Sunday, January 10, 2010


This jibes with what I'm hearing. Most readers here who have no connection to the financial industry would be shocked if they knew how much of a bonus many mid to upper level employees will get for 2009: high six figures to mid seven figures, even at firms that until recently were on the public dole.

I've been getting some comments and emails about my dissatisfaction with Obama. Of course it's not just the Nigerian bomber debacle. But that's an example of how his vaunted composure, an asset during the campaign, has translated into deference and apathy as president. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the issue of financial reform. I think he has been short-sighted and profoundly irresponsible in his disregard for the long-term psychological consequences of the financial crisis and bailouts, and this is the basis of my disappointment in him. These latest reports about Wall Street bonuses will exacerbate those consequences, as does the inexplicable continued employment of Geithner, Summers and Bernanke. You can argue that Obama inherited a corrupt system, that the banks own Washington. But it's Obama who has decided to retain these men, in the case of Bernanke for another four years. That's four more years of the public constantly seeing a symbol of incompetence, iniquity and secrecy. It's all against the backdrop of an institutionalized, deeply immoral ethos of "too big to fail," which has been ignored by Obama and would not be resolved by anything I've seen in the financial reforms currently being contemplated.

Political extremism on a national scale doesn't just happen. There's always a catalyzing event or period, some sort of trauma that can pass but fester for years afterward. To the extent this period has created lasting psychological scars, Obama will be at least partly responsible if the country eventually takes a radical political turn -- either left or right.


Anonymous am4 said...

That Wall Street continues to get away with their crimes is infuriating. And Obama and other Democrats--to say nothing of the Republicans--are complicit in these crimes. I supported him last year, in part because of Palin, but now I would take some pleasure in seeing his presidency destroyed.

1/10/2010 8:33 AM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...


What is the definition of "insanity"? Essentially, from a political view it is voting the same two party system and expecting different results. This has been the ongoing theme in America for 100 years now. Talk about a "barbarous relic"!

I am in San Diego right now headed for the Bahamas for an annual speaking engagement. I just finished breakfast and happened to catch a glimpse of Chritine Romer on CNN, Obama's Economic Advisor. It almost made me chuck my Cheerios. Yet another academia Berkleyite who prattles on about unemployment and how it will rebound in the Spring. From what I heard she said nothing ... nothing.

Here is what I would have asked her. Why is it, me, a a member of the NFIB, National Foundation of Independent Business was not invited to the Obama Job Summit yet Fortune 500 CEOs and union bosses were? I spent over 25 years in Public Works sector and I never saw a single union, much less a union employee, create a single job. The sector that has historically created the most jobs in America is SMALL BUSINESS, yet we were not invited to an Obama Job Summit. I am a small business owner in Hawaii. I employ people. I ran Delta Technology in San Francisco and we partnered with Cisco Systems to test out the very first Voice over Internet Protocal at Menlo College in 2000. I was paying high school educated IBEW union electricians over $100k per year on my projects. It was NOT the other way around! I employed people then. I have employed people in various small businesses for over 35 years. GE, Microsoft and Apple were once small businesses, starting in garages.

Now ... I go yet again to the "truth teller" the US Treasury Daily Statement and I look up SBA-Small Business Adminitration and that line item over the past three months, at the end of the first quarter of FY 2010 has total outlays less than $6BIL USD, while the single line item "GSE Obligations/HFA Initiative" in less than a week is over $30BIL USD. Then Defense, for that same period, is at $100BIL USD. The outlays for the Unemployment line item is running over $1BIL per day now. Then of course we have the BANK BAILOUTS, both direct(TARP) and indirect(US FED) in the trillions. The only line item less than the SBA $6BIL is Food Stamps!

On the back of all that we have the unprecedented issuance of US DEBT at the following rates:

Q1/FY 2010

Marketable US DEBT...$2.1TRIL
Bills, Notes, bonds

Non-Marketable US DEBT...$11TRIL

What exactly is $6BIL compared to over $13TRIL of total US DEBT?

I am disheartened ... I would have preferred to see instead of a "housing" SUBPRIME ... a "business" SUBPRIME! That's where the SBA bank takes your pulse then gives you a loan to start a business, except it was the opposite. While house flippers got million dollar loans by sneezing over at the SBA you had to prove you didn't need a loan to get a loan! Oh, and you had to put up your home as collateral!

You would think that Obama and Obama's top Economic Advisor, Professor Christine Romer, PhD, who has never even started a single business, would have thought to invite US small business to a job creation summit and told the unions to stay home!

"CHANGE" YOU CAN BELIEVE IN ... At thsi point I would be satisfied with: "COMMON SENSE" YOU CAN BELEIEVE IN!

