Thursday, April 29, 2010

Give it back

I didn't see the Senate hearings where Goldman Sachs executives got grilled for sending the financial system into a ditch, but from what I've seen and heard about it, something was missing.

At one point, Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO, was asked how much of a bonus he got last year. $9 million was the answer.

And that was where one of the Senators should have told him to give it back. Indeed, all of the 2009 bonuses at G-S--which were "earned" directly or indirectly thanks to the willingness of the American people to clean up the mess the bankers made--should be given back.

Now I know that G-S did not get bailout money, at least not directly. And no part of it is owned by the government; whether the reverse is the case is an open question. But its bankers could return some of the largesse they received by contributing their bonuses to the Treasury. That's legal. Indeed, every year, the Treasury receives gifts from grateful citizens. The bankers could even earmark (yes!) their contributions to reduce the deficit, to which they contributed so mightily.

So, why didn't any of the Senators say, "Give it back!"


Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper said...

Follow the money is once again the answer to your rhetorical question. Recent reports show G-S big money going to senators from both parties, so they're watching their backs, protecting themselves from retribution by G-S criminals like Blankfein when this is all over.

Only if and when G-S is totally declawed would the Senators do what you suggest.(Don't hold your breath.) Another question might be why don't the senators give back G-S campaign contributions?

Chris Gagnon said...

To answer your question: Goldman got $12.9 billion in bailout money but gave $10b back almost immediately. All their credit default swaps were with AIG who ended up with close to $185b in taxpayer cash, but promptly had to pay the bulk of that out to Goldman. The rest went to Deustche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America among others.
The Fabulous Fab was an insolent prick under oath hiding behind the "sophistication" of the financial instruments involved. In other words, "Don't question me about things you yourself do not understand."
If I were a senator present during the questioning, I would have stepped down from the dais, walked over to the little insubordinate jerk, slapped him in the face and told him to just answer the f****** questions.
The only thing "sophisticated" about these tranches of bundled sub-prime mortgages was how the payouts were worked with Fitch, Standard and Poor, and Moody's in exchange for their AAA ratings of this crap.
Easiest two fixes: 1) Put derivatives up on the big board as there is no reason why they are not traded like commodity futures and 2) Severely limit the amount of leverage any bank is allowed to carry.
And let's not let Greenspan off the hook here. His last six years were a clinic on what not to do regarding monetary policy. If only he had regarded Ayn Rand as the B-list Hollywood scriptwriter that she was.
And again, as long as they're successfully siphoning our money, the free moarket works great! But the second they need to be saved from themselves, their embrace of "socialism" is both public and complete.
Blankfein give money back? It is to laugh!