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.
The last mystery of the financial crisis. It's long been suspected that ratings agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's helped trigger the meltdown. A new trove of embarrassing documents shows how they did it. by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone.
On Saturday the EU mandated that all bank deposits in Cyprus pay a 6.75% "stability levy" on the first €100,000 and 9.9% on the excess to help pay for €6 billion of the €10 billion bank bailout. This is despite opposition from the Cyprus finance minister, who stated earlier this month that "there really couldn't be a more stupid idea" and more recently that "I wish I was not the minister to do this". The scale of the bailout is nearly 50% of Cyprus' entire GPD, and many officials are concerned that the money will go to Russian gangsters and oligarchs. The Saturday announcement lead to a run on the ATMs, which caused banks to restrict electronic transfers and set a €400 withdrawal limit. Most ATMs were out of money by the end of the day and a frustrated man threatened one bank with a bulldozer. The plan was scheduled to be voted on by parliament on Sunday, but it has been delayed to Monday and might not be passed by politicians who have heard complaints from their Cypriot constituents all weekend. The Cyprus President warned of total financial collapse and euro exit if it is not approved.
Secret and Lies of the Bailout. "The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme. And the worst may be yet to come." [Via]
The American people “should be enraged by the broken promises to Main Street and the unending protection of Wall Street” writes Neil Barofsky, former Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in his new book, Bailout, about his time in that office. His trenchant criticisms of Washington egos, moneyed interests, and political games has some calling him an "idealistic alien" and others vehemently defending him. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner comes off particularly poorly in Bailout, unsurprising in light of his well-known feud with Barofsky over the efficacy of the bailouts. (previously)
Wajahat Ali, a solo practitioner from California, takes on Wells Fargo in an attempt to get his clients' home loan modified. Lots of ball dropping and passing of the buck ensues. He describes the Kafka-esque nature of the experience.
Six Simple Ways to Fix Wall Street. "Elements of our Six Simple Steps are in the pending legislation. If they're part of what's adopted, we may get true and lasting reform. If they're not, it won't be long before Wall Street is back to business -- and bailouts -- as usual."
Matt Taibbifilter: Among other things, the GAO report noted that the entire OTS had only one insurance specialist on staff — and this despite the fact that it was the primary regulator for the world's largest insurer! This week's MeFi stories have generally failed to explain the reasoning that caused the recession, even though Jon Stewart was basically on the mark. Now, Rolling Stone's only reporter lays it all out The Big Takeover, a typical combination of zealous snark and the overlooked, damning facts needed to clear up a ridiculously complicated story.
The Congressional Oversight Panel, headed by Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, notes in its third monthly report that for every $100 Treasury spent on its ten largest TARP deals, it received back only $66 worth of assets -- significantly less than for roughly comparable private parties.