The Real Significance of Sandy Weill’s “Break Up Big Banks” Recommendation

The two finance personality stories of the day were Timothy Geithner’s appearance before the House Financial Services Committee for a periodic Financial Stability Oversight Council Report, and former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill’s unexpected conversion to the “smaller banking is better” faith. As Adam Levitin and Dave Dayen recount, Geithner reverted predictably to a combination of memory lapses and a “nothing to see here” stance on Libor (oh yeah, with the added wrinkle that if there was anything to see, it wasn’t his job to look anyhow). If any other grownup said he didn’t remember things as often as Geithner does, he’d be a candidate for an Alzheimer’s ward.

But on to Weill. The former acquisition king (he and Jamie Dimon did 1100 deals) who had to get the dead in practice but still on the books Glass Steagall put down so he could consummate the Travelers-Citigroup merger, today said Glass Steagall should be brought back from the dead. He made it clear he meant a full separation of commercial and investment banking, and that commercial banks should have a leverage ratio of 12 to 15 times (that’s still generous, particularly for a bank that isn’t heavily in trading businesses). He also called for an end to off balance sheet activities (this would mean, for instance, bringing credit card securitizations on balance sheet, since they’ve repeatedly been rescued when they’ve gone sour) and using only exchange-traded instruments for hedging purposes, which he called on to be marked to market.

The Wall Street Journal Deal Journal blog gave a good recap of the firestorm of reactions on Twitter. They fell into three camps: “Huh?” “Attaboy!” and ‘Oh, so he says that NOW?” Some did highlight personal motivations: Max Keiser, that Weill wanted banks broken up so he can reassemble them (since Weill apparently thinks he will live forever, he needs something to do) and Epicurean Dealmaker, that this was a way to poke at Jamie Dimon.

I hate to find myself agreeing with Charlie Gasparino (we tangled on Lehman in 2008). Per his piece in the Huffington Post (hat tip Dealbreaker):

….it’s hard to take Weill seriously. First this is a man with an ego the size of the bank he created. People who know him say he needs media attention like an alcoholic needs a stiff drink, and he’s gotten precious little of it since retiring from the banking business six years ago. Yesterday made him feel like the same old Sandy again.

This, by the way, is the kindest thing he has to say about Weill.

But I think the significance of Weil’s volte face is a bit different. It’s a reminder that talk of reform is cheap and without consequence. Would any of these former Big Names who would love to be hauled out of mothballs (ex John Reed, who never liked the limelight and I believe in genuine) be serious about advocating change if they thought it really might happen? This isn’t a sign of a break in the elites, this is at best pandering to the 99%, or adopting a faux provocative position to get some media play. Look at how the British regulators, who have been at least willing to talk tough about banking and pushed hard for a full split between depositaries and trading firms, are in deer in the headlights mode over the Libor scandal. This isn’t just being caught out at having missed a big one; there is an astonishing inability to leverage what should be seen as a God-given opportunity to put reform back on the front burner.

When I see someone like Weill or Dick Parsons putting a big chunk of their ill-gotten gains to fund lobbying or a think tank promoting tough-minded financial services reform, I’ll give the backers their due for making a sincere and serious effort to undo the considerable damage they have done. But absent that, this career death-bed conversion is a hollow and insulting gesture.

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  1. jake chase

    I happened to watch Sandy Weil’s act on CNBC and could only liken him to a retired Mafia don suddenly going soft on murder and extortion. Perhaps what troubles him is there will soon be no safe place to park the billions he squirreled away while the getting was good, or perhaps he is just another Jewish comedian who cannot relinquish the stage? Expect this to have all the impact of a fart at the Superbowl. The young looters aren’t nearly finished getting theirs, and they own all the politicians, which is what matters.

    1. Smellslikechapter11

      I agree but what does being Jewish or Italian have anything to with your point?

      1. jake chase

        Know much about Hollywood, SmellsLike? Is it still possible in your PC world to be descriptive? These comments are tough enough without worrying about offending apologists for thugs and looters.

        1. different clue

          Ooooo . . . I see what you did there, Jake Chase. You accused Smellslikechapter11 of apologising for thugs and looters in hopes to divert your readers from the fact that Smells..etc. did not apologise for thugs and looters but in fact wondered why you think Weil’s ethnic background is relevant in particular. So . . . diversion from what Smells . . etc. actually asked, and also a conscious lie with malice aforethought about Smells’s intent. Whoever else it may have worked on, it didn’t work on me.

          By the way, I read somewhere in past threads right here that Jamie Dimon is Greek-American. Perhaps his Greek culture ancestry explains his bussiness behavior?

    2. Richard Kline

      This was Weill ‘thinking about his legacy,’ nothing more.

