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 Day 19

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The LIBOR Scandal

Will the Real Timothy Geithner Please Stand Up?

by D. SIDNEY POTTER

When it comes to bank scandals, who needs Monday morning quarterbacking when you have Timothy Geihtner to pick on? While at first blush, Mr. Geihtner seems to have come clean on the LIBOR scandal – which resulted in the recent resignation of Barclays CEO, Richard Diamond, this latest scandal could turn into what Mr. Geihtner knew and when. For some Democratic lawmakers, they want the Justice Department to determine why certain bankers and bank regulators (i.e., Timothy Geihtner), failed to “stop wrongdoing that they knew, or should have known about.”

Fortunately, according to Andrea Priest, spokeswomen for the New York Federal Reserve, who are in the process of releasing a trove of internal memorandum, has said that the documents “will show that the New York Fed took prompt action four years ago to highlight problems with Libor and press for reform.”

A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

Even amongst most liberals, there is a seething sense of contempt for US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He’s the perfect guy to hate, since in his 3 too-long years as Treasury Secretary he has given new meaning to the word duplicity.

Given the recent cover of Time magazine that depicted a grown woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, one would hate to phantom the Oedipus type complex that might be at play here. Certainly, a feeling of abandonment or a persistent desire to be loathed and despised at the same time might be the origin of the Secretary’s ever-present ambiguity and cleverness. A psychoanalyst might classify this psychosis as delusional ideation.

To a certain extent, if a scientist with too much time on his hand were to combine the genetic chromosomes of Napoleon Bonaparte and Robin Hood, they would likely create a Pixar facsimile of Timothy Geithner. Forgetting to extricate any genetic abnormalities that may pre-exist, this re-coded genetic human anomaly of fact and fiction would represent the 75th US Treasury of the United States. Viola!

This by no means is a compliment. Keep in mind, Napoleon met his end by being banished off to the French island of St. Helena, where he was eventually and slowly poisoned by arsenic. As for Robin Hood, he bleed out as a result of a self-inflicted wound (more or less). More particularly, he died because he drank poison that was surreptitiously served to him from an old girlfriend. Sadly, he died in the forest.

Mr. Geithner might yield some wisdom from these two causes of death. Neither of which are pretty, and in connection with his lame duck status and his penchant in pissing off people; rich and poor alike, he might be well advised to control his tongue to prevent self inflicted wounds, and to harvest better bed fellows – given Wall Street and Washington DC’s ravenous and long held tradition of spitting out despotic upstarts who get a little too uppidity for their own good. Editorial note: Be wary Mr. Geithner, in that the well you drink from may have been strategically placed by ill-intentioned comrades.

On a more comically level, Mr. Geithner’s understated ambivalence and detached demeanor is strikingly similar to the wildly popular “Mr. Mayhem” from the Allstate insurance commercials. In the iconoclast campaign of one episode, Mr. Mayhem plays a faulty GPS system that shouts “recalculating GPS” to purposefully cause the driver to crash into other vehicles; and in another commercial, Mr. Mayhem plays “I’m a teenage girl” who mindedly rams her oversized pink SUV into a parked vehicle while talking to her BFF on the phone.

In his dark suit, lean face, and well coifed hairline – that is almost Jacksonian in appearance, what Mr. Mayhem represents is uncertainty. He’s trouble walking down the street who has a charming smile. Aesthetically similar in appearance, Mr. Geithner presents the same darkness and unequivocal ambiguity for liberals.

Make no mistake about it, Mr. Geithner operates in absolutes! There are no 50 shades of grey for Mr. Geithner. And as a result, he represents a dichotomy for liberals, and for conservatives as well – and especially so for constitutional conservatives who abhor federal aid to banks (i.e., TARP). Although for your ‘red eggs and ham’ eating Republicans he is slightly less repugnant, that is only because he at least represents establishment money (think Goldman Sachs). For the died-in-wool-rightwing, Timmy is a frontline architect to government bailouts. In their tea sipping mind, he is Public Enemy Number 1.

Who is Timothy Geithner?

