Soliciting Nominations for the FEMA Awards for Exceptional Financial Crisis Management

We are in the process of seeking recommendations for our inaugural FEMA Awards for Exceptional Financial Crisis Management. We must thank our reader Swedish Lex for providing the inspiration for establishing these prizes.

We are looking for nominees in each category. We have provided some illustrative candidates for specific prizes. Readers are also encouraged to suggest additional categories if they feel we have overlooked noteworthy types of crisis behavior that are worthy of recognition.

Our initial categories:

“Heck of a job, Brownie” Award for the most extreme example of chief executive praise of a failed performance.

Excellence in Banker Fellation Award. It may be hard to beat Barack Obama defense of Jamie Dimon’s and Lloyd Blankfein’s 2009 bonuses (which were due in large measure to the munificence of the Fed as well as Timothy Geithner’s no-stress stress tests and related cheerleading): “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen…I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”

Playing Russian Roulette With All Cylinders Loaded Award. A candidate-rich category. Those using this strategy optimistically expected similar happy outcomes:

Leadership in Unforced Errors Award. This should go to the nation or the political block that is fastest in dismantling hard gained strategic geopolitical advantages vis-à-vis competitors like China and Russia for no obvious short-term gain.

Spinning Founding Fathers in Their Grave Award. Sure to be hard fought, given entrants like the US Citizens United decision assuring rule by banksters versus the Greek Parliament agreeing to sell the Parthenon.

Dead Horse Flogging Award. The Fed’s efforts to blame the crisis on the Chinese (aka the “savings glut” theory) rather than letting the inmates run the asylum goes here.

World Cup in Kicking the Can Down The Road Award. Contenders include the numerous rescue plans for Greece, the ostrich approach to chain of title issues in the US, extend and pretend on US second lien valuations, and QEs 1-Omega to prop up US asset prices.

“What We Do in Life Echoes in Eternity” Award. The single most damaging decision. Remember General Maximus also directed his troops to “unleash hell”.

And finally, a grand prize of sorts:

Greatest Ineptitude Under Fire

Reader input welcome!

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  1. Sundog

    Along with celebrities, team sports get lots of attention. Might we not have awards that explicitly recognize groups of people?

    My nomination goes to the team advising Obama on the financial system and its relation to the larger economy between Iowa 2008 and his inauguration. He hit the ground flailing and his team deserves recognition.

  2. Sundog

    I hope the Dead Horse Flogging award is taken seriously.

    Even absent the excesses of risk mispricing in the mid-naughties (see sovereign spreads, cov-lite corp debt, let alone accounting chicanery and criminal behavior among financial institutions and those meant to regulate them), the combination of massive imbalances and stretched energy supplies would have put paid to the Great Moderation.

    I nominate Michael Spence.

  3. K Ackermann

    The Hoocoodanode Award for Analytical Excellence

    The lifetime achivement award for this category would have to be reserved for Alan “it-turns-out-my-thought-process-is-wrong” Greenspan.

    What about the Banker Autofellation award? Goes to God’s favorite employee, Lloyd Blankfein.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Agreed. As supreme deregulator and lynchpin of the bankster cartel, Greenspan earns the lifetime achievement “Hoocoodanode Award” hands-down, especially in pimping for mortgage ARMs in the midst of the housing bubble. And even if the Banker Autofellation award goes to Blankfiend, Greenspam at least merits a related and almost as coveted award — Most Cunning Linguist.

  4. Middle Seaman

    The I don’t see any unemployed award
    The most like FDR and JFK award
    The austerity is in the constitution and if not let’s amend award
    The in the end even the rich are toast award

    1. Cedric Regula

      Important awards have to look like an Oscar trophy.

      Otherwise people won’t think this is important.

      So I propose an Ayn Rand statue, holding an uprooted Chicago Parking Meter – and pointing it like a scepter towards the sky (that’s where god lives, btw).