      The financial mega-zombies as they now exist are superb organizations for destroying capital. Seriously, that is what they do best; they have little other function. Oh, they move money around, sure, money which could be moved around in other ways withouth these thalercorps. But what they do best is a) shift money from the corp to its execs by the tens of millions and b) destroy other people’s money _and their own_ by the billions and tens of billions. It’s a scream isn’t it folks, that the primary out put of the behemoth fincorps is the pixelated cinders of incinerated funds.

      —And Weill, at least is increasingly aware of this. That may be because of his enforced idleness, pastured out, where he can watch what he once did not done by others and see what it really looks like: destroying wealth at an epic pace. Weill will be dead before his personal store of treasure is wiped with the rest, but he knows his name will be a synonym for excrement when all this gets written up in a generation. So Sandy Weill wants to get on record now saying, “I did it right but these tyros are such screw-ups they need watching.” Of course Weill doesn’t intend for anything to be done, he just wants to polish his credentials for the afterlife.

      1. Leviathan

        Well said. But let’s presume for a moment that Weill is sincere (an exercise in the improbable, to be sure). Perhaps he is sufficiently far-sighted and removed from the fray to recognize a historic turning point when he sees one. Perhaps he notes that public anger at banks is now at the point of no return, and that congress-critters on both sides of the aisle are suddenly eager to get slightly ahead of this wave of anger lest it sweep them off their own corner of the stage (and then how would they insider trade to private-island money of their own?).

        It is starting to sound to me like a giant ocean liner is trying to do a 180 turn without slowing down. Does it recognize the outline of a giant iceberg looming ahead? Will its evasive action work? No one knows. But let’s appreciate that the old sea captain observing things from a deck chair may have better eyes than the current crew distracted by gizmos and gadgets and pressing immediate concerns (like strippers on the bridge). Just a thought.

      2. F. Beard

        Weill doesn’t intend for anything to be done, he just wants to polish his credentials for the afterlife. Richard Kline

        That doesn’t make sense. God isn’t fooled by insincerity.

        1. Richard Kline

          So F., you’ve seriously chewed the fat with the Old Boy on this one? Here’s a perspective to consider: organized religion in general, and monotheism in particular are social edifices bought and paid for by the wealthy as a scaffolding to justify their preeminent status. The pathetic idea that ‘God(s) sort it all out _after we’re dead_’ is jut the pablum to keep the humble rubes groveling their whole lives. Frankly, it’s irrelevant to any of us what happens after we’re dead, whether there’s a continuum or evaluation or not (a consideration so improbable that even a child wouldn’t voluntarily believe it). So if Sandy DIES holding all the happy cards, that’s good enough, if you see what I mean. What ‘afterlife’ means in that case is that his memory and fortune in the hands of his designees and/or intimates _continues to keep the humble rubes groveling before whoever inherits it, or at least the slot in the social architecture Sandy just vacated. So if we _believe_ he is sincere and he goes softly into that silk-sheeted long dark night, the purpose of said personal burnishing is served.

          If god(s) only sort it out after we are all safely insubstantiated, what does that/it really matter other than not at all? Just a thought for a summer’s day . . . and less valuable it’s conclusion, said thought, than the day’s bright hour, sez I.

        2. citalopram

          Your god, like all other gods, is mute, blind, deaf and dumb. This is especially true in the face of great evil and justice. Frankly, this silence and non action speaks volumes to me about these gods’ existences.

          1. enouf

            Please consider that even Athiests have “gods” — whether it’s themselves (secular humanists) — or adherance to and acknowlegdement of and acceptance of ‘Natural Law’ (of which, atleast is justifiable in a “rational” world view).

            Otherwise, one must claim NO LAWS exist; which science shows is Irrational


          2. skippy

            @enouf, Is it natural law or nothing?

            Skippy… Natural law is biblical law, science has nothing to do with it. One observes, the other dictates, don’t confuse the two or you might be mistaken for a cultist.

      3. Up the Ante

        Exactly, and as jake said Weill is a comedian and was simply more ‘entitled’ than others. End.

      4. Ottawan

        Dearest RKline: hate to be a fan-boy, but this time it’s justified. That little piece of text was inspiring. “pixelated cinders of incinerated funds” earns you a nomination to the Chandler-esque Metaphor Hall of Fame. You should write crime fiction!

      5. Fiver

        Entirely plausible, Richard. But there has been something about the juncture in time of the Dimon/JPM/GS/Barclays/BoE/Fed Reserve trail and the FSA/Libor/Markit trail with the EZ/ECB death dance in front of the Obama-As-Self-Redeemer election that causes me to wonder more and more if sometime this year or very early next we don’t see a far more substantial “move” on banks as part of a more active Obama early in Admin II than currently credited by anybody (not that any Presidential helping of credit for good works comes to mind). I base this on nothing concrete but this at times has a contrived feel about it I, for example, see Weill’s piece as paid advertising.

