On purpose, that is. To bring down the present economic system, inhale the competition, and consolidate our assets. We are so sorry. Just like the last four or five times when we ran the exact same scam, erm, mistake.
Flashback: Explosive Leaked Emails Expose Treasury Secretary Geithner’s Deception in ‘Backdoor Bailout’ | America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels | US Bankers Get $4 Trillion Gift From Barney Frank | Financial reform bill passes U.S. House | Taibbi: Obama’s sellout to Wall Street creates ‘permanent bailout’ | Fed Sicks Attack Dogs On Ron Paul After Audit Amendment Passes | How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash | Bernanke continues pressing for sweeping new powers for Fed | Federal Reserve Appeals Order to Disclose Emergency Bank Loans | Judge Orders Federal Reserve To Disclose Who Received Bailout Trillions | Geithner lambastes US economic watchdogs resistant to planned transfer of powers to Federal Reserve | Former NY governor Spitzer: Federal Reserve is ‘a Ponzi scheme, an inside job’ | Hands off the Fed, Bernanke warns Congress | US Senate Blocks Bill To Audit The Fed As Government Prepares For Second Round Of Looting | Taibbi: NYSE ends transparency to protect Goldman Sachs | Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine | Obama Regulatory Reform Plan Officially Establishes Banking Dictatorship In United States | Obama unveils overhaul of financial system oversight | 10 U.S. banks to repay U.S. bailout money | Federal Reserve To Be Given Sweeping New Powers | HR 1207: Battle To Audit The Fed Has Only Just Begun | Top Senate Democrat: bankers “own” the U.S. Congress | Barclays, Lloyd’s, RBS join Goldman-Sachs in the black | Goldman-Sachs to repay TARP loan, resume private operations, bonuses, at “earliest time” possible | Wall Street’s Big Takeover | Behind the panic: Financial warfare over the future of global bank power | | Private Federal Reserve Makes Power Grab as Bush, McCain Urge Congress to Approve Plan | Goldman-Sachs Alumni Hold Reins of Financial System | Treasury’s Plan Would Give Fed Wide New Power | Financial ’super cop’ role for Fed
Daniel Nasaw, The Guardian
January 13, 2010
Chief executives accept some activities were ‘improper’ in testimony to commission, but remain defiant over pay
Leading Wall Street bankers said today they underestimated the severity of the financial crisis and apologised for making mistakes as a US government commission began its inquiry into the root causes of the banking meltdown.
In a dramatic hearing, the chief executives of four of the world’s biggest banks, led by Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan, faced tough questioning over their role in the crisis, which ended with the US industry being bailed out with $360bn (Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£221bn) of taxpayer’s money and saw Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âunemployment rise to a 26-year high.
The hearing took place as Barack Obama, who has talked tough about bank bonuses and sought to strengthen regulation of the financial industry, Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âprepared to unveil a plan for recouping some of the billions in bailout funds by imposing a fee on banks.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters last night that an apology from Wall Street leaders “would be the least of what anybody might expect.”
“People are angry,” chairman Phil Angelides, a former Democratic treasurer of California, told the executives, aides, media and officials packed into a chilly hearing room at the US Capitol. “They have a right to be.”
But the bankers refused to pander to the growing public fury about bonuses and defended their levels of pay.
Dimon, whose bank emerged well from the crisis, said most of his employees took “significant cuts in compensation” in 2008 but said JP Morgan would continue to pay to attract and retain top talent.
The bankers used their opening remarks to divert blame away from their institutions and lay it on mortgage lending practices, under-regulation of the mortgage broking industry and government promotion of home ownership.
But in a telling exchange, the combative Angelides took Blankfein to task for the practice of packaging toxic assets into securities and selling them to investors even as Goldman Sachs was making money by “shorting” the same securities. These included risky mortgages extended to borrowers with poor credit records and helped cause the home-loan bust.
“We are market makers: in most of these cases the person who came to us came to us for the exposure they wanted to have,” Blankfein said. “These are professional investors who want this exposure.” But Angelides said: “It sounds like selling a car with faulty brakes and then buying an insurance policy” on the driver.
Blankfein replied: “I do think the behaviour is improper. We regret the consequence that people have lost money.”
Like the other witnesses, Blankfein acknowledged lapses in judgment in some practices leading up to the crisis.
“Whatever we did, it didn’t work out well,” he said. “We were going to bed every night with more risk than any responsible manager would want to have.”
Dimon too was forced to admit that: “We did make mistakes and there were things we could have done better.” The commission was created in May by an act of Congress and will meet several times this year. It is modelled on the Pecora commission which investigated the 1929 Wall Street crash. Its findings helped lead to the formation of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and other key reforms.
