Saturday, January 10, 2009

Reputation Bubble Pop

Marion Maneker has the right call on the fall of Robert Rubin (link):
John Kenneth Galbraith’s dictum about the end of financial euphorias states that a previously omnipotent figure from the boom must be dethroned in the bust. Robert Rubin seems to fit that bill.
That's good, but two things. One, there are other and perhaps better candidates for the Galbraith prize. Just as a first approximation, I'd nominate Bernie Madoff. Maybe Hank Greenberg was a bit ahead of the curve, a canary in the coal mine.

But two, it is remarkable how many such swashbucklers do not look any worse now than they did before. Start with Warren Buffett. Add George Soros.

Oh, and a third point. I guess there is a separate category for people like Nouriel Roubini and John Paulson--perhaps Robert Shiller--who appear (in retrospect) to have been right when they were swimming against the stream.

I guess I'll have to make a special category for Rubin's old pal Lawrence Summers--someone whose reputation is being salvaged in tough times?

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