Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Message For the Treasury!

Congress needs to endorse, with qualifications, the Administration “Bailout” Wall Street and main street plan. When you read this, that process should be far along.

Hank Paulson claims the government will need to buy $700 billion or more of mortgage backed securities (MBS) from the commercial and investment banks which made very bad business decisions to originate that rot and/or buy them in the first place.

I am going to make this follow up suggestion so easy that even Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Rep. John Bohner (R-Ohio), the House Minority Leader can understand it.

The Treasury just acquired 8000 highly skilled employees, when it put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under conservatorship. These mortgage market talented men and women have spent their professional lives underwriting, buying and selling mortgages and mortgage backed securities, USE THEM FOR THIS NEW FEDERAL TASK.

When this mammoth exercise begins, the government will need to re-underwrite and price those securities, acquire them, and then sell or hold those mbs until the market solidifies and the mortgage backed bonds fetch a better price. This very government action will act to strengthen the overall MBS market, but might take years.

To not employ Fannie and Freddie, extensively, in the Treasury’s new task would be stupefying and suggests more of the old Right Wing, “We hate all things Fannie and Freddie, so why would we use them?”

Ignore their availability, their talent, the fact that they are now under government control, and try and duplicate crudely with other government employees, and you risk a foolish waste of precious resources. You will miss a golden opportunity to put a dent in the Himalaya of “poison mbs” which the American people soon will own.

The Treasury shouldn’t go any farther than Wisconsin Avenue and McLean, Virginia to start the attack against this “block of granite” (an insider term from Fannie’s pre-1982 history). No new bureaucracies, no “Ginnie Mae” (HUD’s Government National Mortgage Association) except to support Fannie and Freddie. Give the suddenly “mission less” and former GSE work forces something real to do.

The Administration already brought in its own apparatchiks to run Fannie and Freddie. Hire a few more of those out of work Wall Streeters, put them to work, and let the former GSE operatives--who have the natural capacity and understanding to evaluate (price!) and understand these securities--move this product.

Turn them loose, with profits going to the Treasury.

Take advantage of their efficient operations and don’t create unnecessary redundancy, since you now own Fannie and Freddie. Just because you and your allies spent years trashing Fannie and Freddie, doesn’t mean all that rhetoric was true or the two can’t help immeasurably get this job done. They likely can do better than any ad hoc group you might cobble together to take on this major new government challenge, which if done sloppily just perpetuates the problem you are trying to solve.

Oh and when you ask these Fannie and Freddie employees to carry your water here, consider apologizing for the damage you did to them, their families, their mission, and their company’s shareholders.

Obama and McCain

When Senator John McCain’s campaign ran an attack ad against Senator Barack Obama, featuring a picture of Frank Raines, some purported historical headlines, and a photo of an elderly woman worried about losing her home, I got very angry.

The McCain campaign’s effort was scurrilous to somehow tie Raines to Obama (who enjoy a very limited relationship) and then use Fannie Mae as a club to hammer the Democratic nominee.

More so, as I noted in a letter I sent to the New York Times, was the fact that several of the senior McCain campaign staff had worked for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as lobbyists and political and public relations consultants. I identified six (TIME magazine added 13 more).

The Times never printed my letter, which I shared with some friends, but shortly after I emailed it to the paper, I began getting press calls about it and I repeated to various media what I had written to the newspaper.

Articles were written. Senator Obama used the information in speeches in Florida and elsewhere.

That might have ended it, but Senator McCain took umbrage and defended his campaign director, Rick Davis, whom I had identified in my letter and who had done some work for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2000, when we helped create the “Homeownership Alliance,” an advocacy group supporting homeownership.

The GOP presidential candidate said Rick Davis had nothing to do with the companies and had ended his relationships (with Fannie in 2004), but the New York Times--this time without my assistance--found out that Davis still was getting paid by Freddie for all purpose lobbying activities and had been doing so, up until last month’s GSE lobbying ban!

If, as I believe, the death spiral of the McCain campaign started last week, because of this story, McCain’s colorless response to the “bail out” mess, his failed Cecil B. Deville performance during White House negotiations over the Treasury’s emergency plan, and then McCain’s debate weaknesses, I plan to tell my grandkids that their Daddy’s daddy might have played a small role in Barack Obama presidential victory!

Maloni 9-28-2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"For Five and a Half Years......"