  2. MRW

    Or he read Warren Mosler’s proposal and wants to be the first to take credit for his ideas (since Mosler is so self-effacing).

    That, of course, is after reading Mosler and the rest of the Modern Monetary Theory team (kelton, Wray, Mitchell, Auerback Hudson, Black, Tchernova, Fullwiler, Minsky, Godley) while in retirement — I’m guessing — and found out that Mosler, et al, are right.

    MMT in Italy Feb 2012 (some of them)

    MMT in depth – 2010 Conference—Videos and Transcripts

    1. Walter Wit Man


      And at the risk of sounding a bit cocky myself . . .

      Weil may have been stealing from my idea that I raised here the other day, namely, to seize the 14 or so TBTF banks under eminent domain (the 5th Amendment to the Constitution). [assuming I’m the first to come up with this]

      The government would be required to pay just compensation. I would bet that the just compensation will not amount to much because many of these banks are insolvent.

      After the government seizes these banks they can wind down the bad parts and sell of the good parts (deposits, for e.g.).

      Or better yet, let’s nationalize the card payment network and reduce the fees drastically.

      1. Walter Wit Man

        And I know of course I’m not the only one with the idea to “nationalize” the TBTF banks.

        But I guess I always assumed it would be done via a bankruptcy or receivership type of way. I also always figured there would be some new legislation that would effect a nationalization.

        Using eminent domain seems simpler.

        Funny how these basic legal issues aren’t well known or discussed more often. I guess it’s “crazy” to even think of nationalization.

        1. citalopram

          Wishful thinking. Without a mass populist movement in this country, the system isn’t going to change.

          1. Walter Wit Man


            But, nevertheless, it shows how easily a simple solution could be implemented.

            Think how much better off all our lives would be if the above happened.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            And the real beauty of using this method is when all the bets each of these 14 banks have with each other is accounted for, they will probably have negative value. Therefore we can give each bank $1 in just compensation and be done with them.

            Sandy Weil has us paying just compensation on each individual home and of course the bankers are the ones that will benefit from doing it that way.

            No. Forget seizing the homes. Let’s seize the banks.

          3. different clue

            Perhaps specific ideas like this are the nucleating agents around which a Mass Populist Movement slowly assembles itself.

            The Populist Movement of the late 1800s didn’t will itself into existence and then go looking for grievances. It evolved out of people expressing grievances first and proposing genuine ideas to address them second and then forming a movement to try forcing the issue third. So there is not a think wrong with posting ideas like exactly this on blogs just like this one. People might read those ideas and say: “yeah! why not?”

        2. Walter Wit Man

          For instance, Mosler proposes resolving the zombie bank situation by using existing law and the FDIC:

          “My third proposal for the FDIC is to do its job without any assistance by Treasury (apart from funding any FDIC expenditures). The FDIC is charged with taking over any bank it deems insolvent, and then either selling that bank, selling the bank’s assets, reorganizing the bank, or any other similar action that serves the public purpose government participation in the banking system. The TARP program was at least partially established to allow the US Treasury to buy equity in specific banks to keep them from being declared insolvent by the FDIC, and to allow them to continue to have sufficient capital to continue to lend. What the TARP did, however, was reveal the total failure of both the Bush and Obama administrations to comprehend the essence of the workings of the banking system.”

          Although he seems to be saying he would simply reduce capital requirements to make them zombies rather than find them insolvent and liquidate or resolve them.

        3. Woody in Florida

          I agree we should seize the banks, but “Nationalize” them? No way do we want the Gov running the banks. Just break up the big ones, put laws in place that effectively limit the size, and let the banks become more locally involved. And please do something about those credit cards.

          1. citalopram

            I would be in favor of nationalizing them after the Republican and Democratic parties were declared criminal political organizations.

    2. Walter Wit Man

      So is Mosler running for president? Is he in a party?

      I think the changes proposed are going in the right direction and he’s better than the two dipsticks in the legacy parties.


      1. Why even have a private central bank at all? Why not have a public central bank and get rid of the fed?

      2. Why have a primarily private banking system at all? Why not at least try to tinker around the edges? Like why not propose nationalizing the payment card infrastructure? Or nationalizing or making public some basic functions, like a savings account?

      Mosler assumes [probably correctly] that it is pie in the sky thinking to think the private credit creation model will change in America: “[g]iven that the public purpose of banking is to provide for a payments system and to fund loans based on credit analysis, additional proposals and restrictions are in order . . . .” His proposed regulations under this model sound good though. But why not fly higher?

      3. I like some of his policies, like the guaranteed job, but why $8 an hour, with health care benefits? Those are slave wages in the modern economy. Plus, forget health care benefits, we need a national solution for everyone, socialized health care and/or a single payer model.

