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Taibbi writes: "I hope everyone saw ex-Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chief Sheila Bair's editorial in the Washington Post, entitled, 'Fix Income Inequality with $10 million Loans for Everyone!'"

Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Matt Taibbi at Skylight Studio in New York, 10/27/10. (photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Free $10 Million Loans for All!

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

21 April 12


ave been on deadline this week, but wanted to post a few interesting links:

• I hope everyone saw ex-Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chief Sheila Bair's editorial in the Washington Post, entitled, "Fix Income Inequality with $10 million Loans for Everyone!" The piece might have set a world record for public bitter sarcasm by a former top regulatory official.

In it, Bair points out that since we've been giving zero-interest loans to all of the big banks, why don't we do the same thing for actual people, to solve the income inequality program? If the Fed handed out $10 million to every person, and then got each of those people to invest, say, in foreign debt, we could all be back on our feet in no time:

Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest. The more conservative among us can take that money and buy 10-year Treasury bonds. At the current 2 percent annual interest rate, we can pocket a nice $200,000 a year to live on. The more adventuresome can buy 10-year Greek debt at 21 percent, for an annual income of $2.1 million. Or if Greece is a little too risky for you, go with Portugal, at about 12 percent, or $1.2 million dollars a year. (No sense in getting greedy.)

Every time I watch a Republican debate, and hear these supposedly anti-welfare crowds booing the idea of stiffer regulation of Wall Street, I wonder how many audience members know that Bair's plan is more or less exactly the revenue model for all of America's biggest banks. You go to the Fed, get a buttload of free money, lend it out at interest (perversely enough, including loans right back to the U.S. government), then pocket the profit.

Considering that we now know that the Fed gave out something like $16 trillion in secret emergency loans to big banks on top of the bailouts we actually knew about, you might ask yourself: How are these guys in financial trouble? How can they not be making mountains of money, risk-free? But they are in financial trouble:

• We're about to see yet another big blow to all of the usual suspects - Goldman, Citi, Bank of America, and especially Morgan Stanley, all of whom face potential downgrades by Moody's in the near future.

We've known this was coming for some time, but the news this week is that the giant money-managing firm BlackRock is talking about moving its business elsewhere. Laurence Fink, BlackRock's CEO, told the New York Times: "If Moody's does indeed downgrade these institutions, we may have a need to move some business around to higher-rated institutions."

It's one thing when Zero Hedge, William Black, myself, or some rogue Fed officers in Dallas decide to point fingers at the big banks. But when big money players stop trading with those firms, that's when the death spirals begin.

Morgan Stanley in particular should be sweating. They're apparently going to be downgraded three notches, where they'll be joining Citi and Bank of America at a level just above junk. But no worries: Bank CFO Ruth Porat announced that a three-level downgrade was "manageable" and that only losers rely totally on agencies like Moody's to judge creditworthiness. "A lot of clients are doing their own credit work," she said.

• Meanwhile, Bank of America reported its first-quarter results yesterday. Despite that massive ongoing support from the Fed, it earned just $653 million in the first quarter, but astonishingly the results were hailed by most of the financial media as good news. Its home-turf paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, crowed that BOA "Posts Higher Profits As Trading Results Rebound." Bloomberg, meanwhile, summed up results this way: "Bank of America Beats Analyst Estimates As Trading Jumps."

But the New York Times noted that BOA's first-quarter profit of $653 million was down from $2 billion a year ago, and paled compared to results of more successful banks like Chase and Wells Fargo.

Zero Hedge, meanwhile, posted an amusing commentary on BOA's results, pointing out that the bank quietly reclassified nearly two billion dollars' worth of real estate loans. This is from BOA's report:

During 1Q12, the bank regulatory agencies jointly issued interagency supervisory guidance on nonaccrual policies for junior-lien consumer real estate loans. In accordance with this new guidance, beginning in 1Q12, we classify junior-lien home equity loans as nonperforming when the first-lien loan becomes 90 days past due even if the junior-lien loan is performing. As a result of this change, we reclassified $1.85B of performing home equity loans to nonperforming.

In other words, Bank of America described nearly two billion dollars of crap on their books as performing loans, until the government this year forced them to admit it was crap.

ZH and others also noted that BOA wildly underestimated its exposure to litigation, but that's nothing new. Anyway, despite the inconsistencies in its report, and despite the fact that it's about to be downgraded - again - Bank of America's shares are up again, pushing $9 today.

