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« Bailout Comedy The Daily Show: Jon Stewart Wonders About The Goldman Sachs Connection To Washington | Main | Does The Devil Reside at 85 Broad Street: GoldmanSachs666.com Is Making Progress »

Stiglitz Slams Geithner, Summers, Obama and Goldman Sachs

Considering what we do here, is there really a need to explain the anger people feel about using borrowed money to bail out failed, private banks for their extreme leverage and risk, while their executives and employees made hundreds of billions in bonuses over the last decade.

Count me in the group that is extremely disappointed with President Obama for his continuation of the Bush-Paulson bailout doctrine. Continued capital injections while we whistle by the graveyard is just another way of saying 'Hello, Tokyo!" The Geithner PPIP is a taxpayer-leveraged give-away to the least deserving cretins since Enron was still breathing.

The time has long since passed for half-assed measures. The adult discussions need to begin. Bank shareholders and taxpayers have been hurt. Bank bondholders are still whole. Bill Gross is kicking our ass. Wall Street owns Washington.  George Carlin said it in his unique way.  Dylan Ratigan might have been fired over it.  Simon Johnson won't stop writing about it.  Glenn Greenwald proved it with links, and Matt Taibbi had a few thoughts as well.  But Geithner, Summers and Obama won't even acknowledge it.

Not to be outdone, Nobel laureate Dr. Joseph Stiglitz chimed in Friday with another round of truth for the disconnected troika.

The videos after the jump are as must see as it gets. Stiglitz nails it.

Short clip (3:45).

Full clip (11:25).

A recap from Bloomberg:

The Obama administration’s bank- rescue efforts will probably fail because the programs have been designed to help Wall Street rather than create a viable financial system, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said.

“All the ingredients they have so far are weak, and there are several missing ingredients,” Stiglitz said in an interview yesterday. The people who designed the plans are “either in the pocket of the banks or they’re incompetent.”

The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, isn’t large enough to recapitalize the banking system, and the administration hasn’t been direct in addressing that shortfall, he said. Stiglitz said there are conflicts of interest at the White House because some of Obama’s advisers have close ties to Wall Street.

“We don’t have enough money, they don’t want to go back to Congress, and they don’t want to do it in an open way and they don’t want to get control” of the banks, a set of constraints that will guarantee failure, Stiglitz said.

The return to taxpayers from the TARP is as low as 25 cents on the dollar, he said. “The bank restructuring has been an absolute mess.”

Rather than continually buying small stakes in banks, the government should put weaker banks through a receivership where the shareholders of the banks are wiped out and the bondholders become the shareholders, using taxpayer money to keep the institutions functioning, he said.

Nobel Prize

Stiglitz, 66, won the Nobel in 2001 for showing that markets are inefficient when all parties in a transaction don’t have equal access to critical information, which is most of the time. His work is cited in more economic papers than that of any of his peers, according to a February ranking by Research Papers in Economics, an international database.

Financial shares have rallied in the past month as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. all reported better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index has soared 91 percent from its low of 78.45 on March 6.

The Public-Private Investment Program, PPIP, designed to buy bad assets from banks, “is a really bad program,” Stiglitz said. It won’t accomplish the administration’s goal of establishing a price for illiquid assets clogging banks’ balance sheets, and instead will enrich investors while sticking taxpayers with huge losses, he said.

Bailing Out Investors

“You’re really bailing out the shareholders and the bondholders,” he said. “Some of the people likely to be involved in this, like Pimco, are big bondholders,” he said, referring to Pacific Investment Management Co., a bond investment firm in Newport Beach, California.

Stiglitz said taxpayer losses are likely to be much larger than bank profits from the PPIP program even though Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair has said the agency expects no losses.

“The statement from Sheila Bair that there’s no risk is absurd,” he said, because losses from the PPIP will be borne by the FDIC, which is funded by member banks.

Andrew Gray, an FDIC spokesman, said Bair never said there would be no risk, only that the agency had “zero expected cost” from the program.


“We’re going to be asking all the banks, including presumably some healthy banks, to pay for the losses of the bad banks,” Stiglitz said. “It’s a real redistribution and a tax on all American savers.”

Stiglitz was also concerned about the links between White House advisers and Wall Street. Hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co. paid National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers, a managing director of the firm, more than $5 million in salary and other compensation in the 16 months before he joined the administration. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

“America has had a revolving door. People go from Wall Street to Treasury and back to Wall Street,” he said. “Even if there is no quid pro quo, that is not the issue. The issue is the mindset.”