I am Too Big to Fail, choose me, pretty please!
No, you’re not TBTF! You are. You are, but not you!
I am. I am. Pick me or I’ll die on your lawn and stink!
Well now, ahem, I think you are Too Big to Fail!”

We now know that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “Too Big to Fail” (TBTF), but Indy Mac and Lehman Brothers were not.

Remember friends and my fellow Americans, "Too Big To Fail" always has been “existential,” which means the definition is not written anywhere and the financial authorities will know it when they see it and act accordingly.

After the Fed’s famous 180 degree turnaround (“You can believe what we say…until we change out mind”), we now know that AIG is TBTF, at least temporarily, although nobody is really sure why.

Will the Fed start running AIG? Do they know anything about the insurance business or the credit default business? Maybe the Fed can bring back Alan Greenspan, as their official “gecko.” Dr. Greenspan’s visual acuity recently seems to have grown by leaps and bounds, as a federal retiree, when he now opines on issues which he couldn’t quite see when he headed the nation’s central bank.

Just as I did with their takeout of Bear Stearns, I support this week’s AIG intervention and give Bernanke and the Treasury the benefit of the doubt.

Does anyone think that General Motors is TBTF or Washington Mutual? There will be bellows of support and opposition in Congress when these guys come with their hands out and they will come with their hands out.

Let’s see, Michigan has how many electoral votes?

McCain and North Vietnam

What would Sarah Palin say to these corporate supplicants, besides remind us that Senator McCain was “a prisoner of the North Vietnamese for five years?” I am not belittling that terrible experience or McCain’s courage and gustiness, but I have heard McCain and his handlers use that exact construction when asked questions he doesn’t want to answer or for which he doesn’t have an answer.

McCain’s performance this week on economic matters is chilling. He really doesn’t understand and he’s made himself into such a political chameleon and his pronouncements are so vague, I don’t know what the man really supports.

Fannie and Freddie

Dan Mudd and Dick Syron are gone from their top GSE jobs and richer for it, but not quite as well of financially as they could be. Will they fight the Federal Housing Finance Agency decision limiting their severance packages or quietly go along?

Dan has little less than $3 million in play, to which his contract says he is entitled, but Dick risks losing close to $10 million.

When you have Bob Barnett, Williams and Connolly, and a contract (meaning “contract law” should prevail), as Mudd has, it’s tempting to want to fight, especially given OFHEO nee FHFA’s losing efforts in these matters with Leland Brendsel and Frank Raines. But, my advice would be to walk away with what you can, eschew the legal fight, because even by winning, you would lose. Is the money worth the toll on your life, family, and future?

Is anyone surprised that doom and gloom stalk employees at both companies. Some of the newer workers never toiled when both were humming with positive energy, not the current funereal mood at both places. You missed something special, kids.

What are they Doing to Those Companies?

If those ex-GSE CEOs want to strike a blow for justice, they could ask the new overseers just what kinds of operational advice are they giving the companies they left behind?

Rumor is that “downtown” is hectoring the GSEs to lower prices and remove all obstacles to making mortgage deals. That’s fine counsel, Mr. Lockhart, but just a few weeks ago FHFA and you were advising the companies to tighten up lending standards and increase fees to protect against losses and grow capital?

It’s disturbing that insiders say this message came from FHFA shortly after the Mortgage Bankers Association reportedly asked the White House to force Fannie and Freddie to lower their new fees and some of their tighter underwriting changes.

What First Amendment?

Even though the Treasury in Paulson’s “Sunday Smashdown” acquired warrants for 80% of the Fannie and Freddie common stock, leaving the balance worth ‘bubkis,” don’t those remaining ownership interests have any first amendment rights? Who at the companies can speak to Congress on their behalf?

Since the companies can’t/won’t speak for them, maybe those “orphaned owners” should get their own voice(s) and make sure that Congress hear their side of the Smashdown’s impact, especially if some in Congress feel they were misled by Mr. Paulson about what he planned to do and when. Who knows, those GSE owners might want to offer Congress some advice on “fixing” the Paulson plan.

Dress for Succes….er, Mediocrity

Nobody ever will put “Humpty (Fannie) and Dumpty (Freddie)” back together again, but there has to be a way to make them more than “HUD North” and “HUD West,” which seems to be the current planning. (“OK, all of you former private sector employees, new to federal agency work, we want the guys to start wearing short sleeve shirts, of regulation synthetic material, with pen protectors in the pockets. Also, get bad haircuts. Ladies, dress accordingly and please wear hairnets, so your flowing locks don’t become caught in the moving parts of government. Um, sir, you don’t need to wear the hairnet.”)

