Archive for the ‘Citi’ Category

Obama’s Katrina Moment Is Here Now

March 22, 2009

A CHARMING visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”

By Frank Rich
The New York Times
.
Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the country’s surge of populist rage could devour the president’s best-laid plans, including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didn’t get in front of it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White House seemed utterly blindsided by the public’s revulsion at the moneyed insiders’ culture illuminated by Daschle’s post-Senate career. Yet last week’s events suggest that the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.

Otherwise it never would have used Lawrence Summers, the chief economic adviser, as a messenger just as the A.I.G. rage was reaching a full boil last weekend. Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes Geithner seem like Bobby Kennedy.

Bob Schieffer of CBS asked Summers the simple question that has haunted the American public since the bailouts began last fall: “Do you know, Dr. Summers, what the banks have done with all of this money that has been funneled to them through these bailouts?” What followed was a monologue of evasion that, translated into English, amounted to: Not really, but you little folk needn’t worry about it.

Yet even as Summers spoke, A.I.G. was belatedly confirming what he would not. It has, in essence, been laundering its $170 billion in taxpayers’ money by paying off its reckless partners in gambling and greed, from Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on Wall Street to Société Générale and Deutsche Bank abroad.

Summers was even more highhanded in addressing the “retention bonuses” handed to the very employees who brokered all those bad bets. After reciting the requisite outrage talking point, he delivered a patronizing lecture to viewers of ABC’s “This Week” on how our “tradition of upholding law” made it impossible to abrogate the bonus agreements. It never occurred to Summers that Americans might know that contracts are renegotiated all the time — most conspicuously of late by the United Automobile Workers, which consented to givebacks as its contribution to the Detroit bailout plan. Nor did he note, for all his supposed reverence for the law, that the A.I.G. unit being rewarded with these bonuses is now under legal investigation by British and American authorities.

Within 24 hours, Summers’s stand was discarded by Obama, who tardily (and impotently) vowed to “pursue every single legal avenue” to block the bonuses. The question is not just why the White House was the last to learn about bonuses that Democratic congressmen had sought hearings about back in December, but why it was so slow to realize that the public’s anger couldn’t be sated by Summers’s legalese or by constant reiteration of the word outrage. By the time Obama acted, even the G.O.P. leader Mitch McConnell was ahead of him in full (if hypocritical) fulmination.

David Axelrod tried to rationalize the lagging response when he told The Washington Post last week that “people are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about A.I.G.,” but are instead “thinking about their own jobs.” While that’s technically true, it misses the point. Of course most Americans don’t know how A.I.G. brought the world’s financial system to near-ruin or what credit-default swaps are. They may not even know what A.I.G. stands for. But Americans do make the connection between their fears about their own jobs and their broad understanding of the A.I.G. debacle.

They know that the corporate bosses who may yet lay them off have sometimes been as obscenely overcompensated for failure as Wall Street’s bonus babies. As The Wall Street Journal reported last week, chief executives at businesses as diverse as Texas Instruments and the home builder Hovnanian Enterprises have received millions in bonuses even as their companies’ shares have lost more than half their value.

Since Americans get the big picture of this inequitable system, that grotesque reality dwarfs any fine print. That’s why it doesn’t matter that the disputed bonuses at A.I.G. amount to less than one-tenth of one percent of its bailout. Or that CNBC — with 300,000 viewers on a typical day by Nielsen’s measure — is a relatively minor player in the crash. Or that Edward Liddy had nothing to do with A.I.G.’s collapse, or that John Thain, of the celebrated trash can, arrived after, not before, others wrecked Merrill Lynch.

These prominent players are just the handiest camera-ready triggers for the larger rage. Passions are now so hot that even Bernie Madoff’s crimes began to pale as we turned our attention to A.I.G.’s misdeeds, just as A.I.G. will fade when the next malefactor surfaces.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/
03/22/opinion/22rich.html?_r=1

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Obama Spending $1 Billion an Hour of Borrowed Money in First 50 Days

March 11, 2009

“In just 50 days, Congress has voted to spend about $1.2 trillion between the Stimulus and the Omnibus,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “To put that in perspective, that’s about $24 billion a day, or about $1 billion an hour—most of it borrowed. There’s simply no question: government spending has spun out of control.”

And, sadly, the economy has not shown new signs of life…..

On Obama:

“No one wants him to fail,” McConnell, 67, said in an interview. “But saying ‘no’ to bad policy is not saying ‘no’ to everything.”

*****************

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has come up with a vivid new way to express his contention that the nation is spending way too much money it doesn’t have.

McConnell includes the tweaks in his opening remarks on the Senate floor on the 51st day that President Obama has been in office.