  3. Mark P.

    ‘Look at how the British regulators, who have been at least willing to talk tough about banking … are in deer in the headlights mode over the Libor scandal.’

    Look at how even more contemptibly corrupt, on the other hand, Cameron’s Tories are and how much more British regulators have to get ahead of.

    Consider, for instance, British Minister of Trade & Business Lord Ted Green, who as HSBC chief executive knowingly presided not merely over such activities as laundering of Mexican cartel money and helping aid a Saudi Arabian bank with terrorist ties, but also is on record as having facilitated transfers of money for the Tehran regime — there are minutes of an executive meeting where he discusses “the Iran question.”

    On the hypocrisy scale, Green surpasses even the likes of Weill, as he’s an ordained minister in the Church of England who during his time at HSBC liked to prattle on about banks rediscovering ethics and social responsibility. He’s also the author of a book called GOOD VALUE: REFLECTIONS ON MONEY, MORALITY AND AN UNCERTAIN WORLD.

    To be sure, you can’t buy entertainment like this. But these people are scum. Utter scum. And they are scum that has no intentions of leaving willingly.

    ‘Ex-HSBC boss Green “regrets” failures, but has no plans to quit’

    ‘Lord Green ‘regrets’ HSBC scandal but still refuses to answer questions’

    1. mary

      ‘Ex-HSBC boss Green “regrets” failures, but has no plans to quit’

      I prefer “Miss Otis regrets”

  4. rotter

    Whenever i hear geitner speaking, and see him on televison defending his monstrous self and his monstrous industry, he has all the twitchy,shifty eyed obsseive-compulsive tics of an individual wired out of his mind on cocaine or amphetamines. He posses all of the arrogant,nihilistic, sleight-of-hand distraction and blame shifting conversational strategies of recently arrested tweaker.Im not saying Timmy is a meth addict, im just saying his mind, veiwed through his eyes and and enhanced by his body language and facial expressions,appears to be howling and squirming just the same.

    1. monday1929

      In the absence of Hunter S. Thompson, I nominate this as the best “capture” of taxcheatgeithner.

    2. Up the Ante

      “im just saying his mind, veiwed through his eyes and and enhanced by his body language and facial expressions,appears to be [leading a life of self-dissipation]. ”

      fixed it for ‘ya

  5. TulsaTime

    Timmah has never been anything different in 4 years. When you are so dead inside that you don’t even pretend to perform your ‘duties’, you have arrived at a low spot indeed. He is the personification of the Obama capture, just like Paulson was for W. Well, him and Cheny.

    Too bad Volker got neutered, it would have been sweet to see him stick GS and JPM back to pre Glass days. Those days are done for, now that Barack has the fine advice of Tim n Ben

  6. middle seaman

    The point is that we need a lot of Them saying what Swill said. It’s a small step but it’s a drop of water in a desert.

  7. Conscience of a Conservative

    I thin we should take this as a mea-culpa moment and you are reading too much into his comments. Considering he was an early architect and benefactor and has seen the results why not just assume he’s seen the outcome of tearing down glass stegall and realizes it was a mistake

  8. ebear

    Perhaps. Or it could be self-positioning in advance of actual change – change not from choice, but from inevitability of circumstance, which Weill is well situated to observe.

    One thing that’s always bothered me (on this blog and many others) is the level of invective directed towards such agents as Weill. Not that they don’t deserve it, but it interferes with our ability to analyze the role they’re actually playing.

    If you want to understand something and not just react to it, you need to look at it dispassionately, as you would, for example, study the behavior of insects. In that sense, Weill may simply be responding to a signal that hasn’t yet reached the rest of the hive.


    1. LeeAnne

      Adjusting to change is he? Sounds like he’s taking lessons from the same guy as Obama. Hopey Dopey Changey Changey

      1. ebear

        Adjusting to change is he? Sounds like he’s taking lessons from the same guy as Obama. Hopey Dopey Changey Changey

        We are all adjusting to change. Some more consciously than others.

        Poke an anthill with a stick and watch how they adjust.

        Then extend the analogy.

    2. Ms G

      To call Weil an “agent” when he was Cap’n of the Ship is somewhat disingenuous. Words matter.

      1. Up the Ante

        “somewhat disingenuous” and lacking “basic cogency”, as someone said yesterday.

        1. Ms G

          But you said “agents.” Now you are slipping into “owners.” Which is it? Because Weil was an “owner” as well as a “captain.” And you know that.

        2. scraping_by

          You mean the shareholders? Those anonymous nothings professional managers claim to represent while claiming anything not nailed down as a ‘bonus?’

          When stockholders firing incompetent, venal, overpaid management becomes commonplace instead of miracle-level rare, then we’ll call them agents. Otherwise they’re the unrestrained operators who’ve grabbed control of a large hunk of impersonal assets.

