The President’s job is to make them afraid and sometimes to kill them
President Obama isn’t raising a lot of money from Wall Street and the bankers. They shelled out big for that first campaign but this time they’re going with the favorite son. They know President Obama has a good chance of winning but they’re hardly bothering to tithe, never mind pay anything resembling tribute.
That’s because they have his number. They’ve seen that what he says about them isn’t connected with what he does about them. They’re not afraid he’ll take material offense at their lack of respect.
This is absurd. Bankers and brokers were worried before the election. They should have been terrified following it. Instead, they’re cocky.
Everyone knows they fucked up: everyone. They know it; President Obama knows it; Secretary Geithner knows it; the former Wall Street defense attorneys running the Justice Department know it.
The banks and Wall Street are businesses over which the executive branch has absolute power. The President, and to a lesser extent other executive branch officials, can torch the market purely by accident with a word.
The President can direct his cabinet officers and agencies to take a regulatory and prosecutorial bat to Wall Street’s knees. In extremis, he can seize banks, break them up, run their officers out of town on a rail. Things were damned extreme, weren’t they? Still are for many millions of people.
There was a compact. The bankers and brokers get to make as much money as they possibly can in exchange for not wrecking the economy. If they default on the bargain, the President, any president, will shed their blood.
I worked as a Wall Street attorney during the years I was between government posts in the 1960s. Wall Street included elements of the casino and the abattoir back then. Now it’s much worse. Large bits of the Street’s business are what the young people might call vaporware, transactions that have no real use other than to keep money circulating through the counting rooms so the house can take their cut.
Take insurers such as AIG, who sold customers insurance policies promising coverage far beyond the company’s capacity to pay. The company gambled that they would never have to pay out. Customers gambled the same thing, only they didn’t know it. That’s the most comprehensible example but far from the only one.
Well. Neither here nor there, really. What happened is that they brought the temple down and now they’re making more money than ever. They had to pay fines, some of them, amounting to a few year’s worth of executive bonuses, which of course they paid themselves for having got off so lightly.
President Obama and his crew of bankers, brokers and fellow travelers stepped between them and the mob and he didn’t make them suffer for the favor. They didn’t respect him in the morning and they don’t respect him now and they won’t respect him next time, and next time is coming. We’re all the worse off for it.
Well, you’re all the worse off for it. I’m fine whichever way it goes. I know where all the bodies are buried.