Monday, March 23, 2009
- Named chairman of the SEC in 2005 -- by President George W. Bush!
- Longtime supporter of securities deregulation who actually believed that markets are better off regulating themselves voluntarily!
- Described by Forbes magazine as having "the air of a well-scrubbed, mischievous schoolboy" -- and "the retro good looks of a square-jawed astronaut"!
- In 1980, appeared as a contestant on the NBC game show Password Plus -- winning more than $5,000!
- 17-year Republican member of Congress -- representing sunny Orange County, California!
- Also served on the White House staff of Ronald Reagan, whose voodoo economics set the stage for the current global financial meltdown!
- Yet another of the best and brightest who got a Harvard MBA before going on to destroy the economy!
- According to one former SEC employee, the business community felt that the agency "was too tough on corporate America and Wall Street" -- and "Cox was brought in to chill it out"!
- Shifted SEC enforcement efforts from major investigations of big Wall Street banks to smaller-time investigations -- essentially looking the other way while Wall Street looted the economy!
- Watered down the SEC's risk-assessment program -- designed to prevent financial crises!
- Under Cox, SEC fines fell from $1.5 billion in 2005 to just $500 million in 2008!
- Also under Cox, the SEC failed to stop Bernie Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme -- despite having been warned that Madoff was up to no good for years!
- Did nothing while banks' subprime-backed securities holdings grew and capital ratios shrank, leading to the demise of Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers -- three of the five major investment banks on Wall Street!
- Finally got a grip on reality in September 2008, saying, "Voluntary regulation does not work"!
Posted by Joe Six-Pack at 11:48 PM
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
- Founder and CEO of Countrywide Finance -- aggressive sub-prime mortgage lender, and the first mortgage lender to top $1 trillion in loans!
- Also co-founded IndyMac bank, another sub-prime mortgage origination factory!
- Wrote risky loans in order to sell them to Wall Street bankers -- who then packaged them into the "toxic assets" that are rotting corporate balance sheets around the globe!
- Son of a . . . butcher!
- Gave special loan terms to friends who really needed the financial break -- including Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), former Clinton White House staffer Paul Begala, former Clinton Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Fannie Mae CEOs James Johnson and Franklin Raines, and diplomat and investment banker Richard Holbrooke!
- Sold off hundreds of millions of dollars in Countrywide stock -- even while assuring buyers of the stock that they'd experience sweetness and light and skyrocketing investment returns!
- Took home $470 million in compensation between 2001 and 2006!
- Referred to borrowers who, under financial duress, contacted Countrywide to request revisions to their loan terms as "disgusting"!
- Proud owner of a George Hamilton tan!
- In January 2008, avoided Countrywide bankruptcy by selling the company to Bank of America -- for $4 billion!
- A month later, BofA (which to date has received $45 billion in bailout money) announced it would settle charges of predatory lending against Countrywide -- at a cost of nearly $9 billion!
- Soon to face SEC fraud charges!
- Believes Countrywide made a "positive impact" on society!
Posted by Joe Six-Pack at 9:15 PM
Thursday, March 5, 2009
- Goes by "Hank"!
- Eagle Scout!
- Worked for John Ehrlichman -- Republican and felon -- during the Watergate break-in and cover-up!
- CEO of Goldman Sachs during the inflation of the sub-prime mortgage bubble!
- Received total compensation from Goldman of more than half a BILLION dollars!
- As CEO, convinced the SEC to release Goldman from the net capital rule -- exposing the bank to more risk than ever before!
- Also convinced the SEC to lessen regulatory oversight of risk-taking by investment banks!
- Named U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in 2006 -- by fellow Harvard Business School alum George W. Bush!
- As Secretary of the Treasury, charged with overseeing the same banking industry which had made him as rich as Midas!
- In March 2007, said, "An open, competitive, and liberalized financial market can effectively allocate scarce resources in a manner that promotes stability and prosperity far better than governmental intervention"!
- In August 2007, claimed the sub-prime mortgage crisis was "contained"!
- After coming to the aid of Bear Stearns earlier in 2008, in September allowed Lehman Brothers to fail -- sending the global economy into a death spiral!
- On September 15, 2008, called the U.S. banking system "safe and sound"!
- Later that month, asked Congress to give him $700 billion to bail out the banking industry and thaw frozen credit markets!
- Initially tried to get Congress to give him absolute, unchecked power to do what he deemed necessary to save the financial system!
- Told Congress and the public that the bailout money would go towards purchasing "toxic assets" -- but gave the money to his banker buddies instead!
- Gave bailout money to banks with no requirement to use the money to make loans -- and no oversight of how the banks actually use the money!
- Bailout recipients used taxpayer money to pay bankers billions of dollars in "performance related" bonuses!
- Word on the Street is that billions of dollars in AIG bailout money have gone to pay off bets by Goldman that the sub-prime market would collapse!
- Never required that Goldman, or any other bank, reveal the extent of sub-prime mortgage-related investments -- resulting in continuing distrust of banks, and an ongoing credit crunch!
- Under Paulson's watch, two of the four major investment banks disappeared; only Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs -- Paulson's former employer -- remain!
- Claimed that the last thing he wanted to do with the bailout was cause a moral hazard among his banker buddies!
- Diagnosis: utterly deluded, or in possession of deep reserves of chutzpah!
Posted by Joe Six-Pack at 12:50 AM
Monday, March 2, 2009
- CEO of the biggest bank in the U.S. -- Bank of America!
- To date, BofA has accepted $45 billion in federal bailout money!
- Started his career in banking in 1969, as -- get this -- a credit analyst!
- In 2008, in the middle of the utter collapse of the global housing market, made the brilliant decision to acquire sub-prime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial -- for $4 billion!
- That same year, spent $50 billion to acquire Merrill Lynch -- despite that bank's massive sub-prime exposure!
- Failed to disclose Merrill's 2008 financial situation to BofA shareholders -- despite having full knowledge of how dire it was!
- Signed off on $3.6 billion in bonuses to Merrill bankers -- despite Merrill's loss of $27 billion in 2008!
- BofA posted a loss of $2.4 billion in 2008 -- but Lewis still received compensation of $9 million!
- Thanks to Lewis' "leadership", BofA may well end up having to be nationalized -- at further great expense to taxpayers -- to prevent the total collapse of the financial system!
- Stunning as it may seem, won American Banker's 2008 Banker of the Year Award!
- One former BofA executive called Lewis "the most dispassionate man I've ever met," adding, "He has ice water in his veins"!
- Last week, in an historic speech before the entire Congress, U.S. President Obama declared that the days of bankers flying on expensive private jets "were over"!
- This week, Lewis flew to New York to meet with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo -- on an expensive private jet!
- Cost to fuel and staff the private jet, per hour: $5,000!
- Cost for a commercial flight from BofA headquarters to New York: $440!
- At the meeting, Lewis refused Cuomo's request for information about the Merrill bonuses he signed off on -- in essence saying, "Up yours, taxpayers!"
Posted by Joe Six-Pack at 4:51 PM