Stiglitz was head of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton before serving from 1997 to 2000 as chief economist at the World Bank. He resigned from that post in 2000 after repeatedly clashing with the White House over economic policies it supported at the International Monetary Fund. He is now a professor at Columbia University.

Critical of Stimulus

Stiglitz was also critical of Obama’s other economic rescue programs.

He called the $787 billion stimulus program necessary but “flawed” because too much spending comes after 2009, and because it devotes too much of the money to tax cuts “which aren’t likely to work very effectively.”

“It’s really a peculiar policy, I think,” he said.

The $75 billion mortgage relief program, meanwhile, doesn’t do enough to help Americans who can’t afford to make their monthly payments, he said. It doesn’t reduce principal, doesn’t make changes in bankruptcy law that would help people work out debts, and doesn’t change the incentive to simply stop making payments once a mortgage is greater than the value of a house.

Stiglitz said the Fed, while it’s done almost all it can to bring the country back from the worst recession since 1982, can’t revive the economy on its own.

Relying on low interest rates to help put a floor under housing prices is a variation on the policies that created the housing bubble in the first place, Stiglitz said.

Recreating Bubble

“This is a strategy trying to recreate that bubble,” he said. “That’s not likely to provide a long-run solution. It’s a solution that says let’s kick the can down the road a little bit.”

While the strategy might put a floor under housing prices, it won’t do anything to speed the recovery, he said. “It’s a recipe for Japanese-style malaise.”

Even with rates low, banks may not lend because they remain wary of market or borrower risk, and in the current environment “there’s still a lot of risk.” That’s why even with all of the programs the Fed and the administration have opened, lending is still very limited, Stiglitz said.

“They haven’t thought enough about the determinants of the flow of credit and lending.”

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Reader Comments (7)

Even Stiglitz will not come clean and tries to defend the biggest con of all, Obama. Jeez, Stiglitz would be more credible if he would take off the blinders...the Bailout is nothing more than a non-wastable opprtunity for the takeover of the Free Part of our Economy.
Wakeup fools, this is Generational Theft.
Apr 20, 2009 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterWestWright

I don't know. I agree with you that Stiglitz could be more credible and often leaves many things unsaid that I feel should be said. However, he does have to balance the fine line between disclosure and not burning any bridges unnecessarily (something many of us conveniently don't have to be concerned about). He still is: (i) highly intelligent, (ii) highly respected and (iii) at least as of late, highly visible. If his comments continue to get picked up by the MSM and at least convince a few of the insiders and lobbyist public servants the error of their ways, that is enough for me. It is all about momentum at this point and Stiglitz is definitely a friend in helping to turn the tide.

I definitely give anyone willing to provide this kind of honest commentary at significantly more personal cost to themselves than the rest of us their due praise, complements and respect.
Apr 20, 2009 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterspideydouble

I'll do you one better and say that Stiglitz is more credible (in some circles anyway) because he doesn't criticize Obama too harshly. At least right now, as we've talked about here recently, the MSM is cocked and ready to label any criticism of Obama or his policies as covertly Republican, "right-wing" and partisan.

But yes, Stiglitz is definitely a strong, high-profile ally.

Funny, I had half hoped that the Obama election would mean an end to what libertarian writer Justin Raimondo calls "Bizarro World" -- the strange post-9/11 political scene in which black is white, war is peace, lack of evidence is proof-positve, etc. You would think that Obama would find strong allies in high-profile, left-leaning Keynesians like Stiglitz, Krugman and Galbraith. But not so -- they're all on our side! (At least as far as the bailouts go.) Bizarro World lives on.
Apr 20, 2009 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames H
Even "Bizzaro World" has an end time......The machinery that runs "Bizzaro World" is grinding to a halt. What's next...."F'd Up World'?
Apr 20, 2009 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAin't Bullshittin'

Is that "f**ked up" or "Fed up"? ;)
Apr 20, 2009 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames H
Stiglitz: Global financial system in critical need of reform



Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, said on Friday that the global financial system is in critical need of reform, as its instability bodes problems for both "rich" and "poor".

The recent global financial crisis is related to the global financial system in general, as the system does not self-correct or self-stabilize, according to Stiglitz. A new system that can serve the whole world is needed, Stiglitz said.
Jul 8, 2011 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
Dec 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn

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