Monday, December 14, 2009

Pardon me if this is obvious...

Those of you who already got this, tune back in tomorrow. For the rest of you:

It was announced today that both Wells Fargo and Citicorp were going to pay back TARP, joining Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. Think that it's great that these banks are so healthy that they can pay back the money? Uh huh. If that's what you think it is, I've got some land in Florida for sale(right by JT Smith, who wanted to be mentioned in this post).

So now these banks don't have to listen to the government on pay. That's the real reason they've forked over the cash. It's not that I blame them, mind you. The government has no business setting pay for the private sector. Yeah, I understand that the banks got government bailout money, and for that they need to be accountable to the government. But 'the government' didn't (doesn't) have a clue about what people should be paid for ANY job, let alone top positions in banking. Remember, these are the folks who pay clerks 20% above the going rate in the private sector and yet make sure that folks in the military are still able to qualify for food stamps.

The big problem with all this is that if the banking sector were truly healthy, they'd be starting to loan on their own. And yet their fists are closed tight, hanging on to almost all the capital that wasn't needed to get the government to butt out. Obama's meeting today with bankers at the White House where he sternly scolded them about their 'responsibility' to the American public to lend since the public had bailed the banks out? BOGUS.

See, this is how it works if you're a bank: you loan your excess capital to the creditworthy and turn down those who don't qualify. That means that 1) you have to have excess capital, and 2) you have to find someone creditworthy to loan said capital. I don't care how cranky the government folks get, it's a bunch of blowhard posturing that messes with capitalism as we know it. And guess what - if you give people money who can't pay it back, you just create bigger problems... but hopefully not until after the next election.

Color me cynical.

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