    3. Susan the other

      …the war in the middle east is over, banksters can pretend that it is a mere coincidence that banking went rogue simultaneously, for over a decade, and now they want to go back to some former reality, not too clearly defined…

    4. jonboinAR

      I also find the invective on this and like blog comment sections distracting, repetitive too. I’m less interested in finding new and more creative names to call these people (“insects”) as if they care or it made the slightest difference as I am trying to figure out what to do about the problems we face.

  9. dearieme

    I take it that “Weill” is pronounced in the German fashion? That is, as “vile”.

    1. Up the Ante

      As long as you wear the facial expression communicating that emotional import, that it would be.


    2. mary

      @dearieme you’re correct.

      Lest we all forget, due to certain
      vagaries in the English language:

      Weill sounds like While but should be
      Wiener sounds like wheener but should
      be pronounced Vienner – a person from
      Vienna or “Wien”
      and Weiner should sound like whiner

      and people should be people not “folks”
      or “consumers”

      and banks should be banks not gambling

      You see how it begins?? So stop it. Each
      time you write anything or say anything:

  10. craazyman

    well, I gotta say.

    Like usual, at first I thought, “There Yves goes again, railing and ranting and fulminating, and not taking something good for what it’s worth . . . ”

    But then I thought about it, and it slowly occurred to me, “Shit! She is actually right.”

    So Mr. Weil actually has a good idea here, one that can Occupy (not pun intended, haha) his retirement, sorta like St. Paul’s second career after that little incident on the road to Damascus.

    It would keep him on TV, for sure. Maybe even Capital Account with “the Utra-Hot Lauren Lyster”. Can you imagine that? Or even Max Keiser! That’s almost as unbelievable as faking the Apollo Moon Landing. I’m sure there would be people who’d say it wasn’t really Mr. Weill, but it was life-like mannikan with a moving jaw and a microphone, some sort of cleverly staged progaganda. And I’m just waiting for the day Ms. Lyster disappears and shows up, Anna Chapman style, someplace in Moscow speaking fluent Russian after a diplomatic row that makes the front page of the New York Post. I hope the show keeps going though, as long as there’s sub-titles. I’m not sure which of these improbable scenarios would be more hilarious. Although Mr. Weill would have my respect in either case.

    1. Up the Ante

      “I’m sure there would be people who’d say it wasn’t really Mr. Weill, but it was life-like mannikan with a moving jaw .., some sort of cleverly staged progaganda. ”


      A cunning AI, a product of TIA.

      1. ebear

        >>A cunning AI, a product of TIA.<<

        That could be happening here as well. Great strides and such.

  11. aeolius

    Timmy is getting a bum rap for Libor. When it is the whole Fed system,and certainly a regional Fed was,is designed not to rap individual knuckles. As he said to the santamonious house questioner DOJ was not in this loop. Within his clearly defined mandate he seems to have gone as far as he could

    1. monday1929

      You are defending a man who stated that the “Fed is not a regulator”. And he was not immediately fired for saying that.

    2. Up the Ante

      “Within his clearly defined mandate he seems to have gone as far as he could [, preserving his essential self-dissipation before the camera]. ”

      fixed it for ‘ya

  12. Warren Celli

    You are right on with your assessment here. This is an Xtrevilism vs Evilism good cop bad cop shuffle for the rubes. The Xtrevilist aberrant sociopath, Weill, suggests going back to the Good old Evilism Vanilla Greed for Profit days and the crowd laps it up. It is meant to relax the victims as they continue to rape, murder and pillage them.

    What is significant is that it is a destruction rate balance adjustment that addresses the rubes becoming more aware via the internet. Look for more fear building distractive and diversionary fireworks in the realm. This is a well orchestrated and implemented take down of the masses.

    Meaningful change WILL NOT come from Xtrevilism or Evilism, it will only come from the people in the streets.

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. Up the Ante

      It’s part of the London fraudfest, the parking of the billionaire yachts on the Thames.

        1. Up the Ante

          That may be true.

          What’s different now is their ‘electronic servants’ who, like Barofsky preferring you not ask insightful questions, would rather you not note evidence of their ‘electronic serving’, as it were.

  13. monday1929

    It could be as simple as wishing to insure that his heirs do not have all of their (his) money stolen by the criminal edifice he engineered.

  14. Bam_Man

    Sandy Weill’s legacy will be to go down in history as one of the greatest destroyers of shareholder value in history.

    (Reverse) split-adjusted, Citi’s share price has gone from $59.00 in August of 2000 to $2.60 today. It would be zero if not for government intervention. And this is yet another company that eliminated its defined contribution pension plan in 2004 and “replaced” it with a 401(k) that had an employer “match” of 0%. Aside from the criminals in the Citi “C”-suite, there aren’t going to be many happy retirements from that place. Thanks, Sandy!

