‘Nobody Knows Anything’

February 11, 2009

“When it comes to backs, nobody knows anything.”
Peter Paul ‘Paulie Walnuts’ Gualtieri, The Sopranos

One of the most-frightful aspects of this extremely-current financial meltdown is its seemingly incoherent complexities, made worse by dumbfounded, clueless financial people: “I don’t, in all candor, understand a lot of it,” conceded Paul Kasriel, chief economist at Northern Trust, a major Chicago-area bank, referring to the Wall Street blow-out/bailout.

confused Mr. Kasriel is not just another Northern Trust rank-and-file financial specialist, but the bank’s top guy.
And he don’t know shit — Northern Trust snagged $1.5 billion last October in TARP Part One, and apparently  still didn’t know after TARP Part Two was unveiled yesterday by the US top economic guy, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose grinding performance was of such gloominess the Dow nose-dived 250 points during his odd, awkward financial pitch (dropping 400 points on the day).

(Illustration found here).

Doug Thompson at capitolhillblue this morning:

  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner went before the American public Tuesday to offer up a new bailout plan for banks.
    By the time his miserable presentation ended, America saw a need for a bailout plan for the Geithner.
    President Barack Obama promised Geithner would deliver a detailed bailout plan that would correct earlier mistakes and move forward.
    Geithner’s “plan” wasn’t a plan at all, just a vague reference to what he said would be a plan.

And Geithner’s whining:

  • To make matters worse, this guy is trying to convince us that he needs more time to get up to speed, saying we should understand that he has only been on the job since Jan. 20.
    Geithner has been a player in our financial system for years.
    You can find his fingerprints all over many of the problems that plague our economy.
    He should wear a button that shouts “conspirator!”

A damn-swell reverse, however, from last fall:

  • The 47-year-old president of the New York Federal Reserve has been working closely with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on the credit crisis. Wall Street seemed cheered by the news of his selection.
    The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 500 points Friday, rising sharply after reports that Geithner would be nominated.

Didn’t I tell you?
This Wall Street/financial meltdown is completely incomprehensible — to nobody, but everybody.
A major current concern with this new financial rescue is ‘lucidity‘ in the details:

  • “There’s still a lack of clarity,” Dan McMahon, director of equity trading at Raymond James Financial Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida, said of Geithner’s proposal. “These are smart people and they’re supposed to have it figured out.
    We’ve been waiting all week and then he said nothing.”

Clarity is a good take needed for the situation, and so is the word, transparency, which in turn makes us return to Tim Geithner and his immediate-if-not-sooner predecessor, Hank Paulson — Them two plus Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke slap-dashed together the “bank bailout” last September, if we remember that far back — with no such thing as oversight.
This from Paulson’s original proposal:

  • Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Although some chipping away of the secrecy clause did occur, the TARP’s IG noted in its report to the US Congress last week, “TARP agreements generally do not require recipients to report or to track internally the use of TARP funds …”
And to muddy material waters even more, Paulson announced in mid November TARP will no longer be used for its original intent of buying troubled mortgage-backed assets, but instead would be re-focused to the “non-bank financial sector,” including credit card and auto loan debt.
The mechanics of such a move is a complete puzzle, as in nobody knows, and apparently Geithner’s showcase event yesterday was just an extension to Paulson’s bullshit.

As all this was going on, more TARPola stories were being heard by high-greed apologists gathered today before the US House Financial Services Committee to try and explain away billions and billions and billions of taxpayer monies.

  • “It is abundantly clear that we are here amidst broad public anger at our industry,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief of Goldman Sachs.
    “Many people believe — and, in many cases, justifiably so — that Wall Street lost sight of its larger public obligations.”

And why all those huge Wall Street bonuses, Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the committee, asked the bigwigs, does more money mean better work habits?

  • Many of the chiefs said they had not used the government money to pay bonuses and many tried to dispel notions that they had been irresponsible in their spending.
    “We have never been wasteful,” said John G. Stumpf, the chief executive of Wells Fargo.
    Still, Mr. Frank asked, “If you weren’t getting a bonus, what would you not do? Would you take longer lunches or leave early on Wednesday?”
    He added, “Why do you need to be bribed to have your interests aligned with the company?”
    John J. Mack of Morgan Stanley replied: “We love what we do. If you gave us no bonus, we would still be here.”

Atop the salary food chain: All of them CEOs except one earned between $600,000 and $1.5 million in “salary” last year — See the listing at Think Progress.
Nobody knows anything about anything.
And Tony Soprano, trying to uncover who amongst his people is an FBI informant, ends up not really knowing — The source of the trouble confused “one black-haired fat fuck” for the other.
Tony Obama should watch his back.

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