• Speaking of BOA, you can help the bank improve its website.... your social media marketing partner


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+46 # charsjcca 2012-04-21 09:38
Voo doo economics does dominate the American political landscape. Who said that?
+51 # jlohman 2012-04-21 10:10
Moody's??? Who in the hell needs Moody? If it weren't for our corrupt politicians doing what is wrong, they'd do what is right! Only public funding of campaigns will fix it, and only a 100% turnover in November will get us there.
+7 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:29
ropublicans see no wrongs with republicans and see all wrongs with Democrats. There's the problem, banks & foxlike press own Republicans.
+36 # jooberdoober 2012-04-21 10:13
Count me in. How much Did The CEO of BOA make last year?
+29 # Kasandra 2012-04-21 10:26
Let's expand this declaration a bit more and say, "Ten Million Dollars GIFTS for all productive and deserving citizens! Wow, what a world this would be!
+1 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:30
don't be greedy take the $10mn FOC loan ~ don't ask it be gift, banks are supposed to repay eventually?
+45 # Martintfre 2012-04-21 10:28
//Every time I watch a Republican debate, and hear these supposedly anti-welfare crowds booing the idea of stiffer regulation of Wall Street, I wonder how many audience members know that Bair's plan is more or less exactly the revenue model for all of America's biggest banks.//

That is because the republican rank and file know it is wrong - the dems do not either in rank and file or in CONgress so they join in the bail out crying crokidile tears that they had too ... see who contributes to them and see who is bought.

New campaign finance law; If you or your business or your company is a direct recipient of tax payers monies such as grants or loans you can not contribute a dime to any politician or any political organization
+1 # Stephanie Remington 2012-04-21 15:52
Quoting Martintfre:

That is because the republican rank and file know it is wrong

Martinfre: Can you please clarify what you mean by "it." Taibbi was referring to regulation. Are you saying that Republican rank and file "know [regulation] is wrong."?
0 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:36
Probably if made by others.
0 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:35
Sorry you are wrong there, Republican rank & file or VIP no difference, they "do not know what is wrong" if it was said by their people, only everything Democrats rank & file or VIP say is what's wrong?
+45 # walt 2012-04-21 11:20
The Republicans are quick to talk about those supposed citizens among us who get free rides from the government in food stamps, welfare,Social Security, Medicare, etc.

Amazing how they fail to see these banks are the real welfare recipients! I suppose they'd also have us believe that the banks "earned" the money, that their CEO's deserve big bonuses to keep them, and that the are the "job creators."

-6 # Martintfre 2012-04-22 09:05
FYI: the Tea party is among the most vociferous opponents to the bail outs. When McCAin and crew joined the Democrats in the Bail outs that was proof they cared way more about their bankster friends then we the little people.
+17 # The Ice Maiden 2012-04-22 11:40
Sorry, Martinfre, but the bail-outs were negotiated before Obama took office. We are either a country of laws or we are a country that doesn't honor contracts. When those deals were made, Congress (and Obama) had to honor them. Blaiming Obama (or, as you state, the "Democrats") for the bail-outs shows a complete lack of knowledge of the facts. If you want to hold a party responsible for the unconscionable and indefensible bonuses and bail-outs, look to the party that negotiated them: the Republicans under George W Bush. Those people know how to take care of their own.
-2 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:47
Yes he was stuck with appeasing Republican Corp mates, and banks, and War industries. For his first term now watch him dump their games if he gets 2nd term he can act tougher, and let the likes of Clinton worry over 2016 brownie point scores with electors. After all a month is a duration in politics.
+2 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:44
Haven't people understood Republican = Extreme capitalists = any corporation not in the labor or Democrat's camp. Specially the ones who give 3 times more election funds to Republican Campaigns than Democrats get from the lower classes. QED.
+1 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:41
Of course those CEO's you mention deserve the big wage & Bonuses. That is when they pull such preferential treatment from their Repoublican governments, when they pull such as interest free loans from the oyther side, their enemy Democrat Government, they have achieved a directors coupe and deserve evben bigger bonus for that CON. After all their job is to manage well when they exceed logical expectation they earned a bonus, just the tip off the real shareholders profit gain. The more millions they borrow rent free from Treasury, the more profit shareholders reep, so give an a smidgeon as bonus and pray/prey they borrow even more next season. lol
+14 # erogers 2012-04-21 11:22
Don't want no stinkin $10 million. I will not sell out for less then $20 million. Give me the money in cash and I rpomise to pay back the loan on time. Hah!!! Every day this entire country becomes a bit more nutty.
+37 # grouchy 2012-04-21 11:58
I have long wondered what shape we would currently be in if the flow of government "gifts" had gone to us TAXPAYERS rather than these fat cats! Think on that point for a few minutes.
0 # Floridatexan 2012-04-23 14:31
Believe me...I have.
+25 # reiverpacific 2012-04-21 12:19
I'd be happy with a tenth of that or less -but then everybody else would be greedily one-uppin' me and driving prices out of sight for we of the struggling small-business demographic.
Why don't they ("They"?? As in those you elected to allegedly represent you including the Pres') actually govern, take the loans away from the banks, outlaw monopolists and get people back in their homes, break the giants up and use the takings to fund (or guarantee the funds of) local banks and Credit Unions that support and fund community projects.
Greenland has been doing all right since they decided that no bank was "too big to fail" and let them do so.
Oh aye -and fill the prisons with those greedy bastards who caused all the grief since 2007 (and before), replacing the "marijuana felons" and other small-timers AND disband the criminally-corr upt and incompetent credit bureaus, replacing them with state oversight of this function.
Might sound simplistic but so is much considered common-sense!
I'm just fed to the teeth with continually being reminded -and having our faces rubbed in it- how the true criminals keep making hay while the sun of their bought-and paid for lobbyist-funded representatives shines on their Armani-suited shoulders, shiny shoes and wriggling butts!
-6 # Tigre1 2012-04-22 11:07
reiverpacific.. .of COURSE we ALL agree with you about what SHOULD...dude, HOW? HOW? HOW?

Do a little research, make a PLAN, we'll likely ALL grab our pitchforks or whatever and follow you.

But this "They OUGHT"...ain't cutting it.

Don't be a child any more. Grow up, make a plan. You'll have friends...and adherents.
+1 # reiverpacific 2012-04-22 12:24
Quoting Tigre1:
reiverpacific...of COURSE we ALL agree with you about what SHOULD...dude, HOW? HOW? HOW?

Do a little research, make a PLAN, we'll likely ALL grab our pitchforks or whatever and follow you.

But this "They OUGHT"...ain't cutting it.
Don't be a child any more. Grow up, make a plan. You'll have friends...and adherents.

I've posted a plan elsewhere on RSN (after considerable research and meetings with other out of work architects and contractors -and even a couple of Realtors of the more progressive persuasion) and actually written to Obama, Melkley, Wyden and DeFazio -my Oregon politicos about it.
B.T.W., I DO TAKE EXCEPTION to being deemed a "Child" from one who uses "dude". I don't post anything without considerable knowledge or research on any given subject! I've heard so many wild and fantastic scenarios and suggestions on RSN (INCLUDING THIS ARTICLE which has has a "No-starter" tone to it's basic proposition) that it seems a waste of time setting forth a plan in any detail: there's a lot of short attention spans here too.
Since you are looking for a "PLAN" here's my proposal in precîs form. I'll provide a copy of the whole letter on request - no room here but it has nothing to do with large amounts of $ to individuals.
There is an outline in my post here too, starting with "actually govern, take the loans away from the banks, -----!"
I'll have to take a new post space for the rest.
+10 # reiverpacific 2012-04-22 12:51
1. Stop speculators buying up foreclosed and deteriorated properties -or there will be a new generation of slumlords all over the country.
2. Take the unused or overly speculated and held in-house or off-shore bail out money, tax EACH and ALL short term speculative transactions a small fee (Rep' DeFazio already has such a proposal moving through the lobbyist-infect ed corridors of power).
3. Put this a pool and negotiate purchases of neglected and foreclosed properties at the current depression prices or less, in blocs via states who wish to participate and administer such a scheme, administered by state-supervise d community banks and credit Unions.
4. Put renovations of these properties out in bid-packages to Architects, Engineers, Planners, Contractors, Landscapers and other related trades and target the resultant properties for purchase with a certain amount held back for low-income persons or those bankrupted by the destruction of the speculators.
4. Provide sweat-equity grants for individuals who wish to contribute labor and effort to improvements to properties they wish to buy, in lieu of down-payments.
5. Make available purchases at favorable rates to vets who have been lost their homes while serving in the illegal wars now in progress -and take funds from the Pentagon for this.
6. Finance infrastructure, social and small-business incentives linked to the above.
Just a tiny sample but a "plan" -OK?!
+1 # Bluesyinohio 2012-04-22 14:01
Sounds like a reasonable plan to me. I hope everyone else can see its benefits for everyone affected by the Big Bank's/Financie r's greedy finagleing of our economy.
-3 # robbeygay 2012-04-22 19:54
Right you just proved my point that the lobyists and Big Bank Corp executives deserve all the bonuses they shareholders give them, just for having such great success at Conning both Praty's and Governments to give more to their bleeding heart shareholder free loan profit fund. That's their job to make more for their shareholders than other CEO's do for theirs. No interest to USA Banks and 21% interest Greek Banks will pay? Woe! that's easu money for yank banks?
+15 # MrVester 2012-04-21 13:57
I live in Small Town, USA. We have about 5 or 6 banks in town. What I don't understand is why B of A has not one but two armed guards in front of their branch. I've seen bank guards in my lifetime, but usually not patrolling the perimeter staring everyone who comes close like they expect trouble. Oh yes, none of the other banks even have a guard on their premises'. What gives?
+2 # 666 2012-04-22 21:01
It's in case any of those pesky Occupy Small Town USA protesters show up to ask for their country back...
+19 # jwb110 2012-04-21 15:43
The above mentioned firms are going to tank anyway. Why didn't we just let that happen before we let them all this money? They're crooks. They should tank and them be thrown in jail.
-8 # Tigre1 2012-04-22 11:05
"Should"...dude , where's your PLAN? of course they SHOULD...but griping and pie-in-the sky don't solve problems. HOW HOW HOW? I mean, you've set a fine GOAL...How do youpropose?

