Yes, Obama is Getting Serious About Banks. He is Now Calling Them Bad Names!

Are we supposed to take this posturing seriously? The media is now peddling more and more banker-favoring narratives with a straight face.

The Columbia Journalism Review described one last week, how a little Goldman Kabuki theater to appease the peasants was incorrectly depicted as a serious move:

…the press way overplays what is essentially a PR move.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both slap the news on A1, with the WSJ headlining that “Goldman Blinks on Bonuses,” implying it’s backing down on pay, when it’s doing no such thing. The Times’s hed is not much better: “Goldman’s Curbs on Bonuses Aim to Quell Uproar.” That implies that Goldman is curbing or cutting pay.

It’s doing no such thing. In fact, the move in all likelihood will increase the already-astronomical amount Goldman executives—and I do mean executives: these supposedly A1-worthy changes affect only the top thirty employees—will get this year. That’s because the big move, such that it is, is that Goldman is going to pay its top 30 people not in cash and stock, but in only stock—shares that they can’t cash in for five years.

This is a nice, positive move toward tying Goldman employees’ interests—like those of its partners of yore—to the long-term health of the firm. That theoretically means they wouldn’t be as tempted to blow up the world economy again in search of a quick buck (well, bucks. Many bucks. It’s always many bucks with Goldman) by, say, selling time-bomb securities they’re shorting at the same time.

Wellie, even this interpretation is a tad optimistic. Given that Goldman was a part of this last “blow up the global economy” exercise and now knows for certain it will be backstopped, there is no reason for it not to load up on risk again.

Today, the Wall Street Journal is promoting the curious fiction that a few harsh words from Obama to the banksters has any significance aside from its hopeful PR value.

Recall that Timothy Geithner once ventured early on to actually use “currency manipulator” and “China” in the same sentence. China threw its usual temper tantrum and the US backed down pronto. Here, Obama’s popularity ratings are falling, so the president has stepped up the rhetoric.

But who does he think he is fooling? The UK is imposing a 50% bonus supertax to encourage banks to retain earnings rather than pay them out. Financial services is a larger percentage of GDP in the UK than the US, so it is even more important for them not to mess up banking than it is for us, and they clearly believe that curbing banker pay is a positive and necessary move, and in lieu of having a worked out policy, a stopgap measure is a good place to start. Do we see anything approaching the same resolve here? Of course not, “resolve” is an empty word as far as Obama is concerned.

But look at how this tough talk drama is played up in the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama lashed out at Wall Street, calling bankers “fat cats” who don’t get it, in an escalation of tensions with the industry.

Mr. Obama, speaking on the eve of Monday’s meeting with the heads of major banks at the White House, said he would try to persuade bankers to free up more credit to businesses, with the aim of boosting job growth. But the president also expressed frustration with banks that the government has assisted.

“I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” Mr. Obama said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program on Sunday.

Yves here. That is a curious and revealing statement. No, you may not have run for office on a “cream to the bankers, crumbs to everyone else” platform, but it is certainly what you have done at every available opportunity. Start looking in the mirror and owning your policies, instead of pretending you are somehow not responsible for them. Back to the Journal:

Relations between the banking industry and the White House were frosty from the start and have deteriorated in recent weeks, with large banks lobbying against portions of legislation that would toughen financial-market regulations and administration officials angered by some banks’ continued payment of high bonuses and their reluctance to lend.

Yves here. Huh? Team Obama is acting surprised that the banksters are lobbying heavily against reform. They have been doing this all the way through, even ones who were still on the TARP drip feed. Were they not awake when the banking industry gutted the most meaningful part of the new consumer protection agency for banking products, that banks be required to offer plain vanilla products? Team Obama telegraphed a bank friendly posture from the get-go, from Geither’s very first statement in office, through the stress test charade, to letting the banks pay back the TARP so they could resume the critical-to-the-economy function of paying top executives big bonuses. We are supposed to take this “surprise” as genuine? They aided and abetted this behavior. No, what they are really surprised at is the chump public noticed and is pissed.

And now we have this:

Mr. Obama is scheduled on Monday morning to meet with bankers to exchange ideas on ways to increase lending; to review the financial-industry regulatory bill moving through Congress; and to discuss bankers’ compensation

The industry signaled its complete disrespect for Obama when not a single Wall Street chief executive attended Obama’s anniversary of Lehman speech. They know they are in the driver’s seat because Obama already ceded too much and is now in no position to claw his way back. Had he acted boldly starting January 20, things could be very different, but he now lacks the strategic position to have any impact, and he never had the nerve to begin with.

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75 comments

  1. doctorx

    Fine post, Yves. It’s a shame that what appears obvious to you and probably most of your readers would be considered revelatory in most of the country.

  2. Albatross

    Yves,

    May be Obama’s team (Summers, Geithner, Bernanke ,et el.) scared the sh.t out of him when (and before ) he came into office how we were doomed unless certain measured path was taken, and now almost a year later Barack started to see ‘fat cat bankers’ do not alter their ways and hopefully he started to listen more people like Volcker.

    I think he is basically toughening his defense/attack strategy before meeting ‘these fat cat bankers’ today.

    Hopefully he is a quick learner, and hopefully Volcker shapes the policy moving forward.

    Cheers,

    1. gruntled

      You hope too much!
      I believe the best indicator of how a newly elected president will behave in office is not his pre-election campaign rhetoric but who the majority of his contributors were. Yes, Obama had a lot of popular support from the little people, but the big contributors were from WS.

      He who pays the piper calls the tune. It’s always been that simple in Washington.

    2. Jean Gateau

      “Hopefully he is a quick learner, and hopefully Volcker shapes the policy moving forward.”

      “Hope”….hmmm, where have I heard that before?

  3. V

    I put it to the panel that Obama could very quickly gain back the initiative (if he really wanted to) by immediately putting Citigroup out of it’s misery via FDIC (or similar). That would put the rest of them on notice?

  4. Robespierre

    Obama has demonstrated through his actions to be a consummated liar. This I’m afraid will not be different. He has the tools today to reign in the bankers if he was interested or willing. He is neither. The problem here is that both parties have been bought by the industry

  5. Amit Chokshi

    Obama doesn’t care, it’s just done to pretend that they care and despite being the f’ing president, cant’ stop these bankers. I scoffed at the notion in Harpers a few months ago when the cover story compared Hoover to Obama but it’s looking spot on. Hoover had humble beginnings so the class he became part of was one he felt awkward in adjusting during the economic tumult. Obama has humble beginnings and did phenomenally for himself, similar to Clinton, so that now that they are in that class, they can’t disrupt it. In contrast, FDR didn’t give a damn. He was a part of the elite from the start and was viewed as a traitor to his class. That’s the type of person we need.

    Either case, none of this matters now. It’s a scam so make hay while you can.

    1. DownSouth

      FDR was a traitor to his class (his fellow bluebloods).

      LBJ was a traitor to his class (his fellow white southern racists).

      So if Obama is a traitor to his class (his fellow humble blacks)?

  6. number2son

    This is damage control in the wake of Taibbi’s latest broadside, this time aiming not directly at GS, but rather the corporatists in charge in D.C.

    Nobody who is paying attention buys the spin.

  7. number2son

    “[FDR] was a part of the elite from the start and was viewed as a traitor to his class.”

    True, but I think the better comparison is to FDR’s cousin, Teddy Roosevelt. We are living in similar times now as during TR’s day, and we need someone with the same mettle to break up the hegemony corporations have on our political system.

    Obama is clearly not up to the task.

    1. DownSouth

      FDR idolized Teddy.

      And I disagree that the hurdles that FDR faced were any less formidable than those faced by Teddy.

