Monday, May 21, 2007
After reading of recent developments regarding John Crudele's request to learn more about the President's Working Group on Financial Markets under the Freedom of Information Act, two quick screen shots from two websites make the queries of the New York Post writer all the more interesting.
The first is from Wikipedia and shows the now familiar glare of former Goldman Sachs chief Hank Paulson who now serves as U.S. Treasury Secretary. Note the date when Mr. Paulson assumed office - July 3, 2006.
The second screen shot is from the always-handy BigCharts.com site where a little red arrow has been added to a two-year chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicating the date when Mr. Paulson took office.
Now, conspiracy theories are looked upon around here with equal parts curiosity and skepticism, but the two graphics above really are pretty interesting. Anyone paying close attention to these sorts of things can't help but notice how the tide turned last summer.
Considering the plunge in gasoline prices last fall after Goldman Sachs re-weighted the world's most popular commodity index causing the forced liquidation of $6 billion in futures contracts and you have to at least stop and wonder. Of course the commodity index was sold to Standard and Poors earlier this year with the company never explaining how a market-based index could change its unleaded gasoline weighting from 6 percent to 2 percent.
Did the world reduce its gasoline consumption that much in 2006?
Things have dramatically improved since the new Treasury Secretary has been on the job, especially if you work on Wall Street. On Main Street, however, it's a different story - after lower gasoline prices from late last year spurred renewed demand that creaky refineries proved unable to meet in early 2007, prices at the pump have soared to new all-time highs.
Anyway, the quest of John Crudele to learn the truth about what is commonly referred to as the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) continues - lawyers are now on the job:
We'd love to help the U.S. Treasury comply with our request for information about the Working Group on Financial Markets.Mr. Crudele is wished well in his search for the truth but this leaves the lingering question of whether the performance of the Dow is just another interesting coincidence or something more?
So The Post's lawyer is sending the following letter, reminding the government of its legal obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.
Dear Mr. (Hugh) Gilmore:
Director, Disclosure Services
I write to protest the failure by the Department of Treasury to process Mr. Crudele's request for documents relating to the Working Group on Financial Markets.
As you would be aware, under the Freedom of Information Act, the Department is required to process such requests within 20 working days: See 5 U.S.C. S. 552 (a).
Mr. Crudele lodged his request for documents almost 10 months ago. Yet he has yet to receive any document from the Department of Treasury or any explanation for the Department's failure to produce documents.
There's more to the letter, signed by The Post's lawyer, that I won't quote here.
But it essentially recaps that in my last column I showed how the Treasury's FOIA bureaucracy said it wanted to respond to my request "ASAP," even though our original letter seeking information about the secretive Working Group was sent nearly a year ago.
If not for the many observers seeking to explain how the U.S. stock market has become disconnected from the U.S. economy, then the question would probably never come up.
It's probably just another coincidence.