What Geithner is doing right now is similar to how a magician works. First he gets your attention on one thing "look, outrageous bonuses at AIG", then he does his trick while you're watching what he wants you to watch.
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The much-reviled US tax code contains within it thousands of treatments and exclusions that enable subclasses of people to enjoy deductions, credits or even exclusions from paying taxes.
There are few topics more fit for bailout-inspired vitriol than the sports marketing and sponsorship deals bargained by financial services firms and automakers surviving due to taxpayer largess.
With so much confusion in the financial marketplace, one thing is apparent: the American people deserve to know what government-supported banks are doing and how our tax dollars are being used.
If not for the taxpayer, AIG would be bankrupt, and the folks holding those contracts would be standing at the end of the creditor line.
Where are these AIG contracts, anyway? They should be put in the public domain so every lawyer in America can give an opinion about their meaning and validity.
What would it take to change a whole subculture that has escaped all ethical boundaries?
The ongoing AIG mess provides us with an interesting sidelight today -- the use of an excuse that is no longer acceptable in the unwired global universe in which we now live.
The sums of money going to bail out the financial industry dwarf the waste and pork that get John McCain and other budget hawks excited. Yet they are strangely calm about the bailout money.
Americans will justifiably ask who got us into this mess. The answer, in part, is the same man who has yet to come up with a coherent plan to get us out of it:
If the people on Wall Street knew that no one would ever be there to bail them out, ever again, they would be less inclined to gamble with instruments they don't really understand.
Public morality falls to a new low-level when outrageous acts are revealed but rather than being soon corrected -- they are excused.
The bonuses may seem greedy, but look what quality stuff they're producing!
Today the task is to stop a grotesque abuse before it is too late. The path we outline here would do it, without throwing markets into turmoil.
The Republicans were going to grab onto the populist anti-bank feelings in the country to position themselves as the party of the people, with the Democrats being cast as the party of the bankers.
Greed was never good. Normal people know that, but it has been completely lost on the Wall Street crowd and the American economic elite.
The outrage over the AIG bonuses is a sideshow. The larger problem, both financially and politically, is the entire strategy for rescuing the banks. Obama needs to get a second opinion.
When our very own Secretary of the Treasury cannot make stick his decision that AIG's bonuses should not be paid, only one conclusion can be drawn: AIG is accountable to no one.
Ever since AIG entered the public consciousness in a very negative way last fall, people have been wondering what the initials stand for.
Larry Summers claims that nothing can be done about the AIG bonuses. As a former Secretary of the Treasury, he should know better.
Rick Santelli's self-righteous outburst directed at down-on-their-luck foreclosed home buyers amounts to what the late sociologist William Ryan termed "blaming the victim."
In the four-minute tape, a man believed to be the chairman of AIG says that if his organization is not paid its ransom, "chaos and destruction will rain down on the American economy."
Our politicians make a big display of yelling at the CEOs and then the very next day they quietly remove any cap on their compensation. These people are not on our side.
The announcement that Trader Monthly magazine was ceasing publication was one of those moments when a chance arrow of history scores a perfect bull's eye on a deserving target.
There has been a long and irreversible trend toward small, entrepreneurial businesses, located far from money centers. Instead, Washington keeps throwing money at these "too big to fail" money losers.
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