      For more on what FDR confronted, the prevailing attitudes and idologies of the Roaring Twenties that he had to overcome, I suggest these two chapters from Frederick Lewis Allen’s Only Yesterday:

      Chapter 6: Harding and the Scandals

      Chapter 7: Coolidge Prosperity

      http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/hypertex.html

  8. d4winds

    re “Had he acted boldly starting January 20…”

    What was “acting boldly” supposed to be? Both he and McCain endorsed TARP–McCain even more so, riding into Washington from the campaign trail as the nation’s economic savior. McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, & Reid fully endorsed TARP and marshaled their respective forces to do “the responsible thing” to defeat TARP opponent poseurs pandering to pseudo-populism. On January 20 BHO was already being painted as a “socialist” and “fascist” by the extremists-gone-mainstream right. The very idea that Citi or BAC might ever–repeat, ever–be capable of re-paying TARP, much less doing so within a year, was ridiculous. Your blog, like many others, was full of conjectures on how this Democrat, already newly dubbed socialist, needed to follow Swedish models and/or bad bank/good bank ones. Geithner was subsequently ridiculed in the MSM press for PPIP not so much for its concept as for not having had it rolled out within days of confirmation, preferably before it. Your faux outrage as a Monday morning quarterback/defender of “the people” may generate clicks, but not respect.

    1. JasonRines

      Actually, what Geithner ‘rolled’ out on his first ‘plan’ was nothing more than a mission statement. The investment community expected details. President Obama demonstrates the exact same kind of rhetoric-laden behavior absent details.

      I do hope Yves doesn’t answer to your comment, she certainly has been an equal opportunity policy basher, either right or left. The value of the website is not for the establishment who does not worry about the day to day necessities.

      Yves needs no defensible position for truth telling. Morality and intellect are two separate matters and from what I see, the Naked Capitalism website is promoting the proper concepts of Truth, Freedom and Justice.

      On the flip side on a global basis, I see from the Order Lies, Slavery and Injustice. No matter how it is spun now, 7 billion people will decide the future of mankind, not an order of 2,000 total morally bankrupted souls. No wonder euthanasia is now being considered by the Order. The losers of humanity always attempt to forestall evolution and in the end are flattened by its process. Perhaps we should have another Copenhagen meeting about evolution and the dangers to all mankind…

  9. Kid Dynamite

    yves – I saw this last night on 60 minutes, and obviously had the same thoughts. I also thought, though, that if confronted on this, Obama would play some card along the lines of “those weren’t my policies – i INHERITED them – they were Bush policies.” We were basically told as much when we went to the meeting at Treasury, when they played the “our administration has only given out $7B in TARP funds” card…

    I don’t agree with this defense, but i think it’s the defense that the Administration would offer.

  10. zackattack

    His posture toward the banks in his first days in office have cost him the ability to hold any moral authority on any other issue as president. It’s why he’s already one and done, even if he doesn’t know it yet.

  11. i on the ball patriot

    Good post! Good fire!

    But where is the call to action? Do we continue to write to our ‘elected’ government officials? Or are we ready for the election boycotts yet?

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  12. Jesse

    I am watching the Banker’s Summit coverage on Bloomberg TV today, and it looks like a propaganda piece, more than news coverage.

    I do not watch US mainstream news, except for a few highlights on youtube, so I cannot judge if this is how it is in the mainstream.

    But given that Yves readership is relatively small slice, then it seems obvious why this series of crisis will continue to build until there is a serious break, and then a reaction with the force of a tidal wave.

  13. nowhereman

    Yves has my respect, d4winds, and my clicks. Until we get some transparency we can’t help but wonder if Citi and BofA are not paying back the Tarp with taxpayer funds. The administration has back stopped this casino, and you seem to think this is a good thing. Hmmmm, how’s that working for ya?

