Neil Barofsky on Pandit and Obama Administration Bankster Friendliness on Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers was taken enough with his chat with former SIGTARP chief Neil Barofsky that he’s having two segments with him. This is the first, which focuses on the Vikram Pandit sudden exit and Citigroup generally as well as the Obama Administration’s finance friendly policies.

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    1. steelhead23

      Can’t happen so long as we live in a corporatocracy. Please note, Obama is a part of that culture. Romney is that culture. I note that Obama openly failed his progressive constituency by not siding with Barofsky, by his various usurpations of power, and his international adventurism, yet hardly a whimper emanated from the Democratic Party establishment – no one chose to challenge him in a primary. Barofsky as AG is a wonderful dream, but is absolutely impossible in our current two-headed, corporate-owned political system. Vote for Stein.

      1. Carol Sterritt

        We are splitting the vote in our household – ‘ll be voting for Jill, while my husband votes for Rocky.

        We don’t feel we can afford four more years of another damn Republicrat. Obama cannot get our vote merely because he “appears” more genial and outgoing than Rmoney. The fact remains, the second he appointed Tim Geithner, he was a willing accomplice in the ongoing extinction of the Middle Class.

          1. nonclassical

            here’s one reason:

            In the last of our exclusive “Expanding the Debate” series, we bring you highlights of our coverage of last night’s final presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, with the added voices of third-party candidates. As Obama and Romney faced off for the last time before the general election, we once again broke the sound barrier by inserting Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party into the discussion. In an evening focused on foreign policy, both Obama and Romney shared wide agreement on issues including support for the Israeli government, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria. But they clashed over a few key points, including military spending, negotiating with Iran, and responding to the Libyan embassy attack. Before a live audience in San Rafael, California, we aired the Obama-Romney debate and paused the tape to give Stein and Anderson a chance to respond in real time to the same questions put to the major-party candidates.


    2. Susan the other

      Yes. The difference between Barofsky and Holder would be like night and day. And I think the difference between Barofsky and Greg Smith is also night and day. Barofsky is a soldier. Smith is a conscientious objector. When Barofsky says the collapse is coming I wonder though, since it seems it already came and merely lingers. Maybe the end of the collapse will come. If all it takes is 50 Bn to bring down JPMC, he’s probably right, the system is too fragile to go on and the final acceptance that the system is gone is coming soon. Not with a bang but a whimper. Not by its own outright corruption but politically via campaign contributions. That is going to be karma. I do get the distinct feeling that the bailouts were, at least partially, blackmail. Half blackmail, half panic.

  1. Me

    I thought it was a good interview, but I do have a number of problems. For one, I don’t usually here (outside of people like Michael Hudson) a more systematic critique of finance. It isn’t just about “incentives”. The fundamental problem is that finance has taken over the entire economy. Financial profits are a much larger percentage of overall domestic profits than decades ago. Private debt has also exploded, which goes hand in hand with the financialization of the economy. You can’t work or reform this monster. The financial system is going to have to be fought head on, its power and wealth greatly reduced. After all, its wealth comes from the poverty of industry, workers, government.

    Also, it would be nice if a public option in finance was taken seriously and talked about. We are light years away from that being a realistic possibility, but its a conversation that needs to happen. It is one of the means of taking on finance that is needed. A public bank that would get rid of these damn parasites.

    Good interview though. I guess it isn’t fair to criticize him entirely given the format here. If he wanted to give this type of critique he would need more than the 20 minute segment here. I like the fact that Barofsky is around doing what he is doing. Same obviously goes with Moyers.

    1. Carla

      “Also, it would be nice if a public option in finance was taken seriously and talked about.”

      Actually, a lot of people across the country are talking about public banking and taking it very seriously. I think Ellen Brown has been on Moyers’ show, but perhaps he should have her on again– SOON.

      “We are light years away from that being a realistic possibility,” I don’t agree. It could happen a moment after the next financial crisis. People are preparing.

      “but it’s a conversation that needs to happen”
      And it’s happening now. Go to, peruse the site, and be sure to click on the Blog tab.

      BTW, thanks to Yves for posting the Barofsky interview. My “enlightened” public radio station airs Moyers at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night, not an ideal viewing time for moi.

      1. Me

        “Actually, a lot of people across the country are talking about public banking and taking it very seriously.”

        I should have been a little clearer. I am well aware that people have talked about this, Yves is one. What I meant was those within the dominant institutions in our society. However, a lot of people around the country, going back over a century, have been talking about the fraud that is neo-classical economics. It has been obvious for a very long time that the whole edifice has to be ditched. Is that in the cards any time soon?

        “I don’t agree. It could happen a moment after the next financial crisis. People are preparing.”