    1. Ms G

      Funny how he didn’t mention any of these main points! But that would be consistent with how he hasn’t mentioned anything about allowing Cit to claw back any of the gains he got during his disastrous-for-everyone-else tenure!

      Or did I miss the part of his public statements where he expressed contrition and said that given his new pair of glasses he cannot possibly justify holding on to all of that loot? Ha.

      1. Bam_Man

        Sandy Weill is a textbook narcissist who simply cannot accept any responsibility for his failures.

        1. Ms G

          And therefore should be shunned as a source of advice, policy, finance, or other, by any person or organization or agency with even an iota of integrity.

    2. Up the Ante

      Weill the Very Picture of Inverted Success, Smiling

      “Citi’s share price has gone from $59.00 in August of 2000 to $2.60 today. ”

      the High Priest of Reverse Engineering America [FOUND OUT !, lol]

      1. mary

        Just how many times has Citibank been
        bailed out by public funds??

        This Weil bullshit is a little too rich
        for my blood. Watching Rubin making up
        with B. Born was bad enough.

  15. jsmith

    Geez louise, this is a page right out of the puppet – sorry – politician handbook.

    Take Bubba, for example. (please, bah doom tsss)

    There wasn’t an industry he didn’t help deregulate, a free trade deal he didn’t booster for or a leftish cause they he didn’t help co-opt during his tenure.

    Oh, but since he’s been out of office?

    Why, look, kiddies, it’s Gentle Bubba here to tells us soothing fairy tales about how he really, really thinks America needs to do this and that to get back on track.

    How adorable.

    Where can I send my speaking-fee check?

    Yesterday, Elton John – hey, play any financial criminal bday parties lately, Sir, Sells-Out-A-Lot? – said that W. was really really great concerning the AIDS crisis.

    Awwwh, isn’t that sweet?

    What, will the war-criminal W. be available to speak at my local senior center about how airlifting teddie-bears into Waziristan will help end the naughty, naughy War on Terror?

    Give us a f*cking break already, propagandists.


    1. Up the Ante

      .. and yet, yet, yet, YET ! .. he wears his bug’red eyeglasses ..

      now there ^^ .. is a lol

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Js, don’t forget: The Good Puppets get DNA guaranteed payday in perpetuity.

  16. Susan the other

    Speaking of coincidences, is anybody else uneasy about the Olympics? Remember what happened last time? They delayed Lehman until after Beijing. Or so it seemed. Wouldn’t want to upset attendance at the greatest pageant of commercial nonsense vamping around in tennis shoes for capitalism.

    1. Ms G

      Thanks for the link. The suggestion that part of this is petty revenge (of the “titan” variety) for Dimon not promoting Weil’s kid daughter is unfortunately not easily dismissed out of hand given what we know about this man’s personality. Vomitous.

      I still don’t understand (and I know, I’m repeating myself across comments today!) why none of the media reporting on this Weil nonsense frontally raises the question: “Are you going to disgorge as part of your conversion?”

    2. freedomny

      That is my bet. Having worked for JPMC and experienced the effects of JD’s enormous ego, I can only imagine Sandy’s. But then again, sis was a Managing Director at Citi years ago and also experienced the culture of arrogance and greed. This is the Clash of the Ego Titans. Sandy is irrelevent in the present sense, and Dimon is the head of US’s biggest bank with his crowed “fortress” balance sheet. But I personally don’t mind Sandy pushing for a breakup even if his motives are not the same as mine, and others.

  17. mac

    Look at all the comments and you will see the manifestation of an issue of our current day. It seems no one will take a set of words for the meaning they have.
    Could it be? that the man meant what he said and said what he meant?

    1. Walter Wit Man

      If you hired a plumber to fix your toilet would you stand outside your house while he fixed it and then when he came out to present you with the bill would you accept his word about what he did or would you want to verify it?

      What if the last 5 plumbers you hired tried to rip you off and all your neighbors have been screwed by dishonest plumbers?

      What if a plumber came out and said he really, really, really, wants to fix your toilet, but it’s the gosh darn stupid Republicans that are preventing him from fixing it. Would you pay his bill because at least this plumber is telling you what you want to hear?

      I suggest you get a plumber that is willing to do the job and then pay him only if he actually performs that job or dies trying.

      If you vote for either a Democrat or Republican you are a sucker that will never be able to fix your toilet. You’re too fixated on the bullshit words coming from your plumber’s mouth rather than making him fix the fucking toilet.

      1. Crazy Horse

        Or what if the plumber on your new 50 million dollar yacht plumbed it so every time you flushed the toilet in your gold leaf and marble master bath the sewage came up through the sink? Fact!

          1. Crazy Horse

            I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you or the ten full time guards on board with Uzis would take care of us both.