  14. Brick

    They cannot have all those uppity rolling stones readers camping out in front of the white house. They also have to pretend to do something now everyone else is trying to limit bankers pay (admittedly in the wrong way that smacks of electioneering rather than anything usefull).
    I think they really are angry at the banks, mostly because the banks have clumsily revealed how completely ineffectual government has been. How dare those bankers act in such away to give the game away to the electorate.

  15. Oracle Knows

    No changes will happen until we replace everyone in Congress and outlaw lobbying. Our government has been hijacked and it’s time to take it back.

  16. sunny129

    All the prez had to say if he REALLY serious was”

    effective today, by Prez executive order I will re-instate Glass Stegal act to prevent the robbery of Taxpaters by Banksters”

    But he won’t b/c his balls belong to EConomic Royalists!

  17. BDBlue

    Via Ian Welsh, Peter Morici puts the $140 billion in banker bonuses in perspective:

    How much is $140 billion?

    The U.S. economy grew at a $89 billion annualized rate in the third quarter. That was the first growth since the second quarter of 2008 and came to $22 billion in actual growth in the third quarter.

    The bankers, after causing the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression, are rewarded with six times the growth accomplished so far in the much heralded “economic recovery.”

    Meanwhile, seven million families face foreclosure and 25 million Americans can’t find full time work.

    If Obama thinks he can hide that kind of injustice – or his role in it – with a PR campaign, he’s delusional. But then I’m beginning to think our entire ruling class is delusional.

    1. bobh

      They aren’t delusional. They are just opportunistic crows trying to pick a few last pieces of dead meat off the road kill of our economy before the next semi rolls over it.

  18. lucyparsons4ev

    The executive branch is prone to autocracy. The Legistlative branch is anathema to representative-participatory democracy.It is infested with myriad lobbyists. The Supreme Court is a bastion for political ideology, not blind justice.
    Remedy: Constitutional Convention. See Sanford Levinson:”Our Undemocratic Constitution”, http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/12212007/watch2.html

    1. bobh

      I saw these numbers before the election, but I hoped–and believed– that these donors were just sophisticated, limousine liberal bankers, frightened by McCain/Palin and eight years of damage to the economy from fighting trillion dollar unwinnable wars. If you hung out with these guys, you would probably find that many of them would agree with a lot of the points made here. The side of them raking in the huge salaries and bonuses is their cynical side. They know that huge piles of money are sitting there, just waiting to be skimmed by smart people, and it would be naive not to help themselves and get that summer place in the Hamptons, especially after all that work of getting the MBA in finance and wearing those expensive suits and working twelve hour days for years when they only made a few hundred grand. This was pretty broad-based giving from these firms, I suspect, and it is hard to imagine in what way quid pro quo promises were made. I think Obama caved to these guys for more complicated psychological reasons than campaign contributions.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      There may be no quid for the pro there, but the optics are terrible, and you would think that, with GS as his #2 investor, he might have had more than a passing comment about greed now and then, or waited a year to grace us with an eloquent reprimand on 60-Minutes. The rhetoric sans action is wearing awfully thin.

      Nothing to see here. Let’s not look back; war is messy, torture is messy; fraud is messy; mistakes were made. Move along please.

      1. bobh

        I don’t think Obama “sold out” for past or future campaign contributions from Wall Street. If he did, it was a bad move. He is losing the professors from Berkeley, who will get new Priuses in 2012 instead of giving their $2k to Obama. Most of them gave last time on credit cards in response to the daily emails from David Plouffe that went on and on about change but made no promises. Obama didn’t have to give speeches at their banquets or have department chairs call them up to make the ask. Despite all the money he got from bankers in 2007-8, Obama was in a perfect position last January to try to get out in front of a populist reaction to the crisis he inherited by wiping out failed-bank bondholders and getting the economy and financial system under control with serious reforms. If he had taken this route, a lot of his Wall Street contributors would probably have been okay with it, even if it starved their golden goose. These are smart, complicated people. Most of them have to know that what they were doing is bogus, but they can’t help doing it if nobody stops them. If Obama had shut it down, they would have gone to Tahiti for a while, or written their novel, or opened a gallery or sushi bar in Vermont with their girlfriend. I think Obama did what he did because he was frightened and overwhelmed by his new job and turned to the most powerful and confident people he knew for advice.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Fear is a useful servant but a cruel master. You may be right about Obama’s fear, but if so, he hides it masterfully.