Oh, I don't think very much or very often. Americans used to think.
That's why they elected Roosevelt four times...
+3 # reiverpacific 2012-04-22 17:20
Quoting Tigre1:
"Should"...dude, where's your PLAN? of course they SHOULD...but griping and pie-in-the sky don't solve problems. HOW HOW HOW? I mean, you've set a fine GOAL...How do youpropose?

Oh, I don't think very much or very often. Americans used to think.
That's why they elected Roosevelt four times...

I give up "dude"!
You must be approaching puberty
by the tone of y'r writing
and the depth of y'r ability to read a simple post.
to Obama, Wyden, Merkely and DeFazio.
They're the ones who get the "DOIN' done for the rest of us -isn't it why you lot elect them?
Once again my full written plan
in email letter form
is available to anybody
who wants to read it
of which the above is a tiny precis.
It appears that you aren't in a position
or of a mentality,
to get through the whole thing
(it requires a bit of "thought") "dude".
So I'll desist.
Some of the other readers appear to get it at least.
For y'r convenience
I'm breaking it down
into smaller phrases
so that you
can read it
I give up in your case
as I feel like I'm
rattlin' an empty
tin can!
The rest is silence -'nuff said.
+7 # fobsub 2012-04-21 18:44
Here's a thought:
Credit all adult US persons with a 2 Mil CD, or whatever, create a corporation of the entire adult US population,, put it onto the stock exchange, advise and encourage each to invest at least part of it (into some of your suggestions)res ponsibly; then let em ride and see how it goes.
Modifications encouraged.
+2 # MrVester 2012-04-21 19:53
I think Jon Stewart started this idea.
0 # fobsub 2012-04-21 21:22
Whenever big corps screw things up so bad that they generally begin to tread water why not flood the public with a couple trillion to bolster the economy? It would indirectly bail out those monsters with the shopping sprees of millions of happy John and Jane public...for a while. At least we'd all have something to show for it and pawn or Ebay later if needed.
0 # Rick Levy 2012-04-21 21:38
How is a welfare recipient and a Bank CEO alike? Neither works for a living.
-4 # lark3650 2012-04-22 08:26
Good one Rick!
-6 # Martintfre 2012-04-22 09:07
Quoting Rick Levy:
How is a welfare recipient and a Bank CEO alike? Neither works for a living.


both use the government to live at some one elses expense.
+4 # Bluesyinohio 2012-04-22 14:08
Anyone on Welfare (people not Corps.) has to struggle from day to day. Not knowing when your next meal is or where you can find a place you can afford to live in is not easy. It is hard work just trying to survive in this world today.
Finding work is almost impossible. Haven't you noticed? Former Middle Class families have lost their jobs and homes, as well as medical benefits. Many have tried to find work and with hundreds and thousands applying for the limited openings it is almost impossible.
I don't know what you do to support yourself and your family R.L. but do NOT compare the Poorest of the Poor w/ the Richest of the Rich. It is in poor taste and quite outrageous.
+13 # The Ice Maiden 2012-04-22 10:29
Every time I read something written by Matt Taibbi, I need time to recover from what he reports. When he simplifies what is really going on in our political arena it is hard not to lose heart. But I am so grateful for people like him who have the guts to call it like it is.

