I’m doing God’s work.
– Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein in a November 2009 interview
It’s war. It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.
– Steve Schwarzman, Chairman and co-founder of Blackstone, on potential tax changes in 2010
The uproar over bonuses was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that–sort of like what we did in the Deep South. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.
– AIG CEO Robert Benmosche in a Wall Street Journal Interview this past weekend
As if you needed any more evidence of how disconnected, entitled, irrational and sociopathic the heads of financial firms in America are these days, along comes AIG’s CEO Robert Benmosche to dispel any lingering doubts. In a highly disturbing interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Benmosche compares the murder of black people in the deep south based on racial prejudice and hate to the vast majority of Americans expressing disgust with the fact that Wall Street decided to suspend capitalism when it was in their best interests in order to give themselves trillions of dollars.
He actually compares an environment where the rule of law was often completely suspended to allow the murder of a disenfranchised racial group, to widespread public anger about the suspension of the rule of law to benefit the wealthiest, most connected people in the nation.
The craziest part of his statement is that if anything, the bailout of financial oligarchs to the severe detriment of the rule of law, free markets and the best interests of the vast majority of the American public is actually what is most similar to lynchings in the south. In both cases, the rule of law was suspended to benefit the powerful over the weak. This man is a dangerous sociopath, and he is precisely the type of person you get in charge when you bail out institutions that should have died.
More from the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Benmosche on the government’s campaign against partial “bonuses” to be paid to hundreds of employees in the AIG financial-products unit as they unwound massive, ill-fated bets on mortgage bonds. He said “less than 10” employees were behind the bad trades.
“That was ignorance … of the public at large, the government and other constituencies. I’ll tell you why. [Critics referred] to bonuses as above and beyond [basic compensation]. In financial markets that’s not the case. … It is core compensation.
Core compensation would have been reset in the financial industry down to more reasonable levels had there not been bailouts. That’s capitalism you crony jackass.
“Now you have these bright young people [in the financial-products unit] who had nothing to do with [the bad bets that hurt the company.] … They understand the derivatives very well; they understand the complexity. … They’re all scared. They [had made] good livings. They probably lived beyond their means. …They aren’t going to stay there for nothing.
So let them go. Again, isn’t that capitalism? What about all of the people that lost their jobs and are on food stamps now because of those “10 people” at AIG? Moreover, how many of those 10 are in prison?
The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that–sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.
“We wouldn’t be here today had they not stayed and accepted … dramatically reduced pay. … They really contributed an enormous amount [to AIG’s survival] and proved to the world they are good people. It is a shame we put them through that.”
Poor babies, they had to suffer from public anger while collecting huge paychecks.
“We’re trying to find the villains [for the financial crisis]. There’s got to be a villain somewhere. The problem is that there isn’t a villain. There are villains. And they are everybody. They are the speculators in real estate. The people who flipped houses. People who lied and cheated [on mortgage applications]. Nobody did the income appraisals. … I include myself in there. I knew stuff was wrong” in the mortgage-underwriting system years before the real-estate bubble burst.
First he says there are no villains. Then he says everyone is a villain. Then he describes a small minority of the population, house flippers as villains, who by the way weren’t bailed out like Wall Street was. Plenty of people lost their homes. Bankers got record bonuses the next year. The denial and lack of perspective from these folks is mind-boggling.
Full interview here.
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