          However commendable, I think you are too forgiving. He surely knows the prodigious power he now commands, yet he has capitulated completely on too many fronts at once—contradicting both the letter and spirit of everything he campaigned on so convincingly. Consider his stellar record to date on: NAFTA-SHAFTA, Iraq, Gitmo, habeus corpus, war crimes and torture investigations/prosectutions, extraordinary rendition, telecom immunity, ongoing secret surveillance, healthcare, gay rights, Employee Free Choice Act, arctic drilling, Iran sanctions, Israeli settlements and Palestinian statehood, climate change legislation…

          Also, consider Matt Taibbi’s “Sellout” article and the conspicuous absence of financial fraud indictments, unlike the S&L aftermath and I think the picture of capture is crystalline. Maybe Obama suffers from Hearst’s Stockholm Syndrome, but I think he’s too smart for that and not so easily cowed. Though none of us are beyond redemption, I have no benefits of doubt left for Obama. I have come to see him as the great deceiver.

          1. bobh

            Doug,
            Half of the time I agree with you and see Obama as a fraud from the beginning, but what an amazing feat to have consciously pulled off such a massive deception. The other half of the time, I see him as an overachieving A-student who got Peter-principled into deeper water than he could handle. The question is: when he sold us out did he sell himself out as well. I don’t know, but it is a sad story. He got all the way to the presidency and could have done some good. Maybe we get another chance in 2016, if things go badly enough during Romney’s first term.

        2. JasonRines

          Or the truth is far more dark in what is in store for America and you either don’t see the outliers yet or are ‘hoping’ Obama really doesn’t see Marxism as the best form of government.

  19. Blurtman

    I recall jumping out of my chair when Obama, appearing on the Jay Leno show many months back, quipped that while the financial crisis was troubling, that no crimes had been committed. WTF!!??

    Usually one conducts a lengthy investigation, or at least appears to, before reaching such a conclusion.

    It still is a crime, I believe, to misrepresent the risk of secutities that you sell. The scope of this fraud has put 20% of Americans out of work. Where, oh, where are the indictments?

    1. JasonRines

      Yeah maybe. But consider that President B.O. and Adolph Hitler both have missing father syndrome I would suspect things will be getting very ugly as the crescendo of criticism reaches into his living room every night.

  20. Doc Holiday

    Obama needs to take a point from history here and stop feeding bullshit to America and put the bankers on a diet: “excessive treat feeding and ad lib feeding are recognised causes of feline obesity.”

    Tiddles the Paddington Station Cat whose owner’s name was Lyonell Tidbit Gregson, (1970–1983) was a tabby-and-white cat who spent most of his 13-year long life in the ladies’ lavatory at Paddington Station, London, England.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiddles

    1. Richard Smith

      My wife remembers Tiddles (“horrific”). I never got the chance to inspect him, though maybe the police caution would have been worth it.

  21. Doc Holiday

    I’m sorry to lack focus and add this thought on here (after-the-fact) but Obama and his economic wizards have hooked all their doped-up banking-buddy kitties on SUPER-DOSED/ULTRA-HIGH CALORIE narcotic TARP catnip — then F’ing gutted all accounting regulations, which by any measure, allows for obese fat pig crooks to cook their books with government backing.