        I hope you are right. I just don’t see it. Is there any chance it would be set up as a means to replace or at least lessen the power of private financial parasites? Given the complete corruption in this government, I don’t see it. I am totally on board in supporting it and will check the site out. I just think this political system is broken beyond repair, as is the economic system. I hope the damn economic system crashes and burns soon and quickly cause right now we are dying slowly and painfully.

        Whenever a system collapses, whenever dominant institutions collapse, what take their place are the dominant institutions and groups left standing. In this country, that wouldn’t be progressive forces in any way. It would be rentier interests of all sorts, the military (private militaries too), it would be various business groups who have horrible human rights records elsewhere, gun nuts, the military industries, militias and the like. Unions are weak, the left doesn’t really exist here anymore. We’ve got a bunch of neo-liberals who call themselves progressive because they are cool with gay folks. Its sad, and I hate to be a pessimist, but it does have all the ingredients of a fascist society. Has for some time for that matter.

        1. patricia

          You are somewhat illogical regarding systemic collapse because the system already in place is racing towards complete rentier, military-subversion, corporations with terrible human rights, etc. If/When that collapses, there will be a strong reaction against it. The reaction might be merely a different rendition of fascism, sure, which happens more often than not (at least initially) in these kinds of situations, but it is not at all inevitable.

          When you write that you wish the system would crash soon and quickly, you make the fascistic response more certain. A slow and painful destruction allows more citizens to wake up, learn/understand, and work out different solutions. The only thing that defeats fascism is citizen action. I’m all for slow.

          Hope is almost irrelevant. It’s just a pleasant feeling about the future. What we need is hard work from all of us who are clear on the matter. Right now. You. Me. Them.

          1. ZygmuntFraud

            I think a potentially useful analogy is to speak of “pariah assets”. After sub-prime backed bonds began late payments//default, this class became “pariah assets”. The existence of illiquid “pariah assets” tends to lead to a lack of trust on credit lines between major players in the finance world.

            The band-aid was enthusiastic Central Bank lending/credit, and partly ban bailouts and/or quasi-nationalisations.

            In the future, another class of “pariah assets” could appear: innovation is the key to chaos (hehe).

            The next grand liquidity/solvency crisis could come from any number of asset classes. The leverage is just too high …

          2. Me

            The system HAS been collapsing slowly. 60,000 factories have closed in the last decade. Wages haven’t grown in a generation. Finance has taken over the economy, private debt has exploded. Wealth and incone inequality has increased steadily. People don’t seem to have learned much, at least not enough to change much of anything. Its best at this point if the thing just collapsed. If things are going to change for the better maybe its best for a shock to hit people. Much harder to identify causes when the decline is slow and gradual.

          3. patricia

            Me, you are right, the system has been slowly collapsing for a long time. But even though the mass of citizens doesn’t understand much, there are many tucked here/there who do and are working hard. We don’t know what the masses will do when finally confronted with the fait accompli but there will be some well-established responses to which they can turn, if they don’t become (totally) run over by blind reactivity.

            Yes, “slow and painful” is more confusing and that is a real problem. But it goes both ways. Who knows how it will turn out?

            But I wish for you more anticipation and less despair.

        2. George

          All good points… and your implication about how identity movements have sucked the life of a broader radical response is well-taken. Watching LGBT, Inc., swoon over Goldman Sachs for supporting same-sex marriage makes me blush to be homosexual.

      2. Aquifer

        Watch out that “public banking” doesn’t morph into a “public banking option” and get totally neutered as did the “public option” in health care –

        To tell you the truth, i am beginning to wonder if the idea of private banks is about as useful as private health insurance …. My sorta rule of thumb, or big toe, is if society has determined a particular function is vital or “systemically important” for its survival, it should be under public control – so all we have to do is sit down and decide which functions ARE indeed that vital – we, the public will keep those, and the “privates” can fool around with the rest …. So if you are a “private” and you claim, or in fact have made, your function (to be) that vital, then prepare to hand it over to the public. If you are, indeed, “too big to fail” then you are too big to be left in private hands …

    2. Aquifer

      I see this critique all over – “need to see the big picture”, but all politics is personal – that can’t be repeated often enough ….,

      For a guy clearly as smart as Barofsky to say that he expected Obama to clean things up is extraordinary to me …. The handwriting was on the wall (street) before O ever took office …. But now he has had his eyes opened – the question is what will he do with his new found wisdom – going on Moyers and saying the things he did is a first step, but that is not enough. Wendell Potter had his own “enlightenment” as well and went on to become an activist …

      That to me is the key – as more and more folks at Barofsky’s level get dis-illusioned, what will they do?
      They COULD help turn a turning point into a tipping point as Stein says – that is why i think it is not a good idea to totally dismiss them as “inauthentic” should one be tempted to do so – methinks they are actually conflicted and could help the cause with a little TLC – but i know that is an unpopular view here …

      So, I suggest that, indeed, if we remember nothing else – remember that, in the end, all politics is personal – methinks this interview displayed this perfectly …..