  5. David


    So many worthy candidates it is hard to chose.
    For the “What We Do in Life Echoes in Eternity” Award,
    I nominate Obummer’s decision in early 2009 to continue with TARP and backstopping the TBTF banks instead acknowledging that those banks were and are insolvent and that they needed to be broken up in an orderly fashion. This decision led to the greatest transfer of wealth in history from the poor and middle class to the wealthy and an economy that may take decades to recover.

  6. Psychoanalystus

    Strategic defaulters for Dead Horse Flogging Award

    We-do-God’s-Worker” Lloyd Blankfein for “What We Do in Life Echoes in Eternity” Award

    Greedy unemployed subprime borrowers for Playing Russian Roulette With All Cylinders Loaded Award

    David and Charles Koch for Spinning Founding Fathers in Their Grave Award

    Angela Merkle for Excellence in Banker Fellation Award
    Note: Angela Merkle should also be considered for an award honoring her first-class Germanic cleavage.

    GOP for Leadership in Unforced Errors Award

    1. Thomas Barton, JD

      How do greedy unemployed subprime borrowers get their money ? Did they hijack the brains of the bank loan officers and mortgage loan officers in a fiendish plot to enrichen the bankers and mortgage people with their fees and subsequent bonuses based on the greater and greater securitization of these moronic loans to people . Perhaps I misunderstand your sarcasm. I am sick of hearing about individuals stealing the system blind when the system was manned by greedy criminals who were lining their own pockets with each criminally negligent transaction and bundle this junk up into another securitization, Monty.

    2. YankeeFrank

      Your contrarian lameness never ends… and apparently you are now a sexist douchebag as well.

  7. attempter

    Leadership in Unforced Errors ought to go to the “progressives”, in particular the so-called Progressive Caucus, still the largest nominal bloc in Congress.

    To this day it’s true that this caucus could have blocked most or all of the worst bills passed in recent years, and/or could have forced significant improvements in them.

    Instead, out of depraved loyalty to Obama, and because they’re damned liars when they claim to be progressives at all, they’ve pretended to cave in at each and every point. (But they haven’t really caved in. They’re merely cynical criminals doing their masters’ bidding, and calling themselves “progressives” is their particular scam.)

    The corrupt “progressive” NGOs, on every issue, have helped with this big swindle. They astroturf the rank and file into supporting the system.

    So the award for unforced errors really goes to this rank and file, since their Leaders are actually conscious criminals and therefore aren’t committing errors at all.

  8. brian t

    For the “World Cup in Kicking the Can Down The Road Award”, I nominate Ireland’s Brian Cowen: he was Finance Minister from 2004-8, during which time he completely failed to spot the most gargantuan property bubble in the history of this or just about any other country, and embarked on a massive social spending spree just in time for the 2007 elections.

    As a reward for his incompetence, he became Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in 2008, and that year he oversaw the imposition of a blanket guarantee of all bank assets, including those of foreign bondholders. His successor as Finance Minister, the recently-departed Brian Lenihan, played a part too, but Cowen set the agenda. So in come the “austerity” measures, just what a country in recession needs to lift its spirits.

    The can-kicking came to a head in late 2010, when the European Central Bank had to step in with an emergency bailout package, kicking the can even further down the road. It’s only a matter of time before Ireland’s in the financial headlines again. Cowen and his party were defeated in the 2011 elections, so now he can safely spend all night in the pub, with little fear that his boozy brainstorms will crash the stock market in the morning.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Ireland deserves an award ceremony all of its own — after all we deserve it.

      The most prominent being the ‘Scared into action by foreigners with intimidating accents’ award. Lenihan takes it — sorry to say. Or maybe we could name it after him and give it to Noonan (Ouch… that’s going too far…).

      Lenihan is a prime contender for the ‘Self-flagellation in public award’.

      While Enda Kenny surely has to receive the ‘Heroic statesman in his own head, ineffectual conformist coward in reality’ award.

      Now, we just need to line up tax-dodging Bono and his idiotic mate Geldof for the ceremony and we have a winner. I’ll bring the low-priced cans of beer.

      1. Philip Pilkington

        Sorry, COWEN is up for the ‘Self flagellation in public’ award. A great honour.

