On April 24, 2010, Rick Ungar, then writing at True Slant, 1 and Barry Ritholtz, a blogger at The Big Picture, 2 exchanged views.
At the time, Mr. Ungar was active as a lawyer. Barry Ritholtz had become disenchanted with being a lawyer, and although he passed the bar exam, he had since let his registration lapse; people move on, and there's nothing wrong with no longer being a lawyer.
Comedy Gold: Grownups Know Nuance, Barry Tells Himself to "STF up"
Ungar read Ritholtz's April 23, 2010, blog post on the SEC v. Goldman case claiming it was going to be strong and aggressively prosecuted. Ritholtz begins:
"I put together this list based on what I know as a lawyer [emphasis added], a market observer, a quant and someone with contacts within the SEC. (Note: This represents my opinions, and no one elses [sic])."
Ritholtz concludes his screed by chiding non-lawyers: "I'm not a lawyer, but . . . Then you should not be ignorantly commenting on securities litigation. Why don't you pour yourself a tall glass of STF up."
Mr. Ungar wrote his critique on April 24, 2010: "More stupid commentary on Goldman Sachs case." After opining that Ritholtz's lack of nuance is "an embarrassment to lawyers everywhere" (well...lapsed registration, and all that), Mr. Ungar remarks:
While Mr. Ritholtz would have us believe that his assurance as to the quality of the government's case is based on some inside knowledge provided by his friends at the SEC, such a suggestion is pure crap and stated only for the purpose of making us believe that he is some 'special player' that we should all be listening to with rapt attention.
You'll recall the result was one of the SEC settlement specials. The SEC fined Goldman $550 million, Goldman said it made a "mistake," and hapless ex-Goldman salesman Fabrice Tourre was the sacrificial lamb.
April 2014: SEC's James Kidney Exposes "Tentative and Fearful" Regulator
At SEC attorney James Kidney's retirement party in April, 2014, he spoke out about a "timid and fearful" SEC. Kidney wanted the SEC to go up the chain of command and sue Tourre's boss. Instead the SEC levies penalties that are: "at most a tollbooth on the bankster turnpike." 3
Kidney said some high profile names among his bosses made no secret they were at the SEC to punch their tickets. They leave the SEC's revolving door for lucrative jobs.
On April 16, 2010, I spoke with Katie Couric, then with the CBS Evening News, and said the SEC didn't go far enough. I gave my opinion as a structured finance expert.
More Comedy Gold: Ungar Schools Ritholtz Again for Solicitation of $1,000 Sucker Bets
Ritholtz tries to belly bump Ungar in the comments section of Ungar's post, and Ungar writes several hilarious rejoinders. Among them, Ungar notes Ritholtz attempted to solicit a $1,000 sucker bet over the Internet. (Moreover, in his own post on his website, Ritholtz wrote: "I have $1,000 against any and all comers...")
Ungar schools him as to why it's a sucker bet, and then Ungar asserts: "you have broken any number of laws by attempting to solicit a bet on the internet -- unless you're based offshore somewhere."
1 Rick Ungar is now "the token lefty" with Forbes, co-host of "Steele & Unger," and Sirius XM Radio POTUS Channel Journalist, and Fox News Political Analyst.
2 Barry Ritholtz blogs at The Big Picture and Bloomberg View and writes a column for the Washington Post. He is also Chairman and Chief Investment Officer for Ritholtz Wealth Management, a newly formed registered investment advisory.
3 "SEC Goldman Lawyer Says Agency Too Timid on Wall Street Misdeeds," by Robert Schmidt, Bloomberg News, April 7, 2014.
End Note: This commentary is adapted from: "Rick Ungar Gives Barry Ritholtz a Lesson in the Law." at The Financial Report. See also: "Goldman Sachs: Spinning Gold"-- April 7, 2010, and "Financial Leadership: Dividing Our Supporters, Uniting our Critics."