FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Prosperity Comes to Bad Men

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

Surfeit begets insolence, when prosperity comes to a bad man.

Theognis, c. 545b.c.

I hope the President didn’t take it personally. I’m sure no offense was intended. Even though bank presidents have shown they can single handedly almost sink the economy, they can’t control the weather that prevented their making it to the meeting. Of course some people might wonder why they didn’t leave a day earlier. A lot of people who have a morning meeting scheduled with the President of the United States would be very anxious to make sure they were in town the night before so as not to miss the meeting. Such a meeting is heady stuff even for a bank president. My guess is that the men all had good reasons for not arriving in Washington D.C. the night before the meeting and it was not, as some might think, a lack of respect for the President of the United States. A number of factors explain their actions.

One is that it was the middle of the holiday season and a Sunday night two weeks before Christmas is a time when there are lots of holiday parties. It is important for bank presidents to be in attendance to show that even though 12 months ago they were being bailed out by, among others, the people at the parties as well as lots of other people their cheerful demeanors prove that they are not the least bit nervous about the economy or the state of their banks. Another reason they may have waited until Monday to travel to see the President (if they were not partying) was to give them additional time to work for the benefit of customers, employees and shareholders.

Lloyd Blankfein, president of Goldman Sachs (who missed the meeting), was very likely spending the evening doing rough calculations as to how to divide up $16 billion in bonuses among his thousands of employees. That is a complicated calculation. He may also have been working on the speech he would give to his employees to explain why some of them would get bonuses in stock instead of cash.

Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit missed the meeting because Citigroup had a $17 billion stock offering on the same day as the meeting with the President took place. Mr. Pandit spent the day convincing investors they should buy some of the stock that was being offered. Thanks to those efforts Citigroup received $425 million in fees from the offering. In Mr. Pandit’s place Citigroup’s chairman, Richard Parsons was to attend, but having better things to do on Sunday night than spend the night in the capitol he waited until Monday morning to travel and because of weather had to miss the meeting. He may have spent some time Sunday night working on helping those struggling to pay their mortgages who were hoping to qualify under the “Making Home Affordable Program.” In November 2008 Citigroup said its intention was to reach out to 500,000 borrowers who needed help to avoid foreclosure. It said its program might result in $20 billion of mortgage refinancings. As of November 2009 it had fallen a bit shy of its goal. Of all mortgagees who were eligible for modification it had only entered into trial modifications with 100,126 homeowners instead of 500,000 homeowners and had only made permanent modifications with 271 borrowers out of the 231,000 who were estimated to be eligible.

John Mack of Morgan Stanley was probably also spending Sunday night trying to figure out how to help those threatened with foreclosure who were in distress. Morgan Stanley’s subsidiary, Saxon Mortgage Services, Inc. had an estimated 80,000 eligible loans and had 35,565 trial modifications going on but as of the end of November had only made 42 of the loan modifications permanent. The rest were still awaiting approval. Of course he might have been toasting the fact that although those numbers are not impressive, when its permanent loans modifications are added to its trial modifications it turns out that 44% of its loans have been modified or are in the trial stage and that, percentage wise, places it at the top of all the Servicers in the program.

The “Making Home Affordable Program” has been in place for slightly over a year. The Treasury Department estimates there are 3,299,780 people eligible to participate in the program. As of the end of November only 31,382 have received permanent modifications. The three presidents who missed the meeting are probably keenly ware of the failure of their institutions to do more for those in trouble. They may even feel a bit of guilt about it. Not enough, however, to have made sure they’d get to the meeting with the President on time. And not enough to cause them to forego their large bonuses.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail