Thursday, April 1, 2010
Geithner: Pickpocketing Trillions from the People to Give to the Oligarchy Was "Deeply Unfair", But We ... Um ... Had To
Tim Geithner told the Today Show that:
It's "deeply unfair" that some financial institutions that got taxpayer-paid bailouts are emerging in better shape from the recession than millions of ordinary Americans.
Geithner also argued that President Barack Obama had no choice when confronted with a financial crisis.
"As the president has said, we had to do some very unpopular things," Geithner said. "People looked at what had happened."
"It's not fair. It's deeply unfair," he said. "He (Obama) had to decide whether he was going to act to fix it or stand back ... and that would have been calamitous for the American economy."
There are only a couple of minor inaccuracies in Geithner's statements:
- Geithner's entire approach is wrong, because the economy can't recover until many of the "financial institutions that got taxpayer-paid bailouts [and] are emerging in better shape" are broken up
- The government has been anemic in addressing unemployment
Moreover, it is not like their approach fell on them and they couldn't do anything about it. Geithner, Summers, Bernanke and the boys made a conscious decision to side with the oligarchy at the expense of the people.
As Simon Johnson and James Kwak write:
[There was a] point at which the government had to decide if it would defend the financial oligarchy from populist outrage, or whether it would reform the financial system that brought us the financial crisis and severe recession. We do not think it was an easy choice. But ultimately Obama and his advisers chose to bet on the bankers they knew. The result has been even larger banks and an even more concentrated financial sector.Geithner also told the Today Show that he hopes skeptical voters will note legislation moving through Congress to bring reforms to the financial system.
He's banking, of course, on the fact that many voters won't realize that the legislation is a placebo containing no real medicine.
Geithner ended the interview with this pearl of wisdom:
"What happened in our country should never happen again," he said. "People were paid for taking enormous risks. It was a crazy way to run a financial system." Geithner said, "It's the government's job ... to do a better job of restraining that kind of risk-taking."Indeed ... too bad that Geithner and the boys are still encouraging that kind of risk-taking.
Geithner was, of course, largely responsible for much of the failure of the government to restrain risk-taking in the first place.
As William Black points out:
Mr. Geithner, as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since October 2003, was one of those senior regulators who failed to take any effective regulatory action to prevent the crisis, but instead covered up its depth.Geithner was also complicit in Lehman's accounting fraud .
And pushed to pay AIG's CDS counterparties at full value, and then to keep the deal secret.
And as Robert Reich notes today, Geithner was "very much in the center of the action" regarding the secret bail out of Bear Stearns without Congressional approval.
Indeed, the list of Geithner's hinky actions grows longer by the day as new facts emerge.