1/10/2010 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it was Frank Rich's column today that reminded us of Andy Grove's theory of corporations reaching "strategic inflection points", from which they either reinvent themselves, and grow, or eventually perish.

What Team Obama is missing is that the country is nearing a strategic inflection point. By enabling the status quo, even encouraging it, they now have become part of the nation's failing systems, including financial system elites whom actually believe they are doing "God's work", while looting the country financially and emotionally.

I think the time for shovels and pitchforks is drawing closer, particularly after the upcoming announcements of bonuses. If the streets fill with angry Americans who have arisen from their Lazy Boys, we will have hit the inflection point, with unknown repercussions, except that as a nation we will never be the same.

It is clear Obama does not understand how close the nation is that point of ignition.

1/10/2010 12:41 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

I am by no means a union person. But hell...I even cheered a bit at the Teamsters getting the upperhand on Goldman Sachs for a change.

1/10/2010 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Liebchen said...

Reading "The Family" lately, but Jeff Sharlett. It explains a lot about the reasons for the status quo's resilience.

1/10/2010 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been (kinda sorta) defending Obama (specifically, defending a **vote for** Obama in '08) in this comment section, but I can't disagree with CR's take. I fear that Obama has already completely blown his term by relying on Summers and Geithner and everything they represent.

There's only one mystery here, and it's a historical footnote kind of thing: Whatever one might think about Obama's competence in economics or foreign policy, he seemed to be an extremely shrewd politician -- tactically skillful, knowledgable about the fears and wants of large swathes of the population. Yet even aside from the practical disasters of Summers/Geithner "management", what's startling is just how **politically** stupid it is. These people have transformed the (nominal) Party of the Workingman into the Financier Party. And to any sensible politician, the Financier Party **should** be the ideal nemesis. FDR did very well by excoriating "economic royalists". Obama seems to think he's got something to gain by coddling thieves.
-- sglover

1/10/2010 11:15 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Goldhorder, nice link. It serves as a reminder that we are engaged in a class struggle-- it's ALWAYS a class struggle, and only in tough times does it come into sharp relief.

In our political system, the people must lead the leaders. As with FDR, only after the massive burgeoning underclass threatened to bring about a socialist revolution was the New Deal offered as a soft substitute, an appeasement.

We the citizens have only to decide to which class we belong. Physicians have more in common with the truckers than the bankers and when the revolution comes, the Goldman pencil pushers will be the first to the guillotine (figuratively).

As the YRCW story from Counterpunch shows, the workers' only chance is to have solid representation, and if it doesn't come from Washington, then it will come from labor unions.

If Obama is in fact a shrewd politician, he will need to read the tea leaves before this economic machine melts down.

1/11/2010 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During the election, my basic summary of Obama was that he was reasonable, more liberal than the others, but not likely to be able to get done what needed to be done. I was wrong about him being more liberal, but sadly, not wrong at all about his ability to stand up and fight to get good legislation made.

From what I've read, here and other places, I have to agree with you that keeping this economic team on is absolutely a mistake. Sure, it might make big business happy and ensure a stable source of taxpayer income, thereby fueling some sort of corrupt recovery, but to everyone who isn't personally benefiting from obscene bonuses, it's theft, pure and simple. The blatant unfairness of it all, just can't be grasped... I feel like we've been mugged and that those who were there to protect us were in on the crime.
If Democrats can't stick up for the little guy, and you know the republicans sure as hell aren't going to, where can you turn?

1/11/2010 4:02 AM  
Anonymous Pete said...

It gets so tiring reading the whining from those who say the Republicans don't stick up for the little guy. Those who repeat that drivel should not be taken seriously.

I am a Republican who runs a small business (8 employees), and I take care of my employees. I know many other small businesspeople who are Republicans who take care of their people.

Anonymous, you are just plain wrong with your assessment of Republicans.

1/11/2010 7:28 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

If at first you don't succeed...ummm...just change the accounting methodology and claim success! Yes...If only the government had "regulated" enron. Hell...where to you liberal dummies think enron got it from?!!

1/12/2010 10:28 PM  
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1/13/2010 5:00 PM  
Anonymous Inthon said...

IMHO, the problem is traced to people shielding their egos from admitting this is not a D/R problem.

If we can get over who we voted for and just start admitting that

All these D/R games about house seats, power struggles, etc. all distract from the issues that really matter, where both parties are the same(economics, drug war, GWOT, privacy/Patriot Act, national debt).

Just my $0.02

1/13/2010 7:34 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

It is simply the elitest D/R establishment against the rest of the country. When they tell us over and over again that "WE ARE AT WAR", I always think to myself...yes we are at war. It is Washington DC, Wall Street, and the Military industrial complex against the rest of the world...including all Americans who do not profit from the employement of the above 3 groups.

1/14/2010 11:07 PM  
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