      1. patricia

        “… methinks they are actually conflicted and could help the cause with a little TLC – but i know that is an unpopular view here…”

        What does your idea of TLC look like? How do we coax people?

    3. ZygmuntFraud

      This week, I watched the movie “Amazing Grace” made around 2006. It’s all about the movement to abolish slavery in the United Kingdom (or Great Britain, whatever) in the early 1800s.
      Because I like dates, I would have preferred more dates or text on screen to identify the King, Prime Minister, parties, etc.
      But, the good thing is that a lot of data like this is in the Credits part: actor/character at the end, and a kind of post-scriptum of the movie in text.
      The abolitionists won their vote in about 1807.
      If one supposes the movie as fair/balanced on history (which I can’t judge because I don’t feel competent enough), it was a very very long slog by the British abolitionists, marked by periods bordering on despair in the cause. And yet, in the end, the slave-trade abolitionists triumphed on changing the Law of the UK on the abolition of slavery …

      I think there are perils in “revolution”; I tend to view evolution of ideas/mentalities as a safer course.
      However, “data points” are in rather short supply, in my opinion.

  2. Ken Ward

    It never ceases to surprise me that Paul Krugman will not address the issues that Barofsky (or Sheila Bair) discusses so cogently.

    1. Gizzard

      Thats because Krugman chooses to not understand them. Krugman admits he knows very little about banking….. yet when people who DO know a thing or two about banking make critiques of some of his proclamations Krugman gets defensive. Krugman willfully ignores banking because its good for his pocketbook. If Paul were to take on banking the way he takes on “confidence fairies” things could get very interesting indeed.

      1. sierra7

        And, if Krugman got (gets) too atagonistic towards the establishment banking system he would be ostracized from the NYT…….

  3. Geojos

    Egad, what planet is this guy from,- articulate, clear thinker,insightful, honest and great intregity. Of course, he would not remain in government for these qualities are not wanted. You know there are so many ways the political and the economic system brings out the worst in humans. Can you say, ‘banality of evil’

  4. John

    I have heard several people say recently that the Wall Street banks have served their desired function of transferring the real wealth of the country to the elites and now they will be made into utilitarian banks again.

  5. jacksmith

    “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death!” – Patrick Henry

    What a brilliant ruling by the United States Supreme Court on the affordable health care act (Obamacare). Stunningly brilliant in my humble opinion. I could not have ask for a better ruling on a potentially catastrophic healthcare act than We The People Of The United States received from our Supreme Court.

    If the court had upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate under the commerce clause it would have meant the catastrophic loss of the most precious thing we own. Our individual liberty. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Supreme Court.

    There is no mandate to buy private for-profit health insurance. There is only a nominal tax on income eligible individuals who don’t have health insurance. This is a HUGE! difference. And I suspect that tax may be subject to constitutional challenge as it ripens.

    This is a critically important distinction. Because under the commerce clause individuals would have been compelled to support the most costly, dangerous, unethical, morally repugnant, and defective type of health insurance you can have. For-profit health insurance, and the for-profit proxies called private non-profits and co-ops.

    Equally impressive in the courts ruling was the majorities willingness to throw out the whole law if the court could not find a way to sever the individual mandate under the commerce clause from the rest of the act. Bravo! Supreme Court.

    Thanks to the Supreme Court we now have an opportunity to fix our healthcare crisis the right way. Without the obscene delusion that Washington can get away with forcing Americans to buy a costly, dangerous and highly defective private product (for-profit health insurance).

    During the passage of ACA/Obamacare some politicians said that the ACA was better than nothing. But the truth was that until the Supreme Court fixed it the ACA/Obamacare was worse than nothing at all. It would have meant the catastrophic loss of your precious liberty for the false promise and illusion of healthcare security under the deadly and costly for-profit healthcare system that dominates American healthcare.

    As everyone knows now. The fix for our healthcare crisis is a single payer system (Medicare for all) like the rest of the developed world has. Or a robust Public Option choice available to everyone on day one that can quickly lead to a single payer system.

    Talk of privatizing/profiteering from Medicare or social security is highly corrupt and Crazy! talk. And you should cut the political throats of any politicians giving lip service to such an asinine idea. Medicare should be expanded, not privatized or eliminated.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for-profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. The ACA/Obamacare will not fix that.

    The for-profit medical industrial complex has already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    To all of you who have fought so hard to do the kind and right thing for your fellow human beings at a time of our greatest needs I applaud you. Be proud of your-self.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.


    jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

    1. John

      Is this snark?

      Lost me here.

      I thought we got the worst of two worlds with their ruling.

      They upheld the mandate and didn’t uphold the Medicaid part.

  6. Will

    How can anyone think she can buy (or sell) insurance against a falling market? Aren’t such products founded on an absurdity, much as anti-gravity machines are founded on an absurdity? Shouldn’t such products be illegal?

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