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How To Fall Up While The Nation Falls Down
June 5, 2014 5:59 PM   Subscribe

Tim Geithner says he doesn't know how he went from a "mediocre student" to leading the response to the "largest destruction of GDP in world history." His resume highlights were from addressing economic crises in developing countries in ways that correlated strongly to increasing poverty and reducing growth. His main response to critics of his "bailout the top" approach is that disaster was the only alternative.
posted by blankdawn (39 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw him speak at a conference last year: witty, intelligent, self-effacing, entirely personable. I had no opinion of him beforehand other than as an historical figure. I left thinking we were lucky to have had him in the chair.
posted by jwest at 6:12 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


What does it mean that the people in power portray themselves to be like Chauncey Gardiner?
posted by codswallop at 6:17 PM on June 5 [15 favorites]


There was a point, when the initial shock was stabilized, that Obama and Geithner had the major players of the financial industry in the White House and could have wrung real changes out of them.

They instead continued to offer reassuring hugs.

The initial bailout wasn't really the problem. The lack of change and accountability afterward was entirely inexcusable.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 6:18 PM on June 5 [66 favorites]


This is a really really sweet takedown.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:20 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


The banality of evil?
posted by Divest_Abstraction at 6:20 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


From the article: "Geithner is at heart a grifter, a petty con artist with the right manners and breeding to lie at the top echelons of American finance..."

Don't hold back, tell us what you really think.
posted by The River Ivel at 6:31 PM on June 5


Everybody but the fuckups lost.
posted by rhizome at 6:39 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Tim Geithner's book caused a little flare-up on the feeds. Some selected links:
Politico: Why Geithner drives liberals nuts
“We were bailing out the financial system in order to do something to right the financial system and then reform the financial system,” said Jesse Eisinger, a prominent journalist at ProPublica who shared a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on practices that led to the financial crisis. “Instead, we essentially got the status quo and banks that are in some ways larger and more powerful.”

That opinion — which Geithner and his defenders sharply reject — is shared by many in the progressive movement. It’s often cited as among the reasons the Democratic base is disillusioned with President Barack Obama, who picked Geithner and supported his choices, and may stay home during the fall’s midterm elections, possibly handing the U.S. Senate to Republicans.
Eisinger, at ProPublica, writes that The Buck Stops With Obama on Tepid Financial Reform
These were Mr. Geithner's failures, but they were more deeply Mr. Obama's. The flaws we thought we were seeing during Mr. Geithner's tenure turn out to have replicated themselves in other Obama departments. And they have persisted after Mr. Geithner left. Why, it's almost as if the Treasury secretary wasn't the one making decisions and setting the tone after all.
and his column is covered in A Bailout Botched By Centrists.
A couple of bits from Stress Test, Geithner's book:
Macho Bullshit and Bailouts and Tim Geithner Lays into FDR for Not Working with Hoover.
With so many diagnoses and prescriptions for the Great Recession and many unanswered questions (including what exactly happened with Credit Suisse), what next?
If Stress Test is an indictment, a litany of failure, with admission of mistakes (more), chronicles Geithner's ultimate failure, and only just worth the read ...

How Do We Prevent The Next Tim Geithner?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:40 PM on June 5 [25 favorites]


i realized who tim geithner was when he was appointed treassec. he suddenly had to resolve a previous personal IRS matter. turned out, he had had to resolve the same matter for past years, and had failed to disclose that he had been doing the same thing ever since, until he was appointed and had to finally come clean.
posted by bruce at 6:42 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Everybody but the fuckups lost.

I have it on good authority that the bums will always lose.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:56 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


Sure. The Meek Will Inherit Nothing.

I see that as a starting point, though.
posted by rhizome at 7:02 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The Earth inherits the meek
posted by Renoroc at 7:07 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


What does it mean that the people in power portray themselves to be like Chauncey Gardiner?

Well, cadswallop, you have succinctly pointed to the roots of the problem.
posted by CincyBlues at 7:11 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


The bit where he tried to claim credit on The Daily Show for supporting mortgage principal modification, something that would've REALLY helped struggling homeowners at the direct expense of culpable banks, while denying such support in the book, is particularly odious.