    I realize this new diet of “change” by Obama the chef, is an open invitation for the bountiful and gala-like feast for his friends on wall street to continue, un-interrupted, and obviously the Obama “change” is simply to add icing to the cake, and then let these pigs have their cake and eat it too … now where was I

    If Tiddles the Paddington Station Cat is to offer us anything at all,in terms of a moral lesson, I would suggest that when a fat cat President becomes too caught up in Watergate-like …. no, ….. if a FatCat President becomes too obsessed with force-feeding fatcat bankers, then something gonna blow-up … hmmmm, maybe, what if, WTF if, a fatcat President is eating the same food as the fatcat bankers, they all will become obese and have less mobility in an ever-increasingly high-speed world that will pass them by.

    Bottomline, Mr. Obama should get himself more exercise, induldge in catip (and catnaps) less frequently and stay away from the urine-stained cats whom all have feces embedded in their fur.

    1. JasonRines

      The rest of the global citizen will evolve past them but the unfortunate part is the Order folks want nothing to do with change. That means messy end of an era scenerio to me, but I am long term highly optimistic of mankind’s future.

  22. Anon

    “Please, banksters, layer more debt on to our people and small businesses. Fulfill your role. Do God’s work!”

    Putz.

    Obama, you want to do something useful, put all your weight behind loosening up bankruptcy rules.

    I’m not holding my breath.

    Putz.

    1. JasonRines

      They are doing God’s work. Someone has to pretend they are the immovable object in the ‘script’ of evolution. They take their reward in this life in full at this point in time.

  23. Tao Jonesing

    David Rosenberg has a different take on this same WSJ article and the 60 Minutes interview, one that defines the same types of concerns that Jesse has in more concrete terms. If you don’t read his articles at Gluskin Scheff, you should take a look at what he has to say today. Here are some interesting paragraphs from that article:

    ———————————-
    As a long-time reader of our research and valued friend told us over the weekend, “he [Obama] finally threw the banks under the bus”. While not suggesting the adjectives are undeserved, I am afraid that the U.S. President has invited all consumer borrowers, creditworthy or not, to abdicate their financial responsibility. We now have borrowers as victims.” Ain’t it the truth. And the consequences will be profound. Our friend reminded us that in regard to our theme of “frugality”, the current reality is that “frugal” represents just the first wave in a fundamental change in behaviour towards complete self-interest and risks morphing into something a little more troubling, such as abdication of individual responsibility.

    Meanwhile, the adjective used to describe the banks and their actions, were, in a word, scary (and if you want more on ‘scary’, read the WSJ assessment on Obama’s appearance on the television show 60 Minutes yesterday — talk about being completely out of control and inciting divisiveness — see Obama’s Slams ‘Fat Cat’ Bankers). This backlash against the banks, whose behaviour was condoned by the government when the credit and housing bubble was in full swing, is surreal.
    —————————————
    While I agree with Dave that the banks’ reckless behavior that led to the crisis was condoned by the government, I don’t find the “backlash” surreal at all because it is not in response to the banks’ past “inflate the bubble” but their current “let them eat cake” behavior, which is getting some people riled up.

    Like others here, I think what the President and the media are currently doing is not a real backlash but a kabuki dance to relieve pressure that is building up. Like Dave and Jesse, I don’t think that’s going to work out quite the way administration, the banks and the media hoped. There are too many forces causing the pressure to build that trying to address one only validates the others.

    1. Anon

      “Our friend reminded us that in regard to our theme of “frugality”, the current reality is that “frugal” represents just the first wave in a fundamental change in behaviour towards complete self-interest and risks morphing into something a little more troubling, such as abdication of individual responsibility.”

      No. All we’re seeing is people being to wake up to reality of homo economimus and behaving a little more mercenary. Like a hedge fund, private equity group, or…a bank!

    2. Anon

      Uggg…too many typos:

      No. All we’re seeing is people beginning to wake up to the reality of homo economimus and behaving a little more mercenary. Like a hedge fund, private equity group, or…a bank!

