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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

 
Banksters Are Sick Of Being Scolded

by digby

... to which I would reply that they should shut their pie holes and be very, very grateful that that's all that's being done.

The latest narrative about the Wall Street bonuses is being written as we speak. Here's a typical exchange from "It's The Economy" on MSNBC this morning between Wall Street apologist Melissa Francis, designated populist Contessa Brewer and financial reporter David Cho:

Cho: [Wall Street is] tuned to [the furor] to a degree. They are refashioning the bonuses to take the form of stock rather than cash, tie their performance to their firm's performance. But that's not going to get to the anger here. People are angry over the overall size of these bonuses, not necessarily the form that they take. It's still going to be eye-popping figures. I think the commission is going to have to deal with this tomorrow. It's just such a hot button topic, I don't see how you don't ask them about it.

Francis: And we've seen the stage set already. We've see so many reports this week about the bonuses and about the what the government might do. At the same time we've heard Jamie Dimond of JP Morgan health conference saying that he is sick of people taking aim at his executives who've done a great job. This is a company that doesn't take TARP money any longer.

I mean it's really gearing up to be a fight tomorrow.

Cho: Yeah, but they did take TARP money, that's one of the points here...

Francis: But they paid it back! With interest.

Cho: they paid it back with interest ...

Francis: .. and they didn't want it in the first place. You can't say the same thing about Goldman Sachs, you can't say the same thing about AIG which hasn't paid it back, but there are some banks that have gotten out there, took the money and paid it right back.

Cho: It is clear that they would not have seen these record profits without all the low rates by the Fed, all the other government programs that are going on right now to help the financial system get back on its feet. I mean it's not just direct help, it's also major help through the Fed and other government ...

Brewer: I'll just make one other point. I think the anger isn't about people getting big bonuses. People have gotten big bonuses while other people are poor for a long time now. But the reason people are struggling right now because ..

Francis: Well there's still 10% unemployment..

Brewer: Well, yeah, and the reason why there's 10% unemployment is because we went through a financial crisis that in many ways is blamed on the decisions that the big banks made. So people are struggling because of the decisions of the big banks and to see them pulling in blockbuster numbers now, handing out bonuses while so much of America is still unemployed still hurts.

Cho: I think some of this anger does go on the administration. I mean, they are the ones forming many of these financial policies that help these big banks.

Francis: That's right, they could have let these banks fail. They didn't have to go in and bail them out.

David: Yeah ...

There you have it. The banks are greedy bastards who never wanted the money but benefited from the taxpayers' largesse --- but the administration is at fault for bailing them out in the first place.

This isn't going to be good for Democrats. Needless to say, the banks were originally bailed out by the Bush administration, but Bush's failures have been disappeared and the transition was pretty seamless between the two administrations on this issue, so there's not a lot of daylight. All anyone sees is this continued coddling of the big banks and Wall Street and a very unseemly relationship between the government and the most unpopular members of the business and financial sectors, in both the health care debate and the bailouts. Unfortunately, the only one of that group that people actually get to vote for is the government. As I've written before, the Democrats (and in particular those in the administration), are vulnerable on this because they ran so explicitly as clean, transparent reformers and they seem to be wither ineffectual or in cahoots. Neither of those things are selling points.

And I'm afraid that nobody believes the president's reported proposal to tax the banks to "recoup" some of the TARP funds is anything more than a political stunt at this point. The days of finger wagging and strenuously objecting are gone --- too much is known about the coddling of these institutions to make any of that believable. Unless there's more to it than we can see right now, I can't imagine that it will make a difference, even if the president goes on TV and sounds really, really mad. This requires something bold that will start to change the fundamental way our financial system is structured. Unless that happens this is going to be a very big political problem for the Democrats and an even bigger economic problem for the country.


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