    2. Rcoutme

      Um…let’s see. {Thinks about it for a little while} Nope, it can not. Why not? Because the sleazeball wiped out the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands if not millions and has done nothing personally to alleviate any of that. He wiped out his corporation while taking millions of dollars.

    3. LeeAnne

      Sandy Weill would like your telephone number. He has a Greek island he’d like to sell ya.

    1. Ms G

      My question too.

      And it should be a question that every media pundit he’s rounded up for his lame “coming back out” party asks him.

      Instead, deafening silence because the dog is not barking.

      Just one — if only just one of those media people would ask him. If I could afford to take out a full page ad in the NYT and the WSJ and the FT asking him if he’s going to consent to Citi clawing back his looted $XXX,XXX,XXX,XXX.00 I would.

      1. Up the Ante

        “his lame “coming back out” party ”


        “back out”, visibly aroused, lol, and covered with filth, filth that he takes great insane pleasure in, wearing his autistic smile.

        And note that he does this when ‘permitted’ to do so .. during the London fraudfest.

        1. Up the Ante

          The London fraudfest ‘permitting’ such presentations, do you think it’s possible they feel it’s proper to ‘celebrate’ their High Priest of Reverse Engineering America .. during the London Olympics ?

    2. Ms G

      Leonova, how about “Disgorge or s**t up and go back to watching CNN in your mansion.”

  18. hermanas

    Geithner sounded like Blankfein, “doing God’s work” and Weill like Martin Luther having a coversion.
    Is this just more religious war?

  19. Hugh

    This is another example of the Great Man Speaks. It is like 2 + 2 = 4 can only take on real meaning and truth if a designated great person says it. We see this a lot. Weill talks about bringing back Glass-Steagall. Buffett talks about financial instruments of mass destruction. Soros talks about reflexivity. Krugman talks about depression. Greenspan talks about mistakes made. Gates talks about education reform. We all ooh and aah. And then they all go back to looting the country or enabling that looting.

    Unlike Yves, I don’t think creating a center or institute would show any real commitment. Soros funded INET (Institute for New Economic Thinking), but as far as I know INET remains neoliberal with a few tweaks in its outlook. It has never taken on or even acknowledged the three great issues of our times: kleptocracy, wealth inequality, and class war. I can not see it as ever being anything other than Establishment liberal in its outlook, that is validating the current system while allowing some criticisms of it (think of Krugman as the exemplar of this type).

    1. Ms G

      Regarding the significance of founding institutes. Rudin founded Hamilton. I don’t think that changes anything about what he did to this country.

  20. Crazy Horse

    On second read and watching Weill’s interview over again I have to disagree with Yves’ and the majority of commentators assessment. So Weill is a sandy piece of human excrement. He is a Bankster after all.

    List the policy changes he advocated. Are any of them not a Good Thing? (And they might even represent a 10% step in the changes that must take place if Vampire Capitalism is to die its deserved death?)

    When Yves, with her years of experience and intelligence, advocates the same reforms it has all the impact of throwing a bucketful of sand onto the beach. If Crazy Horse says the same thing the impact is more like a single molecule of sand. But Sandy Wiell, Mr. Bankster himself, inventor of the banking supermarket—- now there is a license for Congresswhores to start asking the questions that their junior staffers put on their desks. All politicians know that the so-called masses have figured out that the financial system is rigged, so talking about it might rake in a pile of votes. And the mainstream media have a new subject for their clueless commentators to start prattling about.

    So yes, what Sand Weill says is important because it opens the door to what is legitimate discussion in our system of managed communication and propaganda.

    And Twitchy Timmy will have to double his daily dosage of the meth/cocaine speedball that keeps him going. His drug dealer will make more money, and Timmy just might overdose and pass on to a much hotter world. How is that not a good thing?

    1. different clue

      If I understand Yves Smith correctly here, I believe she is saying that he only said this as a kind of empty gesture to us rubes and an inside joke to the other topside insiders who pre-know in advance that no such steps will ever be taken. The empty gesture of having The Great Man say it is meant to make the restless natives restful again . . . hearts melting with gratitude that The Great Man will deign to say these things in public.

      Now! . . given that The Great Man has said these things in public, is there a way for the restless natives to stay restless and figure out how to weaponise Weils’s words and leverage them into pain and pressure against the system lords who live to prevent these Words from being made Policy?

  21. JEHR

    I just saw Barofsky being interviewed on CNN. He was asked to name the names of the bankers that should be criminally charged. He back-tracked so fast it would make your head spin. As a prosecutor, he said, he couldn’t name names until he had read the evidence (or words to that effect).

    I must say he looked a bit taken aback. So no one will name names even though there have been many reports about who caused the financial crisis. Is everyone afraid of being sued for libel? How can that be? The real bad guys should be named: Mozilla, Blankfein, Dimon, etc., all the CEOs and CFOs of the TBTF.