The commission’s vice chairman, former congressman Bill Thomas, a Republican, said the inquiry would try “to get to the bottom of what happened and explain it in a way that the American people can understand”. Thomas said one important question was: “If you knew then what you do now, what would you have done differently?” Dimon admitted a crucial blunder was “how we just missed that housing prices don’t go up forever.”
John Mack, head of Morgan Stanley, delivered a long lecture about how good his risk management was at Morgan Stanley, with stress-tests for all scenarios. But then when he was asked whether his bank had stress-tested for a fall in the housing market he admitted: “No, that was one we missed.”
However, the bankers insisted that regulators played a role in the crisis, arguing that they failed to keep up with the proliferation of new, sophisticated financial products — such as mortgage-backed securities and credit insurance — and lacked authority to police the growing markets.
“In many instances, stronger regulation may have been able to prevent some of the problems,” Dimon said in his prepared testimony.
Mack called for an umbrella regulating agency covering all aspects of the financial services industry, while Dimon said that in the future, policymakers must do a better job of identifying gaps in regulations left by the development of new financial instruments. “I don’t think it’s unique to the financial services,” he said. “New products have problems.”
But he added: “The solution is not to cap the size of financial firms… We need a regulatory system that provides for even the biggest banks to be allowed to fail, but in a way that does not put taxpayers or the broader economy at risk.”
Mack said firms were too highly leveraged and lacked resources to effectively manage the risk they took on.
Blankfein, the major target of questioning, lay the cause of the financial crisis on shoddy lending and credit practices. He said that the sophisticated financial instruments that baffle policymakers and the public aggravated problems originating in bad lending decisions.
“After the fact, it is easy to be convinced that the signs were visible and compelling,” Blankfein said in his prepared testimony. “But none of us know what is going to happen.”
However, he urged policymakers to resist “wholesale reform”, saying that the removal of risk from the financial system would hinder economic growth.
“We should resist a response that is solely designed around protecting us from the 100-year storm,” he said. He also warned against abandoning certain financial instruments and markets, saying it would constrain access to capital and hamper the distribution of risk. He advised the commission to remain focused on lending practices, rather than on sophisticated financial instruments.
“There is more than enough blame to go around, but we would do the process of meaningful reform a disservice if we allowed factors or areas that have had far less of a direct impact on the events of the last two years to detract from a focus on the underlying reasons,” he said.
What they said
Phil Angelides, commission chairman and former California state treasurer
“It sounds like selling a car with faulty brakes and then buying an insurance policy” on the driver.
“People are angry. They have a right to be,” citing Wall Street bonuses.
“I see this commission as a proxy for the American people … If we ignore history, we’re doomed to bail it out again.”
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs
Goldman “got caught up in and participated in and therefore contributed to elements of froth in the market”.
“We talked ourself into … complacency which we should not have gotten ourselves into, and which, after these events, will not happen again in my lifetime as far as I’m concerned.” “Rationalisations … were made to justify that the downward pricing of risk was justified.”
“I think we have a very, very tough regulator,” he said of the bank’s current regulation by the Federal Reserve.
Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan
“We did make mistakes, there are a number of things we could have done better.”
“But let me be clear: no institution, including our own, should be too big to fail.”
John Mack, chairman of Morgan Stanley
“We did eat our own cooking and we choked on it,” he said of the company’s mortgage investments.
Brian Moynihan, chief executive of the Bank of America
“Interconnectedness,” not bigness, led to the need for taxpayer bailouts
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Environment Head Wants Global Warming Tax | Ottawa considering aid for private broadcasters | Financial Post editor: America’s future at risk of ‘inflationary outburst’ | U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar | IMF poised to print billions of dollars in ‘global quantitative easing’ | G20 officials pledge ‘whatever action necessary’ to revive economy | Changes to law could affect navigation of Canadian waters, critics say | Mainstream Financial Publication Finally Admits that Austrian Economists Were Right | Global recession deepening, Geithner says | Obama calls for G20 joint action | UK Central Bank begins using ‘new’ money | Brace for sharp slump, IMF warns Canada | IMF, World Bank predict a global recession | Worst crisis since 1930s says Fed, calls for ‘forceful action’ | Jobs data grim, Flaherty says | Atlas felt a sense of dÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©jÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â vu | UK government takes control over Lloyd’s bank | Canada expects EU free-trade talks soon: Stockwell Day | GM pensions: Who’s responsible? | Stimulus needed now, Bank of Canada says | GM says it will go bust in days without new US bail-out | Terence Corcoran: Ontario’s green energy plan sneaks in feed-in taxes | Time to emulate Roosevelt’s New Deal and create green jobs | Central bank tactics pushed to brink | Ontario facing massive deficit | Obama outlines ‘hard choices’ budget | UK: Loss-making Northern Rock to pay bonuses to managers | IMF emergency fund is doubled to $500bn, Northern Rock bank granted $14bn bailout | EU backs sweeping new financial rules, more power for IMF | GM wants twice as much taxpayer’s money | Volcker sees crisis leading to global regulation | Gold Tops $1,000, First Time Since March as Recession Deepens | Stocks Drop Around the World; Stoxx 600 Falls to 6-Year Low | Greenspan backs bank nationalisation | Behemoth budget bill to be rammed through parliament unread | Obama signs stimulus bill | Congressman warns unread ’stimulus’ bill will prolong agony | Gordon Brown seeks sweeping reforms to give IMF global ’surveillance role’ | $787B stimulus package passes through U.S. Congress | Paul Martin prescribes international regulatory body for ailing fiat economies | US Congress reaches deal on economic stimulus package | World stocks fall on skepticism over U.S. bank plan | Next US bailout could top $1-trillion | Geithner Said to Have Prevailed on the Bailout | Canada lost 129,000 jobs in January: StatsCan | Economic crisis: The shakeup Canadians need? | Pass stimulus or watch out, Obama warns | Canadian credit card delinquencies rising | Iceland to be fast-tracked into the EU | France responds to economic downturn with a general strike | U.S. House passes $819B economic stimulus | World Economic Forum elite blame ‘profit’, not fraud, for crisis | Fed infrastructure money requires provincial spending | Ignatieff lets government stand with budget amendment demand | Rewriting the rulebook for 21st-century capitalism | Obama urges Republicans to support economic plan | The budget: Global shock therapy | All maxed out? Budget measures would improve credit access | $12B for infrastructure forms key pillar of stimulus package | Few surprises as government turns on the spending taps | U.S. Senate confirms Geithner as treasury secretary despite reservations | Iceland’s government collapses | Optimistic central bank expects speedy economic rebound | Ottawa risks erasing decade of debt reduction | Canadian, U.S. energy policies to be inextricably linked: Prentice | Business Development Bank will get $350M injection, Clement says | Prominent Economist: Crisis Caused By Government Interventions | New UK bank bailout | Vancouver dodges public referendum requirement for funding to finish Olympic Village | Zimbabwe unveils 100 trillion dollar banknote | Financial crisis: Bank of America given $138bn rescue package | Q&A: Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with The Post’s John Ivison | Premiers to press Harper for infrastructure boost | Vancouver mayor to recall legislature to handle Olympic Village crisis | Bring in a Canadian securities regulator: Flaherty’s handpicked business panel | Merged Citigroup, Morgan brokerage would be largest | Obama to visit Canada, Tories to propose ‘integrated carbon market’ | Brace for a big, ‘comprehensive’ budget: Harper | Canadians starting to save cash, shun debt | GM’s U.S. bailout deal bars strikes | European Leaders Call For New Global Order | Transport Minister Baird calls for dramatic action on stimulus package | Obama calls for ‘dramatic action’ on stimulus package | UK PM unveils ‘New Deal’ plan to create 100,000 jobs | Flaherty vows short-lived deficit, consults corporate chiefs on spending initiatives | Analyst: One Third Of Banks Could Collapse or Merge In 2009 | Auto bailout gives Federal, Provincial governments incremental nationalization powers | Banks won’t say where U.S. bailout money going | UK: Bailiffs get power to use force on debtors | Kissinger Calls For New International System Out Of World Crises | Canadian auto bailout could reach more than $4-billion | U.S. to spend $17.4-billion to ‘rescue’, nationalize auto industry | Harper government plans deficits as deep as $30 billion | Flaherty appoints business leaders to economic advisory council | IMF Chief Warns Of Riots In Response To Economic Crisis | Bank of Canada ready to monetize distressed equities | Canada may backstop ABCP rescue: Flaherty | The ugly spectre of ‘new Keynesianism’ and the self-appointed Guardians | Army ‘Strategic Shock’ Report Says Troops May Be Needed To Quell U.S. Civil Unrest | Federal government, Ontario agree on $3.3B auto bailout package | ‘Outrage’ greets banks’ failure to match rate cut | State to bail out, control US auto industry | Get close to Obama on economy and security, paper says | Financial Times: And now for a world government | Terence Corcoran: It’s Twilight for Detroit and the U.S. economy | Mexico to downsize metal in coins to save a few cents | Automakers seek $6B aid package from Ontario, federal government | Bank of England mulls “nuclear option” of cash injection | Zimbabwe tackles cash shortage amid riots and looting | Icelanders storm