Peter Orszag Makes It Rain

Who is Peter Orszag? In a thoroughly reported, super-sized profile of the former White House budget director and newly recruited high-salaried Citibank somethingorother, New York magazine’s Gabe Sherman gives a lot of potential answers to that question. He’s an “ambitious economist” with “a gilded resume,” a “deficit hawk,” who claims he quit his job “upset by Washington’s refusal to get serious about the deficit,” and a symbol of populist animosity who's been “branded a sellout” for taking a big-bucks banking gig. At the White House, he was “one of the most visible faces on Team Obama”—“a rock-star egghead” and “an unlikely hunk” who “[embodied] everything that was cool about the technocratic braininess of Obama’s Washington.”

Those are the answers Sherman gives us. Here’s my answer to the question: He's a pretty-boy pencil pusher whose business, as the top budget braniac in the administration, was to mislead the public about the budget.

But what about now? What exactly is ladies' man Orszag up to at Citibank? Apparently, he’s been given the title of “vice-chairman,” whatever that means. The best clue we have is the role given to Bob Rubin, one of Orszag’s mentors and in some ways the original Washington-to-Wall Street power player. Rubin went to Citibank after working on Bill Clinton’s economic team, and the bank created the job of “Chairman” specifically for him. That gig, apparently, did not involve “managing or trading or doing deals” or any sort of “direct responsibility in running Citi’s sprawling operation.” It did leave plenty of time for Rubin to pursue memoir writing and fly-fishing—which is even more impressive considering the job also paid Rubin $33 million per year and gave him “access to Citi’s fleet of private jets.” Is Orszag’s “vice-chairman” job a junior version of the same thing?

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what Orzag is doing for Citibank. His primarily job duties are intangible. Mostly it seems he's there to cast his sexy geek-boy light on the institution and serve as a conduit to Washington’s power centers.

According to Sherman, Orzag is a trophy hire of sorts, an open line to the hallowed halls of financial regulation at the bottom of the Acela, and an outward sign that the bailed-out Citibank is now on a straight-and-narrow path to rehab and renewed status as a good corporate citizen. Corporate entities can’t exactly check into therapy after crashing at taxpayer expense, but they can connect with their feelings (and perhaps some new friends in the administration) by hiring a White House wiz kid. Who needs clear job responsibilities when you’re Washington’s unofficial Wonk King?

For Citi, hiring a man like Orszag, like Rubin before him, signaled that Citi would be invested in the intellectual marketplace, no mere profiteering bank but a significant American institution. Orszag’s wisdom about markets is certainly valuable; but even more valuable is his role as an impeccable ambassador for the bank, a kind of rainmaker, but at the stratospheric level. Just about anyone will take the call of a former White House budget director.

A “rainmaker” at “the stratospheric level,” eh? That sounds pretty awe-inspiring. But what does it actually mean to make it rain? You might think of witch doctors and mystical dancers, but according to Urban Dictionary, it’s “when you have a wad of cash and throw it in the air in a strip club. It's also a song by Fat Joe.” Now, there are no strip clubs mentioned in Sherman’s story, but I’m guessing the effect is basically the same, except that it’s Washington raining money on Citibank (already the recipient of a taxpayer-funded $45 billion bailout). That sounds great. If you’re Citibank. Or if you’re Orszag. According to Sherman’s sources, the former public servant is likely collecting in the neighborhood of $2 or $3 million for his rainmaking services. Fat Joe would be proud, I’m sure. As for the rest of us, well, that's tougher to say. In the end, we may not ever find out who Orszag really is. But it’s clear enough what all the elite connections he made on the public dime are currently allowing him to become: rich.

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  • Paul||

    I don't understand. Why would Citi Bank... hell, ANY bank hire an ex-Obama administration finance official as a 'conduit' to Washington Power?

  • Jerry||

    Insurance. Get some Obama admin DNA as company and you can be assured you won't get investigated for the next few years.

  • Restoras||

    And the next time they need a big fat blank check, they can get one. Or two.

  • marlok||

    Also, Orszag brings to citibank his knowledge of all the loopholes to escape taxation and all of the clever ways to duck regulation (while the competitors get stuck in the brambles).

    Gotta admit that the guy's a high value pencil-necked, family-deserting geek.

  • ||

    Um, because the Obama Administration put in place regulations that help them supremely? Do you really think the FinReg bill hurts the biggest banks?

    If everybody has to comply with regulations, the big business always comes out on top because they have better infrastructure, accountants, lawyers, lobbyists, purchasing power, etc, and they get to buy up the pieces of their smaller competitors who can't compete in the environment.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure Paul was being sarcastic. Very sarcastic.

  • ||

    I hope so - maybe too subtle. I could just as easily see some Team Red shill saying that genuinely.

  • Paul||

    I was hoping for a Team Blue member to reply. But no such luck.

  • ||

    FinReg is hard on Citi, Morgan and BoA.

    The Volcker Rule limits investment to 3% of capital.

    There is resolution authority if they go below capital standards.

    The CFPB.

    .12c limit on debit card transactions,

    etc.

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    Its soooo hard when you have direct access to the Fed's credit. Regulations be damned, the Fed runs the show.

  • ||

    The Fed's credit demands adequate collateral.

    If it didn't WaMu would still be around.

  • JD||

    But Obama promised to keep TEH CORPERASHUNS from buying access to power. He wouldn't ignore a campaign promise, would he?