    1. scraping_by

      Yes, well, if he’s really a threat to the elites, it’ll be sex. None of this libel business, something about sex that he may or may not have done.

      And then what? Go on CNN to with Spitzer to get kicked like a dog for disagreeing with the Washington Consensus? Head down, wait for the weak spot.

      1. different clue

        And if not sex, maybe a micro-predator dronelet. Or some stray anthrax. Or some cancer juice. Or a mugging gone wrong or a burglar inconveniently “caught in the act”.
        There are lots of ways to assassinate someone like Barovsky and make it look like anything the super-rich want to make it look like. And maybe they have already told Barovsky all about it.

    2. Up the Ante

      “Barofsky being interviewed on CNN. .. He back-tracked so fast ..”

      Can’t name banksters, can’t criticise his former employer the Justice Dept.

      He’s got a few details to sell while asking you to avoid insightful questions on his degree of commitment.

  22. Adam

    Credit card securitizations have been on-balance sheet since Jan. 1, 2010 under SFAS 166-167, and full regulatory capital must now be held against them.

    FASB did what the bank regulators didn’t have the stomach to do despite clear evidence of implicit recourse in credit card ABS (and similarly, the SIVs).

  23. LeeAnne

    The news is not anything Weill said. The news is that the perp came out from behind the curtain to say anything.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Ha! I can’t recall remembering any recollections at all; nothing comes to mind that I can think of at the moment. Criminals like Gonzo and Timmy always suffer acute early-onset Reaganitis.

  24. LeeAnne

    is that great editing or what? lots of laughs -I particularly love the expression on Senator Jeff Sessions’ face starting at about 1:38

  25. freedomny

    Question – I am currently living a debt free lifestyle right now. Paid off the mortgage and pay off my credit cards every month.

    This month when I paid off my Chase card in total, they charged me 2.00 for “accrued interest”. I have never been charged this with any other credit card that I had paid off in total…which I do monthly.

    I can’t believe how apesh##t I went. I spent an hour on the phone with customer service to get them to reverse this charge.

    Told them I would report Chase to the Consumer Financial Protection Agency…or whatever it is called.

    The customer representative said he would “forgive” this charge…but, but…

    The point of this story is that I, working in the financial industry, obviously have so little faith in it. I feel that most of them will try to rip me off in a red hot second…in increments of 2 dollars. I feel they are counting on me and others…will be just too busy to challenge them.

    Which is why I spent an hour out of my busy day to challenge a bank about a 2 dollar fee.

    The question is…would you do the same?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      f, imagine that little hit per day x one million. “Short term profits.” “Bonus.”

    2. enouf

      Ofcourse, yes — question is why haven’t you yet;

      – Taken all your $ (business) away/out of that cesspool?
      – Spoken to atleast a manager and told them you were doing so
      – Use a Credit Union or much smaller local bank
      – Filed a Civil Suit against the pond scum for Fraud and Restitution demanding recourse and punitive damages for your 1 hr. of labor and distress (which you happen to bill at 1 Million USD per hour).


    3. Walter Wit Man

      I spent at least a couple hours getting the runaround with a Office Depot gift card someon gave me. It had zero value on it and we finally figured out that the clerk probably stole the $50. I was finally able to talk to the store manager (after getting directed back and forth between the 3rd party administrator for the gift card and the company). At my insistence she checked the register and confirmed someone bought a $3 gift card card “case” right after the $50 was loaded on the gift card. So the clerk probably paid for the case with the gift card and pocketed the $47 and gave my brother an empty gift card.

      Anyway, after giving me the runaround I finally threatened to sue them for fraud in small claims court (I was telling the poor lady that she was “furthering the fraud” by refusing to honor this card after they had admitted their clerk stole the money and I demanded responsible employee names so I could name them personally in this suit)–and they finally agreed to give me my money back. They even gave me a extra $50 card but I didn’t even follow through to collect it–I guess I was satisfied to finally win after a few hours and probably 6 or 7 different phone calls.

      But yeah. American capitalism run amuck. Most people are just going to eat the $50.

  26. Juan Manuel

    Perhaps Weil was literally just answering the question as honestly as possible. Maybe in hindsight, and after making all his money, he can admit that simpler is better and that the only logical thing to do at this point is to split up investment banking from commercial banking. Eliot Spitzer said Weill’s about-face “changes the entire debate about bank restructuring and puts enormous pressure on those who continue to maintain a broken system.” Perhaps old man Weil is senile and is yelling out “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” and this is one of those moments in history when the emperor (capitalism) is naked.

  27. SH

    Very nice twist Yves. For some reason I finally got to Bookstaber’s book and aside from tight coupling and complex systems that book also tells a little history on Weil.

    I’ve read a lot of the other ones too, but my ear is up close to a good lambasting. I like your take on this one.

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