central bank in protest | Liberals and NDP sign unprecedented pact; to pursue stimulus, carbon taxes | UN Climate Change Conference open with call for ‘co-operation’ | UK closer to joining euro, EU commission president says | Iceland turns 90 amid economic ruin, currency freeze | TSX drops 600 points, N.Y. also falls | Britain buys control of Royal Bank of Scotland | Iceland inflation soars to 17.1% | Canada in recession: OECD | Maybe we should look at Zimbabwe before trying to print our way out of a money crisis | Britain to introduce massive stimulus package | Obama appoints architects of economic collapse, financial globalism to economic team | Jim Flaherty Urging Greater Federal, International Control over Canadian economy | Citigroup seeks ‘emergency cash’ | Deficits ‘essential,’ Harper says | Harper vows Canada will remain open to international trade | 5 injured during protest in Iceland over economic meltdown | ‘Hard decisions’ needed during economic crisis: throne speech | Paulson, Bernanke defend change of plan: $700-billion now to be given directly to banks | After G20 meeting, Ottawa ready to spend to spark economy | Congress Accuses Federal Reserve Bagman Of Bailout “Bait and Switch” During Angry Hearing | Flaherty eyes sale of Canadian government assets | Analysts Predict Hyper-Inflation To Push Gold To $2000, Oil to $300 | Terence Corcoran: Rescuers pulling market under | U.S. government won’t use bailout fund to buy troubled assets | Ottawa to pour another $50B into mortgage markets | Bank of Canada adds $8B to credit markets | Merrill CEO: Economic Environment Recalls 1929 | Fed Hides Destination Of $2 Trillion In Bailout Money | PM, premiers agree to speed up infrastructure investment | Flaherty lauds Keynesian global ‘economic stimulus’ strategies | Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse? | The Bush gang’s parting gift: a final, frantic looting of public wealth | IMF may need to “print money”, act as “world’s central bank” as crisis spreads | Morgan Chase Exec Brags Bailout Is for Takeovers, Restructuring, Not Lending | Draft letter calls on IMF to play critical role in financial crisis | Ottawa to guarantee interbank lending | More cash needed to save economy: Bernanke | Wall Street banks in $70bn staff payout | German parliament backs bail-out | Regulator says brokers failed on ABCP, sets new guidelines | US Bailout Cost Heads Towards $5 Trillion | Market Euphoria Dissipates | Loonie leaps, then reverses course | $25B credit backstop for banks ‘not a bailout’: Harper | Brown wants ‘global’ bank support | US considers following British example of taking stakes in banks | New World Order: Global co-operation, nationalisation and state intervention — all in one day | TSX closes up 226 points in wild day after rate cuts | Federal Reserve Moves to Monetize Commercial Paper Debts | Stocks recoup some losses after markets hit by panic selling | Star column blames ‘Capitalism’ for market woes, offers false choice: Authoritarianism or Socialism | Bank of Canada greases financial system with $12B in new cash | Stock markets drop despite bailout | Why Paulson’s Plan is a Fraud | Representatives Were Threatened With Martial Law In America Over Bailout Bill | Congress Rejects (First) Bail-Out Plan | Congressman Ron Paul: Bailout Will Destroy Dollar, World Economy | Paul Martin calls for ‘global solution’ | Markets sink as woes spread | UK banking shares plunge as crisis deepens | Congressman Ron Paul Schools Fed Chairman Bernanke on the Bailout Plan | Bailout is “petty cash”, Inflation is the Federal Reserve’s real crime | Private Federal Reserve Makes Power Grab as Bush, McCain Urge Congress to Approve Plan | Canadian Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in ABCP case | Last major investment banks in U.S. change status | U.S., British market regulators ban short-selling | Next Federal Reserve bank bailout round could cost taxpayers 1$ Trillion Dollars | Bank of Canada piles on in global inflationary swindle | Central banks continue inflating global economy | Central Banks Move to Transfer Wealth from Taxpayers to Banks | Crisis on Wall St. as firms collapse | Goldman-Sachs Alumni Hold Reins of Financial System | Frontrunners emerge in scramble to save another major bank | Lehman Brothers on Verge of Collapse, Wall Street Fears | US Treasury nationalizes Freddie Mae, Fannie Mac | Cities Debate Giving Away Public Infrastructure to Bankers | Court Grants Big Banks Immunity from Lawsuits over Derivatives Losses | Bush Calls for New Highway Tolls, More Private Funding of Roads | US mortgage firm bailout includes rider clause to expand police state: all credit card transactions now to be reported to IRS | Global ‘liberalization’ illusion under threat. Economist calls for world economic regime, Keynesian saviour. Irony? | Federal Reserve cites global stakes in Fannie and Freddie rescue | Financial ’super cop’ role for Fed | What Really Killed Bear Stearns? | Soros points out regulated markets fail to operate on market fundamentals, calls for more regulation | Competition study calls for lowered barriers to foreign ownership, bank mergers | Massive overhaul urged on foreign investment in airlines, media, and banks | Bilderberg Seeks Bank Centralization Agenda | Secretive Bilderberg Group Reverses Policy, Releases Press Release and Attendance List | Banks face “new world order,” consolidation: report