“In just 50 days, Congress has voted to spend about $1.2 trillion between the Stimulus and the Omnibus,” McConnell says. “To put that in perspective, that’s about $24 billion a day, or about $1 billion an hour—most of it borrowed. There’s simply no question: government spending has spun out of control.”

From Politico:
http://www.politico.com/new
s/stories/0309/19884.html

and
http://news.yahoo.com/s/bloom
berg/20090311/pl_bloomberg
/a9ygbyjyi4dq

And where has the Bank Bailout (TARP) money gone?
.
Ask Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Kucinich staffers questioned the propriety of an $8 billion Citigroup Inc. loan to Dubai, a $7 billion Bank of America investment in China Construction Bank Corp., and a $1 billion investment in India by J.P. Morgan. The three financial institutions got a total of $120 billion in tax dollars through the bailout program.

Although the transactions are not illegal,  Kucinich questioned the wisdom of directing money to foreign governments rather than the domestic economy.

“How does a multibillion financing deal to Dubai ease the liquidity crisis in the United States of America?” Kucinich asked at the subcommittee hearing. “What about other kinds of uses of funds: corporate spending on lavish parties, the continuation of contractual agreements to pay for naming rights on professional sports stadiums, corporate sporting event sponsorships?”

The memo also cited “significant shortcomings” in Treasury Department oversight over money dispersed through TARP, and claimed the department hasn’t questioned any TARP recipient about its use of the money.

Nancy Pelosi is already saying the nation will need another stimulus bill before we get out of this recession….

The $787 billion economic-stimulus plan was followed by today’s omnibus for $410 billion….

The interest payment on the debt from the stimulus and the omnibus will be about $500 billion…..

Elect me after I promised to end earmarks and “business as usual.”  Priceless?  Hardly.  Hypocracy.  Much of the price will be paid by your children and grandchildren.  John McCain calls that “generational theft.”  Not “priceless.”

Related:
President may Ask For “Global Bailout”
Obama, Geithner: recession requires global action 

Even Democrats Showing Signs Of Economic Despair, Worry at White House Inertia

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/1
1/earmark-zilla-futuregen-boondoggle-
grows-even-bigger/

http://giovanniworld.wordpress.com
/2009/03/11/howard-fineman-grows-up/

Hypocracy President Signs Omnibus, 9,000 Earmarks, Claims “Honest Budget”

In Britain’s Bank Bailout, Taxpayers Face Years of Debt: How About in the US?

January 18, 2009

Oxymoron defined: We’re borrowing and spending our way out of debt…

Last week, Goldman Sachs estimated that losses worldwide could mount to $2 trillion, about double what has been realized so far.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Financial Times on Saturday that banks need to reveal the true size of their losses as a step toward moving past the crisis.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the U.S. government early Friday morning agreed to invest $20 billion in Bank of America, and to protect the bank against up to $118 billion in potential losses from bank assets related to risky mortgage loans.

Early Friday morning, Bank of America reported a $2.39 billion fourth-quarter loss and slashed its quarterly dividend to a penny. Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch posted a $15.31 billion loss for the period. The company reported a profit of $4 billion for the year.

Pardon me if I worry….

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

**********************

Taxpayers are poised to take on the “toxic” debts of High Street lenders in a new bank rescue deal that could cost the Treasury billions of pounds.

By Katherine Griffiths, Mark Kleinman and Patrick Hennessy
The Telegraph (UK)

Under the “pay as you go” plan, details of which were still being hammered out on Saturday, the Government will create a new insurance scheme that would see liabilities of up to £200 billion potentially kept on the public books for years.

Taxpayers would not face an immediate upfront cost but could be hit with payments in future if banks’ assets fell below a certain level.

The insurance scheme has won favour at the expense of alternative plans to create a “bad” bank under which the Government would have simply bought banks’ existing toxic debts.

The latest rescue plan comes amid growing concern that lenders are about to unveil losses for 2008 that will shock the market.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) could reveal about £20 billion of losses which would be the biggest corporate loss ever in Britain. HBOS’s bad debts, meanwhile, are thought to be so serious that the Government will press for the Lloyds Banking Group to come under state control.

In a closely linked plan, the Government is preparing to “swap” certain types of shares in RBS, increasing its stake in the troubled lender from almost 60 per cent to 70 per cent. Ministers believe it is increasingly likely that they will now have to fully nationalise the Edinburgh-based bank.

Under the same share-swap scheme the Government could increase its holding in the enlarged Lloyds bank from 43 per cent to over 50 per cent, giving it a controlling stake. Lloyds is expected to fiercely resist the move.

Details of Labour’s latest bail-out plans, which could be announced as soon as Monday, came as Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, stepped up his rhetoric over irresponsible lending.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financeto
pics/recession/4280229/Taxpayers-face-yea
rs-of-debt-in-bank-salvage-deal.html