      2. ambrit

        Mr Pilkington;
        Say it ain’t so Philip! Beer in cans!?!? In Ireland? How could you all have sunk so low!?
        (Not being able to get the local brewery to deliver ale in tuns I can understand. Your credit is shot after all. But cans? Please, you would remove any frisson of exclusivity with that move alone!)

  9. allan

    How about a `Academic Most in the Tank’ Award?
    Fred Mishkin and Glenn Hubbard are no longer eligible,
    due to their star turns in `Inside Job’,
    so early leading contenders would include John Cochrane, Casey Mulligan
    and Greg Mankiew. The team version of the award will go annually to the University of Chicago by default.

  10. Earl Grey

    Let us not leave out the all important “Too Big to Fail” award which goes to the company that rashly made the most nonsensical aquisitions simply to grow itself large enough to guarantee a government bailout rather than the “Lehman treatment”.
    I nominate Bank of America.

    1. ambrit

      My Lord;
      May I nominate the United States itself for attempting to ‘hegemonize’ Iraq and Afghanistan?

  11. FEMA Trailers

    The awards go to ‘Murica itself! We tolerate a violent police state, enjoy our wine and meat as others suffer in prison or in the street, and we sleep as we hurtle towards Nationalism and Facism. God Bless you Jamie Dimon, for giving people what you think you owe ’em!

    ” Poor urban neighborhoods, which bear the brunt of the estimated 40,000 SWAT team assaults that take place every year, have already learned what is only dimly being understood by the rest of us—in the eyes of the state we are increasingly no longer citizens with constitutional rights but enemy combatants. ” – Hedges

  12. Philip Pilkington

    And surely you can’t have an awards ceremony with the obligatory award for ‘Excellence in achievement in the field of contorted misdirection’.

    I’ve got a design prepared and everything:

    We might have to send one to everyone in the Tea Party though, which might complicate matters significantly… I’d nominate David Cameron if we were to go international, though.

  13. AR

    How about the Look Over There Award for reassigning FBI white collar crime investigators to Counterterrorism units that infiltrate vegan potlucks, while letting Wall Street crash the economy?

    I believe we may have one in our Transition group who actually does work at FEMA (since 1987!!), and contributes to discussions with the statement “I have no opinion.” He’s also a member of the ‘local foods’ group, and once brought KFC to one of our potlucks!

  14. lambert strether

    No “Best Grabber With Both Hands” category? (DSK is already a lifetime award holder, so no new nominations please!)

    And how about “Best Getter While The Getting Was Good”?

  15. Richard

    How about the “Help me Mr. Wizard” Award? Awarded to that government official who most frequently calls Wall Street to find out what they should do next.

    This is a very tough award to win. Witness the last two Treasury secretaries who have had Wall Street on speed dial.

  16. hermanas

    “Excellence in Banker Fellation Award. It may be hard to beat Barack Obama defense of Jamie Dimon’s and Lloyd Blankfein’s 2009 bonuses…”
    All we needed was a photo.

  17. Cedric Regula

    World Cup in Kicking the Can Down The Road Award

    This one must be shared equally among all major world governments. Anything else would be favoritism.

    For instance Japan had a clear lead, but then we and europe caught up. China, behind in the race when the housing bubble popped in the US and europe(ok Germany didn’t have one – just their banks), lets see…created a RE bubble to fix the slowing export economy. They should catch up any day now and have to do something with their banks. I wonder what.

    With play like that how can you pick a winner?

  18. Susan the other

    Maybe something to honor Lifetime Achievement in the category of economic analysis in incomprehensibility. Say the Greenspan Lifetime Farthead Achievment Award.

  19. Cedric Regula

    These are all backwards looking categories and will take much digging around in a huge pile of factual history in order to make awards in a fair manner.

    But we should have a forward looking category too (just one).

    “Most Likely Political Action Coming In The Near Future.”


    Congress increases number of seats from 535 to 700 in order to better serve banking industry.

    Something like that.

    1. ambrit

      How about the NSA adds a ‘moderating’ function to its data mining operations in the telecom field?