Congress. Don’t Call the GSEs, Call FHFA

Those congressional staffers who asked to meet with Mr. Allison and Mr. Moffett, the new bosses at Fannie and Freddie respectively, should know that the meeting times they wanted were scotched by FHFA officials because the desired meeting time conflicted with Mr. Lockhart’s schedule, even though the latter wasn’t invited by the Hill staffies to the meeting.

FHFA has imposed a “no lobbying” rule on the GSEs and the entire outside political consultant contracts have been ended, but every federal agency has a “congressional liaison office and congressional liaison officials. (I know. I was one, twice!)

I expect that when the dust settles someone at Fannie and Freddie will be tasked with answering the phone calls from the Hill or handling information requests.

Some Advice for the "New President"

--I hope AIG’s problems and the Fed’s historic Heimlich maneuver on that company eventually leads to federal regulation of the insurance industry. Even elements in the insurance business, long used to lax/easy state regulation, have been open to that significant change, so why shouldn’t that be one of your early initiatives in your “First 100 Days.” Make sure title insurance is in that shift, too, and you can save every mortgagor between $1500 and $2000 in unnecessary title search charges, although one prominent US Senator might balk at this much needed reform.

--Save the hoary “Financial Commission” idea for his next Rotarian Club speech. Time Magazine has a list of things the next President should consider and Joe Stiglitz just published a list of six financial services ideas for the next President. Use either list, if you have no good ideas of your own.

--Quit screwing around and just make the Federal Reserve the sole federal financial regulator, since all of the others defer to the Fed, anyway (or secretly ask its advice before acting).

--There are group of progressives (Democrats!) now at work on plans to restructure HUD and turn it into something more effective. Any substantive change will achieve that much, since you can’t do much worse. Use their plan. Mr. President.

Financial Adviser Suse Orman on Larry King

King: Sen. McCain is saying this involves fraud -- or let me use another word similar to fraud -- on Wall Street. Do you agree?
Orman: It starts way back when there was nobody overseeing and regulating. Nothing. It's how many times have I said on this program, what were they all thinking? Why were they lending money to people who shouldn't have been borrowing money? Why were they packaging these things? What about the rating agencies? Why weren't the rating agencies rating everything the way they should have been and now they're making matters worse? So whether it's fraud or not, was there deceit going on? I don't know if it was deceit as much as just total irresponsibility is what caused this.
(I added this bon mot for my friend at the Fed, who told me I was being easy on the GSEs, when I blamed the Bush regulators, including the Fed, for ignoring subprime until it was too late. The exchange above suggests that lots of smart people know this big problem started with subprime, not Fannie and Freddie, and know which Washington officials ignored that poisonous lending and allowed it to fester.)

Excerpts From the Famous “I am Confused” Email

*Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

* Attend five different small colleges before graduating,
you're well grounded.

* If you spend three years as a brilliant community
organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard
Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers
150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law
professor, spend eight years as a State Senator
representing a district with over 750,000 people, become
chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services
committee, spend four years in the United States Senate
representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring
131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment
and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you
don't have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl, four years
on the city council and six years as the mayor of a town
with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a
state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to
become the country's second highest ranking executive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years
while raising two beautiful daughters, all within Protestant
churches, you're not a real Christian.

* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress,
and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the
next month, you're a Christian.

(Some this stuff is just too dead on and truthful not to share.)

Maloni 9-18-2009

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Hey, Pogo to Your Left!"

A just started war of words might eclipse, in significance, a contentious post World War II debate, which once rocked foreign policy circles, partisan politics, academia, and the media. "Who lost China?” was the trigger question after Mao led his nation towards Communism eschewing western democratic government models.

That belligerent query was tossed around with great smugness and vitriol, especially during our own McCarthy era, when “Reds’ and “Pinko sympathizers” were sought under every bed and in every closet.

My friend, the wise Mr. Z, believes that a new version of the old China blame game has started, but this time with the GSEs being part of the question as the GOP initiates a campaign to blame Democrats for ignoring GSE shortcomings, either as part of the McCain presidential exercise or looking ahead toward shaping George W. Bush’s presidential legacy.

Sunday GSE Smashdown

“Z,” who virtually predicted the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s “Sunday Smashdown,” when he warned about Paulson’s last minute request for GSE takeover authority and analogized it to the hastily passed “Gulf of Tonkin” resolution, which the Johnson Administration then used to declare war formally against the North Vietnamese and their Chinese and Russian allies.

Mr. Z is convinced that the GOP is trying to use confusion surrounding the GSEs to “swift boat" the Democrats.

An excellent example of this was last Friday’s Washington Post, whose editorial tendencies fast are making it “Rupert Murdoch South.” (Maybe it’s an infusion of too many former WSJ staffers who are turning Kay Graham’s paper into an extension of the Heritage Foundation.)

On that day last week, the Post carried, “Where Was Chris Dodd?,” an op-ed piece by two former Bush White House staffers, Al Hubbard, who headed President Bush Council of Economic Advisors from 2005 until 2007, and Noam Neusner, who was a Bush speechwriter from 2002 through 2005.

Hubbard and Neusner chastised Sen. Dodd (D-Ct.), claiming the Senate Banking Chairman long had ignored Bush Administration GSE concerns and managed to lay blame on other congressional Democrats, too.

Dodd and New York’s Chuck Schumer head their list, but for good measure they throw in Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who the last time I checked were never on the Senate Banking Committee. They go after House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and, surprise, surprise; they extol the virtues of GOP Senators Dick Shelby (Ala.), John Sununu (NH.), Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and Elizabeth Dole (NC).

Let’s Blame, uh…Them!

But a closer look will show that “fire, ready, aim” doesn’t work for them in this case. Messrs. Hubbard and Neusner--ignoring the facts that are as plain and searing as today’s headlines--are hoping to deflect true responsibility from their former boss, George W. Bush and his GOP financial regulatory appointees, not only from the GSE woes but the broader real estate driven economic miasma.

Now what is the crux of today's significant real estate problem and the real distortion in Hubbard-Neusner column?

It is simple. They identify the wrong problem and wrong culprits, Fannie and Freddie and the Democrats in Congress. They claim they saw a tree, but missed the forest.

It Wasn’t the GSEs

It wasn't Fannie's and Freddie's structure, market role, or business activities which caused the real estate woes that have wracked our economy. It wasn’t their affordable housing mission. It wasn’t that they invested 55% of their annual business in mortgage loans for low, moderate, and middle income families. It wasn’t their lobbying teams or their corporate compensation.

Hubbard and Neusner couldn’t have been very good at their jobs (kind of goes with being a Bush appointee), because their column totally ignores the real problem, i.e., the creation of hundreds of billions of dollars in subprime mortgages and mortgage backed securities, originated utilizing a cadre of mortgage brokers and sold by a group of Wall Street firms.

The broker originated subprime loans bypassed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which had dealt only in “prime mortgages,” ergo the name “subprime,” and were sent directly to the investment banking firms for their “private label” (once again, meaning non-Fannie or Freddie) payment guarantee.

When those loans began failing with unprecedented velocity, it was this multitude of garbage, brought to the nation by the financial engineers in New York and sold by the same all over the world, which gave birth to the failures and setbacks that have caused untold economic destruction in our nation and internationally.


Look at the destructive subprime root cause of our residential real estate problems and you’ll find GOP fingerprints, handprints, and DNA all over it, both on the regulatory side—through lassitude--and the private sector operationally.

Forget, “Who lost China?” Who invited the subprime mortgage poison into our mortgage finance system and let it seep through hundreds of financial institutions and sicken our entire economy?

Unfettered subprime lending is barely five years old. And it has been responsible for huge financial losses at every major and small bank, the failures of Bear Stearns, Lehman, AIG, Merrill Lynch, and half a hundred smaller banks, the takeovers at Fannie and Freddie (although those had a huge political element to them) and much more.

The resulting losses to American families in net worth, lost jobs, and declining home values, is nearly incalculable. (Please remember that when you vote in November!)

With Apologies to Matt Damon…

OK, blame game, huh? Here, chew on these apples!

Where the hell was Bush Treasury when the subprime rot was beginning to fester? Where was the Bush SEC when it was congealing? Where were Hubbard and the Bush Council of Economic Advisors when subprime was “all the rage?” Where were the Bush Fed appointees when this poison was being created and disseminated throughout the banking system? Where was President Bush? Where was Alan Greenspan, whose vision seemed to fail him when he ran the Fed, only to return to 20-20 standards after his departure?

Nobody really thinks Fannie and Freddie brought on this subprime mess and the resulting calamity. The cancerous systemic risk came from those institutions that were darlings of the Bush Treasury, SEC, Fed, and White House, and by those same Bush regulatory officials who ignored the growth and development of the threat because their historic business buddies were making money hand over fist!

Walt Kelley’s Revenge

If the Bush Administration had been doing even the least bit of oversight of the financial markets, the Wall Street investment banking firms seeking to fill ravenous hedge fund demands for "high yielding investment," the investment houses never could have started this ball rolling and our national economy never would have experienced the seismic problems and losses it has endured over the past two years.

So Messrs Hubbard and Neusner, save us from your spin on what “signals” Chris Dodd or Barney Frank may have missed and your phony concern over what Taxpayers could lose on the trumped up “GSE takeover.” (More about all that in my next blog.)

Crappy mortgage loans produced outside the GSE process in a subverting manner and no Washington oversight from the GOP financial regulatory arms was and is 95%+ of the problem!

If the Republicans, including George W. Bush, John McCain, and Sarah Palin, and their amen choruses want to point fingers over this incredible housing disaster and resulting economic blood letting, at least they should point them in the “right” direction (pun intended).

When the GOP finally summons the honesty about this matter, they will discover what Pogo found out. “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Maloni 9-15-2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Could You Moose My Bald Head?"

What do most big game hunters look for? Big game!

How big is a moose? It’s pretty big, the largest mammal in North America (except for Bigfoot).

What happens when you field dress a moose? It gets smaller.

What was the newest element added to the GSE political world last week? Sarah Palin, the moose hunter and field dresser.

What out there is bigger than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Not much (except Bigfoot).

Now what happened to Fannie Mae in the past two days? They got hunted, killed, and field dressed, i.e. likely made much smaller.

Ergo, what happened to Fannie and Freddie is all Sarah Palin's fault!!

(Don’t worry class, I have more Sarah Palin and John McCain observations, which will frequent coming blogs. However, let me just offer one. As Jon Stewart of the Daily Show opined, “I am happy that the Governor’s daughter made her “choice”—words in Palin family press release—to get married and have her baby. But based on Governor Palin’s beliefs and statements, if she became Vice President Palin, she would deny that same choice to other 17 year old mothers to be.")

Quit Now?

I should stop while I am ahead, if I have successfully convinced my blog fans that I solved the biggest question of the past two days, “Why whack Fannie and Freddie now?

Indeed, why now?

I mean everything going on at the two companies has been known or should have been, with the 24-7 equivalent OFHEO/FHFA presence in both companies.

Excuse me, since our government and this Administration does occasionally lie, I do not believe that Morgan Stanley—making its $95,000—suddenly discovered something that OFHEO/FHFA, the Fed and Treasury hasn’t known for weeks, if not months?

And, if they didn’t know what Morgan found, shame on the Treasury, FIFA, and the Fed because both companies, as most Americas media reported, have made public the presence of tax credits on their books, the amount of their loan loss reserves, the quality of their assets, their loss projections, etc.

Premeditation and Planning?

So why now? When did the scheming start for this well coordinated plan, comprehensively and devastating implemented against two privately owned companies?

It just doesn’t feel like this reflects the almost last minute (caused by a Lehman Brothers specious review of the GSEs capital accounts, which caused huge short selling in the companies) Paulson legislative request to provide some incidental new Treasury powers, if really bad things happened to the GSEs.

If you’re Fannie Mae, why wouldn’t you fight like hell against a takeover, especially since you have capital to withstand coming losses and recently raised more? They seemed to cave fairly easily.

Ok, OK, how about the “wild hair” suggestion that Secretary Paulson could have postulated some variation of the following to the GSEs: “If the CEOs of both companies do not oppose the “takeover” and the boards behave according, I'll let the former walk with their contractual severance packages and I will grant their boards legal ‘immunity,’ since the latter being expressly permitted under the new statute?”

Nah, that couldn’t be the answer could it? That’s just a “Fig Newton” of my imagination!

The Takeover Deal

While breathtaking in scope and still minus some crucial details, especially on the companies' “housing mission,” the deal should quiet the shaky real estate markets and give Fannie and Freddie some time to use the lending latitude their new government partners/overseers say the companies now have, as well as provide time for the mortgage market to accommodate to the new reality of Fannie and Freddie being under government control.

Between now and the end of 2009, the companies can grow their portfolios and prepare for the end of 2010 when the government wants them to shrink their portfolios. (Don’t ask!)

However, they still have been put under a group of government employees, who are not used to working on market time but on “government time.” Let’s just hope that approvals from “downtown” are not needed several times an hour before either company can buy or sell mortgages or raise money.

Don’t worry, the Congress is on the hook to decide—sometime in 2009, which I doubt will happen--if this current experiment should become the future GSE model or something else should replace it, including the "McCain-Palin bust them into a million pieces plan " and let the banks takeover the complete mortgage finance system.

I don’t know who the next President will be, but I feel confident that there will be more Democrats in both chambers, as well as more minorities. Those new Democrats --for whom the GSEs homeownership function may be viewed as crucial to their constituents—certainly would challenge the McCain-Palin plans (no matter what they are) and an even Obama—Biden proposal that didn’t give the companies sufficient latitude to carry out their missions.

As noted the “takeover” represents an agreement between the Secretary of Treasury and the companies.

An Obama named Treasury Secretary could change some/many of those conditions; replace the men named as CEOs of Fannie and Freddie, and remind Jim Lockhart that he serves at “the pleasure of this President,” who doesn’t want the door to hit him on his way out of FHFA.

Letter Today to the Washington Post

Since the Post never publishes the letters I send to them, re their editorials, I thought I would share what I sent them this morning.

"Our sense is that the complex, risky business of securitizing mortgage debt should be left to the private sector, under appropriately tight government regulation."

I really can't believe that the Post, today, editorialized the above and endorses it.

The last time this Post-preferred mortgage financing execution was in vogue, the "private sector," utilized a mechanism of mortgage brokers originating home loans on behalf of Wall Street and sending them directly to those investment banking firms, which turned them into "private label" securities (meaning non Fannie/Freddie securities). This lovely arrangement produced the "monstrous subprime poison," when most of these garbage loans defaulted, after utilizing teaser rates and faulty underwriting.

The nation is paying a gaudy price for what you now say is your desired way to securitize mortgage loans.

Your editorials on the GSEs have turned you into the "Wall Street Journal South" and advocacy like the above makes it obvious. GSE "securitization," which you seem to oppose, is what the Treasury and the GSE regulator seems to want the companies to do under the new "takeover" structure..

As to Fannie and Freddie having "failed to hold interest rates down," which you incorrectly describe as their ostensible function, the companies primary purpose in statute is to provide "liquidity" to the residential mortgage markets, meaning plenty of capital working through primary lenders, which Fannie and Freddie performed dutifully, since earlier this year nearly 80% of all US loans were being funded by the two companies, according to data put out by the GSEs new government owners.

At Least They Made Up My Bald Pate!

Yesterday morning, I was asked to do an interview with Liz Claiman on Fox Business News, in the 3 o’clock hour, to discuss the political and business implications of the “takeover.”

I presented myself at the appropriate hour, was ushered into “make-up,” where I dusted and the sheen taken off my shaved head. They put a little around the eyes to dull the circles and I was set. I was ushered into the studio, put opposite the TV broadcasting the show in New York, hooked up with a wire in my ear and a microphone on my lapel, and told to stare into the camera.

I did all of those things, heard myself being introduced and was asked a question by Ms. Claiman about the provision in the Treasury “deal”—noted in the FHFA statement—that the companies no longer would be permitted to lobby. I answered that and turned it into a broader discussion of the initiative, which I felt was systemically positive.

I heard someone in my ear say “We have to cutaway” and I think “Liz” thanked me and that was that. The DC producer apologized for the shortness of the interview and when I got home, I received a call form the NYC producer saying the same thing. We talked some more about the “no lobbying” issue and then I checked in with one of my sons, whom I had asked to watch the broadcast.”

“Dad, you weren’t on.”

Apparently, I was interviewed but the segment never made it on the air—or maybe only in the Johnstown, Pennsylvania and Muddy Trap, Texas markets, since nobody I know saw it or called to say they saw me.

But, in the car sent to pick me up and deliver me home, the flavored life savers were good and the water refreshing. And, I learned how to make-up my bald head.

Maloni 9-9-2008