All posts by Said E. Dawlabani

President & CEO of The MEMEnomics Group

Is there a Shakeup in Obama’s White House?

The same public discontent that elected Scott Brown to the US Senate seems to be making its way through the White House. So long Ivy League thinking (healthy ENTERPRISE  intelligences), and hello dysfunctional LIFE CONDITIONS, or so admitted our President in a recent interview with ABC News. One of the areas of greatest dysfunction in his administration’s first year, in my opinion has been the ill-advised approach on how to regulate the financial industry. Here’s the noticeable change in our President’s approach as his thinking grows on the job

When the financial crisis was still brewing, speeches by our President-elect were full of what people wanted to hear about re-regulating banks as seen by his head of economic advisers at the time, Paul Volker. As former head of the Federal Reserve, and a Goliath in taming inflation, Volker wanted to separate investment banks from commercial banks (just like they were for 60 years before Clinton de-regulated them). Volker had an untainted view on re-establishing the  ORDER value system (vMEME) to an industry plagued with clever speculation of a FEUDAL vMEME  at a systemic level.  Once Obama took the helm, Volker was sidelined in favor of Larry Summers, Wall Street’s darling who lobbied for deregulating banks and banning any regulation of the derivatives market during his time in the Clinton administration. Many economists argue that these two factors were the major contributors to the global financial crisis.

During the past year, while millions of Americans continued to lose their jobs and the number of homes in foreclosures climbed to over 5 million, Wall Street recovered at a record pace knowing its guy was advising the White House (injecting it with a false ORDER vMEME). Only after the loss of 2 gubernatorial seats and one senate seat to the republicans did the President realize that all is not well with the electorate and that the anger of the tax payer can indeed make him a lame duck President by the time he’s 2 year into the job. Deciding to turn back to Volker’s recommendations immediately after Brown’s election was the first  move from a SYSTEMIC vMEME the President has made since his election. As proof, since the President introduced “The Volker Rule” on Tuesday the Dow Jones has dropped more than 5% and the vultures in the financial industry are running to the exit doors.

It remains to be seen if the President has the capacities to transcend “pragmatism” (healthy ENTERPRISE vMEME) to a “systemic thinking” vMEME in formulating all his policies. His next area of challenge is foreign policy and the Middle East. Would he still be content with doing nothing and stay behind George Mitchell who claims much of the credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland but has accomplished nothing in a year in the Middle East (“pragmatism” of past accomplishments), or would he be willing to roll up his sleeves and do the work that the world needs done?


Of Mayan Gods, Government Elites, and an Arrogant Financial Industry

I had expected by the time I write my first post of 2010 many politicians and heads of investment banks would have humbly resigned and joined Habitat for Humanity as show of remorse for their ugly deeds. In the alternative, they would have been put on trial for their roles in causing the historic fall of the US. But alas, my hopes and those of millions have not been realized and we are angry. We are angry when we hear that at the height of financial crisis Tim Geithner, at the time, the head of the New York Fed, in several emails urged AIG to fudge their numbers to avert systemic failure of the financial industry. We are angry because instead of being on trial for such blatant and arrogant collusion he is now our Treasury Secretary.  We are angry because congressional hearings about regulating financial derivatives, the main cause of the crisis, started when Congress was on break and lobbyists send in farmers, the only group that needs derivative-based insurance to secure their crops and made them the face of this ugly and corrupt industry. We are angry at the hypocrisy of billionaire investment tycoons like Bill Gross who blasts the dysfunction in Washington and blatantly calls the Treasury a kleptocracy for being so friendly to bankers, yet his firm PIMCO takes absolute advantage of that dysfunction every single day. We are angry because we are no longer in a democracy. We voted for hope and change, but Wall Street made sure that these words are only parts of a speech recited daily to the masses by an incredibly effective orator.

Now, you might ask what  do Mayan Gods have to do with Wall Street and Washington politics. The answer lies in the history lesson that brought the demise of the Mayan civilization. At its zenith, the Mayan elite, made up of priests and politicians progressively turned away from addressing the needs of their people and turned their focus to serve their own needs. Well, as often is the case with hubris these became the defining moments that began the decline of a 3000 year old dynasty.

What will be in store for the US for 2010 and beyond is still to be determined. We are a resilient self renewing culture that must build a new model which makes the old, tired, corrupt, and self-serving model obsolete.