  24. Hugh

    This is just kabuki for the rubes. It is not directed at us. Just as Bush had his 23 percenters who thought to the end that he had done and could do no wrong, Obama is playing to a similar fact-free constituency in the center and on the left. These are the people who will excuse Obama because it was George Bush’s fault, Obama hasn’t been in office long enough, some problems are really complicated, they mistake the speeches for reality, the Republicans are being obstructionist, he is playing 11-dimensional chess, he is doing the best he can but he doesn’t have the votes, he is still better than John McCain, and, of course, we like being negative.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      Yes, Obama is still better than McSame. I guess that makes him McSamer?

      McSame and McSamer. Sounds like a comedy but feels like a tragedy.

  25. Blurtman

    “While I agree with Dave that the banks’ reckless behavior that led to the crisis was condoned by the government..”

    It is this type of thinking that condones crime. Imagine if using a gun to illegally take money from citizens where dismissed as “reckless behavior…” that would go unpunished.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      Actually, I believe that there was a lot of fraud involved in creating the crisis and that the people responsible should be thrown in jail. I’m just not willing to assume that everybody involved in banking was a fraudster, so I used a relatively more benign term.

  26. dfb

    I’d like to point out 1994 and the “Contract with America.” If you’ll remember, Clinton was not in Wall Street’s favor in 1994 and the Democrats lost control of Congress. He then repented and won the 96 election.

    Obama is in a similar position as Clinton at about the same time in office. Don’t think that the Clintonites (there are many in the WH) are not warning Obama about that history lesson, too.

    Obama has little real choice but to call Wall Street names while simultaneously colluding with it to not see much reform happen. Sad, too.

    I would like to see more class actions and movement by states to disavow some of the crazy derivatives products that have so many in trouble. In many cases, there is good reason to pull out the ol’ trump card and use state tort law to nullify contracts, force modification, excuse performance, or defend against enforcement. In many instances, the asynchronous nature of the information held by the sides negotiating as well as the misleading nature of many of the contracts and disclosures would lend themselves to a court finding a lack of mutual assent, that no contract was formed, or that enough information is available to excuse performance because of fraud.

  27. bruer

    I thought he was parroting Elizabeth Warren because people like her.

    My impression, Obama does not have a mind of his own in how to bring strong leadership to them, and set down deterrent, without calling them into the White House for pastries and tea.

    This guy re-appointed Bernanke to please the bank lobby contingent.

    Ask Obama to explain the importance of 5 U.S.C. § 552 to democracy and he will start talking about military grade secrecy for the Fed, is good for democracy.

  28. S Haust

    Obama is a liar! In fact he is the worst, most manipulative,
    most insidious political liar I have seen in decades. We
    have to go all the way back to Henry Kissinger and Richard
    Nixon to find any kind of realistic comparison and even
    then we don’t get the kind of bait-and-switch that this
    lousy SOB has managed to pull off.

    1. dh

      Obama gave the banksters what they wanted and now Obama is out of the loop; O needs to move out of the way and let the bankers move in the Whitehouse where they belong! I think people could deal with that reality better than watching Obama be a doormat!

  29. Sharkie

    This is getting too sick. Obama gave away the coffers of the Treasury no strings attached. And as with any gift, the bankers who received those billions are obliged to spend them any way they see fit.

    Obama knows the bonus spotlight is starting to shine through just about the same time “Obama’s Big Sellout” story breaks in The Rolling Stone Magazine. And just like another dirty-money-heaven-sent-honey turning on a dime, and right in the middle of his total currency debasement scheme, Bankers go on the White House shit list.

    Of course closing this barn door now after realizing the scope of his boondoggle will do nothing to persuade us he couldn’t have followed Europe’s lead of placing caveats on the money BEFORE it was given away but by now it is way too late and the Bankers understand this. What’s more, any attempt to further any possibilities of loaning funds out to a bankrupt populace is squelched because another brilliant academic at the Fed is paying Bankers easy interest to just let their newly acquired fortunes just sit as reserves at the Central Bank. Ah, to be a Banker today…And if this doesn’t make any sense, then you are going to really appreciate how he has done absolutely NOTHING to change Wall Street’s M.O. and the derivative nightmare picking up steam globally.

