At some point, doesn’t the entire financial brouhaha and ensuing mess begin to feel like a Monopoly game gone to the crapper? A few thoughts before today’s House Financial Services committee hearing with AIG execs beginning at 10 am ET.
C-Span3 will have live coverage and we will as well.
— The problems do not start nor do they end with AIG. So whatever heated up kabuki members of Congress have planned today for the cameras? A little reminder: it’s what they DO once those cameras are turned off that matters most.
— This from the WaPo needs reading from every thinking member of the committee BEFORE the hearing:
After all, if the government hadn’t stepped in, AIG would have gone bankrupt and those whiz-bang traders could have lined up with all the other unsecured creditors at the bankruptcy court to see how much money they might receive three or four years down the road. And the government could still put the company into bankruptcy anytime it chooses.
Moreover, the Justice Department would surely have been within its rights to launch an extensive civil and criminal investigation into whether those bonuses were granted as part of an ongoing conspiracy to defraud shareholders — a conspiracy in which the traders were knowing participants. As part of that investigation, prosecutors could have also prepared a public report to the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and Congress listing the names and home addresses of all the traders who were slated to receive the bonuses, along with a detailed description of their role in creating the mess that brought down the company. There could even be a chart listing their salaries, bonuses and other perks over the past decade.
That goes for every other company trying to feed at the public trough who does not get the fact that it should no longer be self-enriching-priority-numero-uno business as usual.
— David Leonhardt takes it several steps further. A must read. Never, ever thought I’d see an argument for a more progressive tax on upper income brackets on the Business pages of the NYTimes.
— Dear hypocrites like Mitch McConnell, who rubber stamped every economic deregulation down the pike for years and now wants us to hold them all blameless: Here’s a word for ya, and one you are familiar with in spades (YouTube): no. As Duncan asks, is it possible for them to stop genuflecting before cash to try and gin up their own faux populism? Maybe. But I sure as hell wouldn’t buy it for a second given their long track record of market worship and "screw you, I got mine" policies, would you?
— Felix Salmon takes a stab at unravelling the AIG bailout.
— The WSJ takes it a step further down the hedge fund road.
— Finally, I don’t think we’ll be seeing this theme in AIG ads in the future — unless it ends with the kid running screaming out of the room in terror: