Warren Buffett, that "Oracle of Omaha," who at the height of the financial crisis, having invested billions in Goldman bonds, instructed us through every microphone or camera he could find that we should understand that all those wonderful "Abacus" deals cobbled together by Goldman Sachs costing their client-investors into the billions (financial packages that Senator Levin (D-Michigan) termed as "sh*t" during Congressional hearings) was just business as usual, that the responsibility for deceit lay with the buyer in Mr.Buffett's perverse notion of 'caveat emptor.' To Mr. Buffett, issues of trust and accountability were secondary to this new world of finance (please see "Mr. Buffett's New York Times OP-ED. Thank You We Feel Better Now" 11.17.10)
Mr. Buffett has now given us his latest pearl of wisdom. During an interview with Charlie Rose on Monday night, he proffered Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase's CEO, as his suggested successor to Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury. Given the way Wall Street has run Washington, and certainly not to Mr. Buffett's cost, this would be a natural extension of the old boys network solidifying business as usual during President Obama's second term with a Treasury Department deeply entrenched to Wall Street. Selecting Jamie Dimon would be a gift to the powerful investment bank constituency plying their trade already in the all too comfortable niche of 'too big to fail.' Ever quick to place at risk their depositors' money while having easy access to cheap and virtually limitless borrowing at the Fed Window, permitting them to engage highly speculative proprietary trading while emasculating the Dodd-Frank Bill meant to rein in their excesses. Policies that brought us to the brink of financial ruin. It would be a gruesome revisit to déjà vu all over again. (please see "Jamie Dimon's Malign Influence On The Culture Of American Banking" 07.13.12).
Mr. Dimon's propensity for speculative and proprietary trading was spotlighted through JPMorgan Chase buying up new trading platforms such as acquiring the Royal Bank of Scotland's RBS Sempra trading division, becoming the largest shareholder of the London Metal's Exchange, placing billion dollar bets on copper and other metals, boosting their trading work force from 125 in 2006 to some 1800 in 2010,or chartering VLCC tankers of 200,000 Dead Weight Tons (DWT), filling them with millions of barrels of crude oil or oil products such as heating oil, and keeping them anchored at sea for months at a time to play the oil market, not to speak of the ongoing 'London Whale' imbroglio ('financial transaction' to some, 'speculation' to others).
Mr. Dimon's vision for speculative banking didn't end with aggressive proprietary trading. Under his suzerainty at JPMorgan Chase, the Bank became ruthless foreclosure enforcers to the point of being in breach of the law, whereby members of our military on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan were being dispossessed of their homes in contravention of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, while 4,500 servicemen were being overcharged on their mortgages and/or threatened with foreclosure. (please see "Its All About The Money: Jamie Dimon's Big Pay Hike And The Home Foreclosures Of Our Servicemen" 02.19.11).
Concurrent to Mr. Buffett's musings, there has been a plethora of commentary about the possible appointment of a woman as our next Secretary of the Treasury, including Huffington Post's "With Geithner's Replacement The Treasury May Get A Woman's Touch" 11.25.12.
Its opening line:
"Washington- The best way to make sure the next Secretary of the Treasure is not overly beholden to Wall Street might be to hire a woman."
Among those mentioned as potential candidates are Janet Yellin, Lael Brainard, Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Sheila Bair, Sheryl Sandberg, Carmen Reinhart and Christina Romer.
Certainly there is a crying need to divorce the Treasury Department from the financial industry's influence. Among all of the potential candidates, both man and woman, there is one person that stands out who, incidentally, happens to be a woman, hardly a defining qualification, where competence and experience are paramount. That person is the one person in government who together with now Senator-Elect Elizabeth Warren during President Obama's first term, stood steadfast with Main Street against the full power and might of Wall Street and the Financial Industry. She is the then Chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Sheila Bair.
We are barreling toward a destabilizing schism in our society where one interest group, the finance world and its allies, are running the nation to their own economic benefit, oblivious of the pain endured by their fellow citizens on the Main Streets of our towns, and the neighborhoods and tenements of our cities. Bair was the one person who fought tooth and nail against the clubhouse fraternity that had taken over the fiscal soul of the nation (please see "America Needs a President Who Will Confront the Financial Industry's Hegemony Over Our Lives", 07.14.11) She was unflinching in defending the interests' of the nation's citizens. She was steadfast in holding that shareholders and debt holders should take losses ahead of taxpayers and depositors. She was a stalwart fighter for mortgage modifications that would have helped homeowners. "Our job is to protect bank customers, not banks" was her mantra.
We probably don't agree on a lot of the fiscal issues, but on financial reform we do. Most importantly I think she's the person who is going to be independent and do what is in the interest of the state of Massachusetts. And we need more independent thinkers like that in Washington, people who will be against special interest.
Here was Sheila Bair talking earlier this month about Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts' newly elected senator -- words that could imposingly and purposefully be applied to Sheila Bair as well!
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