    Someday soon I hope Obama will begin to understand that there will not be a gradual habituation of the people to be governed by a conspiracy against their common good. Politicians will be held accountable for their actions. And you cannot have “risk management” without taking aim at the purveyors of that risk. In this case that would be the Bankers.

    1. Tao Jonesing

      It was actually Dubya who opened up the coffers. Obama is just keeping them opened up. Plenty of blame to go around.

  30. Uncle Festus

    Today’s evenst pretty much sum up the situation. President goes on TV and calls out the bankers as fat cats and his people suggest that come Monday morning he is going to cut them a new one.

    Come Monday morning, they don’t show up because they were “flying commercial” to appease the pitchfork crowd…but they didn’t make it cuz it was “foggy.”

    Let me ask you this, if you had a very very important meeting in the morning on a Monday….and you knew you were flying commercial….would you not fly the night before??? Think about your own actual experience. Now plug in that the meeting you were going to was with the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Maybe some folks would still risk it and take the plane in the morning….but ALL OF THEM?

    The President got completely punked today. They stood him up because they didn’t want to be in the pool photo-op picture. And his flacks came out and pretended that it was no big deal.

  31. kievite

    We should not become too extreme in this discussion as the topic reminds me classic “Personality and History” theme in sociology and history.

    In essence, no hero or villain can stop the train of history: only to slow it down or speed it up.

    See for example by Walter Dorn (http://www.jstor.org/pss/1980196) or “On Heroes, Hero-Worship, And the Heroic in History” by Thomas Carlyle.

    Paradoxically it was early Marxists who started to study this theme For example, Russian Menshevik Plekhanov (“menshevik” is the member of the minority fraction of the socialist party , the members of the majority was called Bolsheviks) wrote:

    “Their influence is sometimes very considerable but the possibility of its being exercised and its extent are determined by society’s organisation and the alignment of its forces. An individual’s character is a ‘factor’ in social development only where, when, and to the extent that social relations permit it to be….

    No great man can impose on society relations which no longer conform to the state of these forces or do not yet conform to them. In this sense, indeed, he cannot make history, and in this sense he would be trying in vain to shift the hands of his clock: he would not be accelerating the passage of time or turning it back.”

    See http://www.marxist.com/role-individual-history091205.htm

    1. Tao Jonesing

      kievite,

      You make some valid points. Effecting meaningful change in a large organization, let alone a nation, is a very difficult thing to do in the best of times. Doing so when you have lost all credibility is impossible even without a flagging economy.

      Six months ago, I was very comfortable with the Obama’s approach because I understood that change comes slowly and believed that he had probably accomplished all he could. The health insurance reform effort has substantially changed my opinion of Obama because he squandered all credibility in that discussion by bidding against himself, and it has gone downhill ever since.

      Yves’ final paragraph sums up the situation quite nicely: Wall Street openly disrespects Obama because he has been all bark and no bite. I think Obama is a very smart, articulate, caring person, but to the sharks he is swimming with, he looks like dinner. He needs to change his brand with these people, or he will get nowhere. Changing that brand will require applying the power of his office against the forces arrayed against him. Calling those forces names in order to mollify the discontented is only digging his hole deeper.

  32. Bob Falfa

    You’ve been very, very bad.

    Now please make the check out to Change you really can believe in this time.org.

  33. EP3

    GREAT POST YVES. IT’S AMAZING HOW NO ONE HAS MENTIONED THIS WHOLE “GET BIG BANKS LENDING AGAIN” THING IS TOTAL TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS AT WORK AGAIN. GIVE A BUNCH OF MONEY TO THE TOP AND HOPE THEY LET IT TRICKLE DOWN TO THE REST.

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