Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it."Ben Bernanke's Blog"
Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.
At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.
Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury’s proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions.
“The definition of Financial Institution should be as broad as possible,” the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents big financial services companies, wrote in an e-mail message to members on Sunday.
The group said a wide variety of institutions as varied as mortgage lenders and insurance companies should be able to take advantage of the bailout, and that these companies should be able to sell off any investments linked to mortgages.
Next to the huge economic crisis, the most unfortunate thing about the past two weeks has been having to spend so much time with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. I never could stand investment bankers. They're always trying to sell you something. Since the people are calling for more transparency in our decision making, here's a transcript of our conference call:" 'Hurricane' Paulson blows away 500 years of jurisprudence for bankers' club"
Hank Paulson: Ben, this free market shit isn't working for us anymore. The bankers aren't making any money and are being held accountable for their losses.
Me: That's how free markets work. Remember when Lloyd [Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sacks] got that bonus check of almost $70 million just last year? Should he take the losses too?
Hank: Lloyd, that little shit. Good thing I had to sell my $500 million of Goldman stock before I took office. Betty [that's Hank's secretary, she just won Secretary of the Month], get Lloyd on the phone.
Lloyd: Hey Hank. Oh, Ben's on too? Hi Ben. I got a little worried when you let Lehman go bankrupt, but they could barely pretty up a PowerPoint anyhow. So I guess if you'll bail AIG we have nothing to worry about. Imagine how the world would feel if they heard Goldman was out of business.
Hank: Lloyd, if I have to bail Goldman out, my former fucking company, I will look like an asshole in front of the whole country.
Me: Don't you already?
Hank: Shut up Ben. We're trying to do a deal here.
Lloyd: So you won't bail us out?
Hank: Of course I will, but I'll have to bail out the whole fucking system with you so it looks good. But I'm not doing this for nothing. In the time of this conference call, I just wrote a three page piece of legislation on my BlackBerry. I'm going to buy all your assets that are worth 50% of what you paid for them for 80% of what you paid for them.
Me: I thought you had an iPhone.
Lloyd: Thank you!
Hank: No so fast. Before I buy your shit assets, you're going to become a bank holding company. Why? That will let me regulate your ass. Lloyd, you and the rest of Wall Street is working for me again.
The US Treasury's monetary revolution takes it well beyond the rule of law; it's a financial coup d'etat."The $700 Billion Bailout: One More Weapon of Mass Deception"
BEFORE we even think about the inevitable passing of a banking licence to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley - previously they held only gaming licences - let us learn by rote the following: "Decisions by the Secretary (Henry Paulson) pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."
If the actions of our rulers are beyond the rule of law then those who usurp that rule are presumably above it. To paraphrase the English playwright Oliver Goldsmith, Herr Comrade Paulson has not just offended the law but done something far more terrible - he hath put the law out of office.
Not since the Bush administration's lies about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" have the American people been so despicably misled."Wall Street's 9/11 in 2008"
The Bush administration's proposal to buy, with taxpayers' money, $700 billion of toxic liabilities from the corporate financial titans of Wall Street is a fraud. It is by no means necessary, as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson claims in the agency's Fact Sheet, "to promote market stability, and help protect American families and the U.S. economy."
It is necessary only to assure the financial survival of Wall Street banks and brokerages, the administration's most loyal supporters and its greatest political contributors -- and in large measure the cause of the financial meltdown the country is facing.
Yesterday's news that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley will become "holding companies" is simply a finesse intended to disguise the fact that all five Wall Street firms are now gone and deserve to disappear. Of course the victims are the taxpayers who, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson informed yesterday, will be on the hook for $700 billion. Make that $1 trillion or $2 trillion actually if the contagion keeps spreading despite increasing amounts of backstopping.
Frankly, lawsuits and handcuffs and RICO prosecutions are in order, but let's see if this terrorist attack results in mass arrests, full body searches, shipments to Gitmo or pinstriped stints in the slammer. I think RICO's a fine idea and taxpayers should be able to seize all the assets of all the managers, directors and executives who oversaw this conspiracy of recklessness for years. The money shot for me would be front-page photographs of government-induced foreclosures in Palm Beach and Palm Springs of Wall Streeters' mansions, stock portfolios, Porches and private jets.