Superficially affable when need be, while at the same time being implicitly dismissive of others that don’t share his viewpoint of Wall Street – that is the true Timothy Geithner who stands up when implored by his supervisor. Bottomline, you’re not certain of his true strips. In terms of a survival mode hypothesis, if it came time to jettison irrelevant “baggage” off a canoe that Mr. Geithner were boarded on – and wherein there was room for a limited few, he would likely be a prime candidate for immediate eviction.

On a more street level perspective, and moving the context from Wall Street to the inside walls of Sing Sing in Upstate New York, Mr. Geithner would last about 3 minutes on the yard. Two minutes max! (And that’s on a good day). Despite his gift for the gab, it’s a difficult argument to make that wearing blue and red can actually work. (And mind you, that color distinction stands for Crips and Bloods, not Dems and Reps.) Maybe Bubba might be convinced. But Bubba doesn’t exercise that much and you’re out on the yard alone.

Tim’s Rap Sheet

The following is an abridged Readers Digest version of Mr. Geithner’s transgressions. If this were a Vanity Fair 8,000 words expose were one could employ interns for grunt research and multiple interviews with past colleagues of Mr. Geithner, then the list of ‘youthful indiscretions’ would likely be substantially longer. Enjoy the snapshot and consider it extra credit for those that find more transgressions.

*Negotiated a $30,000,000,000 billion dollar near zero interest rate loan (.01%) to Goldman Sachs in 2008, that only came to public disclosure after congressional investigation.

*Spearheaded payments to insurance firm AIG, that dictated a defacto word of silence, given that billions ($58,000,000,000 to be exact), were paid to foreign offshore banks headquartered outside of the United States – known as counterparties, that otherwise would not have been paid.

*Had oversight duties between US Treasury and Goldman Sachs, wherein the government paid $3,500,000,000 billion more for Goldman Sachs stock than what they were actually worth.

*Failure to pay $34,000 in back taxes over several years to the IRS in connection with the employment of an illegal immigrant.

*Does not support compensation and/or bonus limitations for Wall Street executives.

Armchair Critic

While it is easy to criticize from ones’ journalistic laptop, it’s always easier to look at the facts and transgressions (as notated above), of another’s professional portfolio to better sum up the plus and minuses of a particular individuals’ background. And while even the worst of the worst politicos from the Bush and Obama administrations were not Nazi’s – which is a benchmark I use when assessing the detestability level of any politician, there is a lot to be desired in some of Obama’s appointees when it comes to integrity and forthrightness.

However, when accessing feedback from the ‘detestability odometer’, Mr. Geithner presents himself as a pious gazelle without compunction; who never forgets to feed his own (Wall Street), while meticulously tending to the other suckling’s in his bosom (liberal denizens). He’s great at touting populist views – despite his aristocratic mannerisms and habits. And although Mr. Geithner does not have a Nazi chromosome in him, that doesn’t get him a “free get out of jail” pass when it comes to evaluating his job performance.

Fortunately, Americans for the most part are fairly adapt in calling out politicians and/or political appointees that fail the smell test. Or more particularly, fail in their fiduciary responsibility to the American public. In the end, character matters. And sadly, Mr. Geithner will be leaving the White House with a stench so heavy that the next administration will have a hard time eradicating his homemade funk out of the carpet, curtains and furniture of the Secretary’s office of the US Treasury.

In the end however, Timothy Geihtner is a romanticized version of stupidity. And like any truly self-absorbed political narcissist, Mr. Geithner enjoys holding court to all; with all the glory of a proletarian despot who speaks without reluctance.

D. Sidney Potter has worked in the real estate and mortgage industry since 1992 and is a licensed member of the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Association of Realtors. Mr. Potter has a BA in Political Science, 2 MBA’s and part of a doctorate degree from Pepperdine. He has extensive experience in both commercial and residential real estate in California, Nevada, and Arizona and has consulted investors and the media throughout the United States. Most recently he served on the Board of Directors for two major HOA’s in Las Vegas. In addition, Mr. Potter is a contributing writer to iReport (CNN), DigitalJournal and Newsvine.com (a part of MSNBC).