How do the powers-that-be sleep at night? Bonuses of tens of millions of dollars while they head companies that are bankrupt. And WE (the taxpayers) paid those bonuses and WE paid the interest when they loaned us the $$ we had loaned them. I feel sick to my stomach.
+2 # Lawrence 2012-04-22 10:50
It's been long considered that if everyone was given a lump sum, many would drink, gamble, snort, it away, many would blow it on fancy electronics and cars, few would invest it in interest bearing securities or things of enduring value. Those that have been damaged by the behavior of the banksters aside, most people have no sense and will always be taken advantage of by the more cunning.
0 # KDI 2012-04-22 13:44
Voting was never intended to give the people power. It just gives them psychological investment in the system. Not voting doesn't diminish your non-power over the system. What it does is remove your psychological investment in the system. By not voting, you have acknowledged your non-power, and are free to use your life energy elsewhere more effectively. And, it saves you from filtering through the tsunami of extremely slick inane political advertising sewage slag that drowns you when you turn on a television or radio anywhere near an upcoming election.
+4 # Bluesyinohio 2012-04-22 14:21
By not voting you take your voice out of the political equation. Are you trying to convince people not to vote?
I have seen the people's voices in Ohio stop our Repub. Gov. Kasich from hurting our people with some of his Koch inspired legislation he tried to run through the State Legislature. This was just last November.
I signed a petition to put this on the ballot last Spring and in the Fall the People of Ohio told the Rethugs where to go, at least on this issue.
I am happy to have been a part of the process and Proud of my Fellow Citizens who stood up and said "NO".
Voting and being aware of your responsibilitie s as a Citizen of our country is not to be demeaned.
I can ignore the ridiculous ads on TV and Radio, just as I can ignore Billboards and Yard Signs.
Finding out what is important means investigating for yourself and NEVER take someone else's views as your own unless you understand what they are saying.
+1 # hbheinze 2012-04-25 01:19
Proud of what you've done in Ohio--keep up the good (hard) work.
-3 # Mark E. Smith 2012-04-22 13:47
Ever hear of money markets? The reason some people keep their assets in gold and gems is because fiat currency can become worthless overnight (as it certainly would if everyone got $10 mil). But that's not a solution either, as gold and gems are no more edible than dollars, and aren't easily traded for small amounts of bread and eggs.

Legislation isn't a solution either, as it has to be enacted by legislators, and in order to elect a majority who might do that, the votes would have to be counted. Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that if the 1% don't like the way an election turns out, they don't have to count the popular vote, the plutocracy established by the Constitution remains secure and power is not, and never has been, vested in the hands of the people.

Most voters believe, according to a Rasmussen survey, that people chosen at random from the phone book could do a better job than Congress. So why do they continue to vote? Habit? Masochism? Apathy?

The fact is that not even the most radical or reactionary among us could do a worse job of representing our interests than our power-corrupted elected officials. The first step in taking back our power is to stop giving it away. Don't vote. Boycott2012!
0 # 666 2012-04-22 21:03
can you provide a link to that survey please?
+2 # reiverpacific 2012-04-23 09:32
You answered your own query: in citing "Power-corrupte d elected officials."
Lobbyists, bought and paid for elected officials kept there by public apathy, a pathetic and corporate press and an infotainment-ba sed electoral season lasting four years which plays into the hands of the wealthy, are only part of the Plutocratic norm and not voting is taking the brakes off the whole nepotistic cabal of power-drunk bullies.
My take is that if you vote (and you SHOULD -but in an informed way-) it is your responsibility to stay informed in depth so that your vote counts in holding these elected bod's feet to the fire, not by being a once-every-four -year activist for a week or so but by being wholly involved and active!
It would be interesting to see what would happen here if the vote was mandatory, as in Australia.
0 # John Steinsvold 2012-04-22 14:29
An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative".
She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider.
Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?"
which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
~ Albert Einstein
-2 # Capt Couchpotato 2012-04-22 16:07
It must be exasperating for people like Sheila Blair to watch as The USA sails full steam ahead towards it's finacnial ruin. She is not the first sensible person to use the ridiculous to point out the insanity of America's direction.

There is a sense helplessness and despair coming from those who would wish to bring America back from the brink of ruin. In the face of disaster, sometimes only a sense of humor can save us.
0 # dascher 2012-04-22 16:13
Its home-turf paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, crowed that BOA "Posts Higher Profits As Trading Results Rebound."

BofA is headquartered in CHARLOTTE, NC. It lost its SF HQ when it was acquired by NationsBank about 10 years ago.
0 # Marie Burns 2012-04-26 19:07
Actually, Paul Krugman says Bair doesn't know what she's writing about:

"The naive (or deliberately misleading) version of Fed policy is the claim that Ben Bernanke is 'giving money' to the banks. What it actually does, of course, is buy stuff, usually short-term government debt but nowadays sometimes other stuff. It’s not a gift."

I think Krugman understands monetary policy a little better than does Bair. She is not an economist, & assuming Krugman is right, she clearly doesn't understand macroeconomics.

The Constant Weader @

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