After reading Christmas stories to my grandchildren and helping put them to bed, I sat back in my easy chair and looked at those old tales and slowly drifted off to sleep, perchance to dream of an Elves and Reindeer CALL TO ACTION!
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Snow was swirling about the North Pole and the denizens were gathered and angrily shouting over one another.
“The large commercial banks are making a mockery of the American people and billions of taxpayers dollars they have been given—with no strings—by the Bush Administration, with the banks all but refusing do their part to stimulate the economy by lending that money to individuals, businesses, or other banks,” shouted Dancer!
“Presumably the Treasury and the Federal Reserve made these taxpayers funds available to the banks so they would lend that money in the markets they serve, break the nation’s credit logjam, and do their part to bringing an end to the economic slowdown gripping the United States,” screamed Foppie the elf intellectual.
“Instead the banks are holding onto this free money and arbitraging it or, worse, using it to pay higher dividends, larger salaries, or acquire other banks,” roared Dancer.
“Most people on earth, recently, have learned of a new form of protest and disdain, when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush, an Arab cultural gesture meant to suggest that, ‘You are not worth the dirt beneath my feet,’ ” pointed out Mrs. Claus, who always read the newspapers.
“I think we should take advantage of that new found understanding and turn it on the big banks, “ proclaimed Prancer.
“People should take their old shoes and just deliver them to the front of bank offices, all across the nation, as a protest against the banks for failing to do their part and NOT LENDING money to their individual and business customers, “ declared Rudolph.
“They should let the large banks know that their continued selfish, gluttonous, and piggish behavior makes them, in their eyes, the banks are ‘not worth the dirt beneath their feet,’ ” added Vixen.
“I hope folks don’t throw your shoes at anyone or at the bank offices, they just need to put them the front doors as a silent protest and reflection of their unhappiness with bank actions. If the banks are smart, they will take those collected shoes and donate them to local charities supporting those who need help. “Said Clarence, the oldest and wisest of the Elves.
“But when have the banks been smart?” asked Dancer
I awoke with a start. Was I dreaming. Did it happem, would it happen, could it happen. I don’t know, I guess we’ll find out!
A Holiday Wish for President-Elect Obama
My thanks to Mr. X—who has been a first hand witness to so many significant industry and regulatory events--for reminding me of this historic anecdote, which has so much parallel in today’s events.
It’s 1993 and newly elected President Bill Clinton, who had just campaigned and won on, “It’s the economy, stupid” is meeting with his senior financial advisor—soon to be named Comptroller of the Currency--Gene Ludwig. Ludwig explains that more bank lending would stimulate the struggling economy but notes some minor justification for banks laying back and accumulating capital.
Clinton makes up his mind to an appropriate course of action and then goes on to convene two White House meetings--to which everyone who is anybody in financial services is invited—and his message is, “You God damned lenders will begin making loans to your customers and it is the job of you God damned regulators to make that they do!” (Mr. Z assures me that was the tenor or the exact words Clinton employed.)
President Bush (remember him) and Secretary Paulson won’t hold this meeting and President-elect Obama must, once he takes office.