Obama's biggest failures have been staffing his financial team exclusively with the Geithners and Summers of the world and allowing them carte blanche to coddle the same Wall Street money men again and again and again.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:18 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


That's a great piece. Thanks for posting.
posted by wittgenstein at 7:19 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


What about Dodd-Frank and the CFPB. Those were significant changes.
posted by humanfont at 7:21 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I don't usually enjoy Vice articles, but that was a fantastic, no-nonsense review. Thanks for posting.
posted by smoke at 7:34 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


In the past year, Vice has basically become one of the better journalistic operations in the United States. That's kind of amazing to me. This is a good article, much better than its HuffPo counterpart.
posted by koeselitz at 7:40 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Can we have a follow-up on Bernanke?

Conspiracy types (how I love them!) like to point out the links between his father Peter Geithner and Ann Dunham.

How Do We Prevent The Next Tim Geithner?

Well, clearly voting Democrat won't do it.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:13 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Well, clearly voting Democrat won't do it.

And voting Republican won't do it, and voting third party won't do it, so basically, we're fucked.

It's infuriating that the choices boil down to really evil, evil, and a pointless gesture.
posted by Ickster at 8:17 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


Utterly depressing, but unsurprising. Considering it looks like Hillary Clinton is going to be basically handed the Democratic nomination, thus guaranteeing her the Presidency, nothing is going to change in the near future either. It was her husband who was instrumental in introducing these elements to the Democratic party. The alternative would be a Republican who , at best, would be just as corrupt, and, at worst, would be a Tea Party nihilist who would try to burn everything down.

What would help? Making sure the Senate is filled with Elizabeth Warrens and Sherrod Browns, and making sure the House is filled with Democrats of the non corrupt variety. Voting in primaries would also be useful. There are Democrats (and potentially Republicans) out there who are against this. Taking Bernie Sanders seriously when he challenges Hillary in the primaries would also be good. So would knowing about the politicians. Nobody who is concerned about this stuff should be enamored with Cory Booker as a progressive hero....
posted by eagles123 at 8:41 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Nobody who is concerned about this stuff should be enamored with Cory Booker as a progressive hero....

I liked Booker a lot as a mayor, but I was worried about where he'd go as a Senator. Then I saw his name on a list of Democrats pushing for sanctions on Iran that would scuttle any chance for success with the current negotiations. I hate the fact that my disappointment has become so predictable. I'm not even sure disappointment is the right word for it anymore.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:12 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


In the past year, Vice has basically become one of the better journalistic operations in the
United States.


Paid for with Murdoch money.
posted by empath at 12:49 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Torches
Pitchforks
2016

posted by fullerine at 2:16 AM on June 6 [23 favorites]


This is a good article, much better than its HuffPo counterpart.

Such a very low bar...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:54 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Well, clearly voting Democrat won't do it.

Yes, it will. Select and campaign for candidates for local office - municipal elections. These are the king-makers and deal-breakers who decide who gets to run for statewide office. Make sure they reflect your values as a liberal-progressive, and understand you won't be able to find someone who has all the check-boxes ticked. Settle for someone who can be trusted to move things in the right direction for the most part.

Campaign for the state congressional candidate backed by your team, especially during the primaries and conventions. These are the king-makers and deal-breakers who decide what your national congressional district looks like, and who will be appointed to a position of influence by the governor.

Build your team, make your bench so deep with qulified and experienced candidates, you can't help but dominate local and national politics. It requires a lot more work than just voting once every two years. Start now.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:38 AM on June 6 [19 favorites]


disaster was the only alternative.

Disaster for whom?
posted by Legomancer at 6:34 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Yes, it will.

Put aside whether you agree or disagree with their politics, note that the Tea Party tried to do this and it doesn't seem to be working for them. Why should it for earnest Democrats? Hit the congressional level, hell, hit the gubernatorial level, and power comes from the money interests. Good luck changing that fact of life.

Disaster for whom?

The quick and undead. In disaster there is profit.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:43 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Put aside whether you agree or disagree with their politics, note that the Tea Party tried to do this and it doesn't seem to be working for them.

...you know, apart from their dominance of the House and apart from their total control of many state governments.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:00 AM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Put aside whether you agree or disagree with their politics, note that the Tea Party tried to do this and it doesn't seem to be working for them

I disagree. If there's a consistent message that comes out of every single Mefi politics thread, it's that American politics has been dragged way, way too far to the right on basically every single social, economic, and fiscal issue in the past 30 years, except for gay marriage. Conservatives (and Tea Parties are just their latest high-profile avatar) accomplished this through the means Slap*Happy described. You agree that's what they've done, but you can't see how they've succeeded?
posted by hhc5 at 7:01 AM on June 6


I saw him speak at a conference last year: witty, intelligent, self-effacing, entirely personable.

