Simon Johnson is saying we’re headed for a showdown with the bankers. The forbearance strategy that Obama is using is going to prolong the problem and cost us a lot more money in the form of much higher taxes if Treasury does not force the bankers to back down. Incredibly, the finance industry, especially Goldman-Sachs, is making the situation worse:
In the case of Goldman, the explicit intention is to pay back TARP funds and to escape all government-imposed limitations on compensation. This would obviously be good for Goldman and the people who run it. Anything that strengthens their advantage over competitors and increases market share will presumably raise their profits and compensation, making it easier to attract even more good people.
Such developments would worsen the business prospects of other large banks and potentially threaten their financial situation. The government’s forbearance strategy is fragile unless big banks do as the supervisors tell them. But Goldman and other major players apparently think they have so much political power- and this may be more about connections on Capitol Hill than links with the administration- that they can ignore the supervisors.
Go read the whole thing. Goldman is playing a global game of Monopoly with the potential for devastating consequences for all of us. Now that I think of it, didn’t Hank Paulsen hate Lehman Brothers? And wasn’t he the former CEO of Goldman? Is bankruptcy the way G-S is eliminating their competition? Something strange and unsavory is going on with G-S and the other banks that feels like out of control aggressive avarice.
And who are the people on Capitol Hill who refuse to put a stop to it all? Frank? Dodd?
Johnson says there’s no time like the present to engage the Department of Justice to enforce and prosecute antitrust laws. So, who is standing in the way of a showdown?