  20. A_MacLaren

    FTW under “World Cup in Kicking the Can Down The Road Award”

    1st: FASB and FAS 157 enabling asset holder to Mark to Make Believe asset valuations.

    Close 2nd: JC Trichet on Portuguese Bonds.

  21. Kim Kaufman

    Excellence in Banker Fellation: Andrew Cuomo – for using gay marriage in the same way the right has used this issue — to make, in this case the left, look the other way while Cuomo throws unions and the middle class under the bus while refusing to tax the bankers in NY.

  22. ambrit

    In honor of the late Claude Rains (the Vichy functionary in ‘Cassablanca,’):
    The “Arrest the Usual Suspects” Award.
    My present noninees, the Thames Valley Police for only focusing on the small fry in the HBOS fraud investigation.
    Second nominee, the USArmy Provost Marshals office for convicting and sentencing a couple of hapless enlistedmen and women for Abu Ghirab.

    The “I’m Just a Poor Corrupt Official” Award.
    This is a no brainer. Everyone who served in or worked for the Government and then uses the ‘Revolving Door’ to bag a lucurative position as a Lobbyist or ‘Consultant.’

  23. psychohistorian

    How about the best obfuscation of reality with opposable thumbs (excuse me, now both hands) award…..or maybe it is a shills at the margin award.

    The top award in all catagories needs to go to the inherited rich that continue to convince the masses that they are not the problem.

  24. hermanas

    Thanks for the Sunday morning comics all.
    ‘cept Fema Trailers-that wasn’t funny.

  25. small_business_guy_1

    How about an (positive) award:

    The “Diogenes ‘You Want Me To Go Out And Look For WHAT???” award:


    Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA)
    Ms. Brooksley Born

    It was a hopeless fight, but some times you just got to say “screw it” and go for it.

    Both are nominated for trying (back in 1998) to create some regulation of derivatives (See link for the short version of the story:

  26. Hugh

    Heck of a job, Brownie Award: Obama on Larry Summers: “I will always be grateful that at a time of great peril for our country, a man of Larry’s brilliance, experience and judgment was willing to answer the call and lead our economic team. Over the past two years, he has helped guide us from the depths of the worst recession since the 1930s to renewed growth. And while we have much work ahead to repair the damage done by the recession, we are on a better path thanks in no small measure to Larry’s wise counsel. We will miss him here at the White House.”

    Excellence in Banker Fellation: Barack Obama with the Democratic and Republican parties tied for second place.

    Playing Russian Roulette With All Cylinders Loaded: 1) Leaving the financial sector unreformed, uninvestigated and unprosecuted. 2) The current deficit debate

    Leadership in Unforced Errors: 1) Hands down the US. Went in 20 short years from winning the Cold War and being the planet’s sole hegemon to banana republic. 2) The Eurozone’s ongoing slow motion train wreck. 3) Japan: The Toyota recalls tarnished but Fukushima destroyed the Japanese brand built over 40 years

    Spinning Founding Fathers in Their Grave: I’d say the whole government. But we need to distinguish. If we are really talking about just the Founders, then I would say the Executive branch which has taken on all the arbitrary powers of the monarchy and tyranny they rebelled against. If we are talking the Framers, then it is clearly the Congress. The Framers wrote the Constitution according to what they thought was most important. Congress is Article I. The Executive is Article Two, and the Judiciary is Article III. Congress was supposed to be the center of the republic instead it has become its circus.

    Dead Horse Flogging: Both parties for pushing austerity in a slowing economy. Sentimental favorite: Paul Krugman for always blaming Republicans when the Democrats are just as guilty.

    World Cup in Kicking the Can Down The Road: Among the US, China, and Europe, I would have to give the edge to Team Obama, but this is a close one.

    What We Do in Life Echoes in Eternity: 1) Any bullsh*t speech of Barack Obama, 2) Astro-turfed Tea Party rhetoric, 3) Veal pen progressives

    Suggested category: Snake in the grass: Barack Obama. Lifetime achievement award in this area: Mitch McConnell.

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