He's so reasonable sounding that you never suspect his biases and blind spots until e.g. Matt Taibbi comes along to point them out for you.
posted by Flexagon at 8:25 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


Paid for with Murdoch money.

5% stake sold to Murdoch as part of a deal to use Fox's distro networks in Asia. 25% of VICE is owned by other minority shareholders, the rest is still the VICE founders.
posted by DGStieber at 9:27 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Geithner presents himself as having a standoffish relationship with Wall Street bigwigs. “I rarely socialized with Wall Street executives,” he writes. “As I had warned the board, Carole and I did the minimal amount of Manhattan socializing I thought necessary to do my job properly, including a few awkward birthday celebrations for our modern-day tycoons at various museums in Manhattan.”
"Guys, I barely hung out with them at all, just a couple of black-tie, private museum events a year. And I mean, doesn't everybody go to those anyways?"
posted by Panjandrum at 9:38 AM on June 6 [5 favorites]


Yeah that "paid for by Murdoch money" is classic conservative exaggeration framing but it strikes me how much lefties use it too. It never seems to work the same in impressing the nonconverted, somehow conservatism became the skeptical perspective
posted by aydeejones at 10:01 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


If there's a consistent message that comes out of every single Mefi politics thread, it's that American politics has been dragged way, way too far to the right on basically every single social, economic, and fiscal issue in the past 30 years, except for gay marriage.

I look at Internet discussions of the other team's base and radical fringes sometimes and they say everything's been dragged way too far to the left what with the Cultural Marxism and all.

I'm thinking left and right are a distraction these days, to some degree intentionally - certainly with intent by the media circus and I tend to think by the pols as well. I think more relevant is authoritarian v. anti or perhaps bullshit v. respect for truth. (Even a liar respects the truth, but not a bull shitter)
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:21 AM on June 6


I think the bigger challenge is that the senior executive service and ranks of the career civil and intelligence services have become too independent in their exercise of authority. Eric Holder issues a memo on how state medical marijuanna laws should impact DEA cases and the head of them DEA ignores it. Obama proposes minor reforms to our domestic spy programs and the staff starts lobbying against any change. The recently departed head of the VA had been asking for authority to fire staff for performance issues; but instead he is fired.
posted by humanfont at 10:37 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


When they trot out the "disaster was the alternative" argument, always ask, "Disaster for whom?"

It was a disaster for everyone except the few at the top who got bailed out. We could have bailed out most people and only those perps at the top would have had a disaster.

Build your team

Exactly. That's what the opposition did for 50 years and now they are in high cotton. I get really tired of hearing how Democrats can't make any difference. Well, no, they can't if you simply turn the Democratic Party over to middle managers. Always be usurping the toadies out. Build your team from the ground up. Be in it for the long haul.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:17 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Good responses all around. I always struggle with the "what now" questions when confronting this kind of massive corruption caked in propaganda. I would say let's consider converting as much of the public as possible and electoral politics will follow in time, even just because they get afraid of us.

Think of how much progressive legislation was signed by Nixon, from civil rights to the environment to even extensions of welfare programs. Think Nixon did that out of the goodness of his heart? It was common belief among the elites back then that people were waking up and demanding much more radical reforms.

On the other hand if tons of good people focus mostly on "our guy/woman" getting elected then that leads to a race to the bottom in terms of what we are really being offered (besides gay marriage, which as a previous commenter mentioned has become the one bone the Democrats will through "social justice" people in a sad inversion of the 2004 Rove Strategy).
posted by blankdawn at 12:56 PM on June 7


NYRB, Paul Krugman: Does He Pass The Test?
Or to use one of the medical metaphors Geithner likes, we can think of the economy as a patient who was rushed to the emergency room with a life-threatening condition. Thanks to the urgent efforts of the doctors present, the patient’s life was saved. But while the doctors kept him alive, they failed to cure his underlying illness, so he emerged from the procedure partly crippled, and never fully recovered.

How should we think about the economic policy of these past seven or so years? Geithner, while acknowledging the disappointments, would have us view it mainly as a success story, because things could have been much worse. And the middle third of his book, a blow-by-blow account of the acute phase of the financial crisis, carries the implicit and sometimes explicit message that things would indeed have been much worse but for the heroic actions of a handful of high officials, himself included.

But this still leaves open the question of whether things could and should have been considerably better, whether preventing a complete economic meltdown was all that could have been accomplished. Here Geithner implicitly says no—or at least that there was nothing more that he himself could have done.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:19 AM on June 18


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