed,

Finally, Stockman addresses what he sees as the coming of the big one:

Q: You sound as if we’re facing a financial crisis like the one that followed the collapse of Lehman Bros. in 2008.

A: Oh, far worse than Lehman. When the real margin call in the great beyond arrives, the carnage will be unimaginable.

Stat City (financial division) NY Times ace Gretchen Morgenson pitching to Bill Moyers on his PBS show:  GM: You know that Glass-Steagall was 34 pages long.  BM:  34 pages?  GM: The act that protected Americans from rapacious bankers for almost 70 years was about 34 pages long.  BM:  And Dodd-Frank is 2,300 pages —  GM: Way too complicated, all kinds of loopholes, right? You know, the more complex a law is the more you can probably finagle around it.

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Sound Familiar?  Why aren’t people more outraged?…Why no outrage at what (is)…going to (be) pass(ed) off as entertainment?   At the very least, sustained outrage will send a message to…do a better job.  Why has anyone bought a ticket for this season beyond the tradition that is opening day?  I’d like to hear a good reason.” – T.J. Simers, LA Times (about the Dodgers)

More from Mike Matheny…on why he’ll let his catchers risk home-plate collisions:  “It’s a play that doesn’t happen that often, but it’s a defining play and it carries a lot of weight with our pitching staff,’’  – quoted by the Globe’s Nick Cafardo

’Best Player Without a Job’:  SI’s Tom Verducci says that’s Johnny Damon.  Agent Scott Boros makes this stat-based pitch for his client, in danger of being unsigned on opening day: “Johnny Damon has played 140 games for 16 years in a row. The reality is there is no one that does that. You’ve got to look at how few games he misses.  He is the Greg Maddux of position players because he can do something over an extended period of time with frequency. That’s why my belief in his value as a player is so great,”

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(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey.  Comments to dickstar@aol.com are welcome, and only they can be addressed by the skipper.  Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)

About Richard Starkey

Dick Starkey handled media for former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and many other office-holders and candidates. He was sports editor of the Paris-based Herald Tribune. Perfect Pitch partner Robert Sullivan was the first to adapt focus groups to politics and has been called by Cuomo and others one of the "best" pollsters in the country.