  • ||

    Let me explain to you about Teh Sexy

  • ||

    Don't consult the Urban Dictionary for a business term.

    A rainmaker is a superstar revenue producer and not “when you have a wad of cash and throw it in the air in a strip club. It's also a song by Fat Joe.”

    Citi hired this asshole to help circumvent FinReg via his Rolodex.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Citi hired this asshole to help circumvent FinReg via his Rolodex.

    Proof positive that such regulatory gamesmanship can only be counteracted by more regulations.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    For what they're paying, he better do more than that. He better help rewrite/interpret regulations to Citi's advantage and competitors' detriment.

  • Peter Suderman||

    Shrike: That was basically my point. He's a revenue producer. He's there to make it rain...for Citibank.

  • ||

    You got it right. I missed this more than subtle hint "but I’m guessing the effect is basically the same, except that it’s Washington raining money on Citibank".

    That says it all.

  • fish||

    Oh my god.....I kinda agree with Sheik.

    Did the earth just spin off it's axis?

  • ||

    Did the earth just spin off it's axis?

    No.

    Shrike thinks this all OK. He is simply being honest that he wants government to pick winners and losers, and it is OK for banks to hire Obama administration buddies and to use their influence in Washington to make this happen.

  • Restoras||

    Shrike is dead-on right.

  • ||

    Liberals get the corruption involved with the revolving door, they just don't understand that the problem lies in government's enormous power. The more weight government can throw around, the more valuable it is to buy off government people.

  • Paul||

    This was the point of my snarky question at the top of the thread.

  • JD||

    Citi hired this asshole to help circumvent FinReg via his Rolodex.

    Fucking Iron Laws, how do they work?

  • Virginia||

    Is it too much to ask to include a picture of the Vorvon for comparison? Orszag's the bureaucratic genus of the parasite, or Vorszag™, Mr. Suderman, if you please.

  • fish||

    Tough to go wrong with a unibrow of that magnitude!

  • ||

    Interesting how much someone like this gets paid. That's pretty much open evidence of a corrupt system.

  • Paul||

    The regulations are corrupt. Obamapigs keep telling us to hate the players while trusting the game.

  • ||

    Rubin $33 million and year

    think you meant "per year".

    Too bad Citibank does not have some clawback provision for Rubin - clearly he should return every cent he made post-Clinton.

  • Restoras||

    No way man, that salary ensured a hotline directly to the right people to ensure a bailout. Reaping dividends, I tell ya!

  • youtube tranny||

    LEAVE PETER ALONE!!!!

  • ||

    a “deficit hawk,” who claims he quit his job “upset by Washington’s refusal to get serious about the deficit,”

    Hilarious. You join Obama's administration because you think he's "serious about [shrinking] the deficit"?

  • ||

    "Deficit, economy, what's the difference?"

  • ||

    +10,000

  • ||

    +10,000

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Wow, excellent.

  • ||

    Didn't Obama promise to stick his foot in the revolving door between Wall St and Washington?

    Poor guy must have twisted his ankle, that thing's spinning so fast.

  • Paul||

    He did, not in the way he lead us to believe. He stuck his foot in the door like the pushy salesman of old.

  • Ice Nine||

    "Pretty boy", "ladies man", "hunk"?? Geez, all these years I was pretty sure I understood the meaning of these terms.

  • ||

    The left has a weird predilection for sexually fetishizing its heroes, much more than the right, for some reason. I guess their particular flavor of love of authority will do that.

  • Ice Nine||

    Well, I guess $30mill/yr from Citi would explain the "ladies man".

  • Restoras||

    I wonder what they said about Il Duce?

  • ||

    Sarah Palin?

  • ||

    She's a woman and not bad looking. But Orzag? Calling him a "hunk" and a "ladies' man"? You don't find that much odder than the Palin thing?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Not great looking. Probably won't age well.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Palin.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    She already has aged well.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Not great looking.

  • marlok||

    Are you kidding? Look, her presence on TV irritates me, but she's attractive, especially for someone approaching 50.

  • ||

    Maybe he's a Ron Jeremy type. Reporters on the Beltway circuit probably have a better idea of the state of his plumbing than you or I.

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    I don't know about that, he's screwed all of us pretty good

  • ||

    But Orzag? Calling him a "hunk" and a "ladies' man"?

    He is uberwealthy...so by default he is a hunk and is a ladies man.

  • Paul||

    Sarah Palin's attractive by any reasonable metric. Orszag looks like he gets his lunch money taken on a regular basis.

  • ||

    His forehead. . .is that Frankenstein's forehead?

  • Ice Nine||

    He is the alien Nicole Kidman's secret occult alien soul mate.

  • ||

    Well, now, she's attractive, at least. Or was, anyway.

  • ||

    I have a hard time separating physical appearance from mental acumen after getting to know someone....and Palin has wind blowing through her ears.

  • Paul||

    I understand. Unfortunately, given my checkered past, sometimes the crazy makes them more attractive. I'm working through this with my therapist...

  • ||

    Orszag looks like he gets his lunch money taken on a regular basis.

    His wallet is astonishingly attractive to any women.

  • ||

    Excuse me, I'm in charge of the misogyny here.

  • Kristen||

    Not to mention standards of sexiness for men in Washington are incredibly low, given the male:female ratio. If you're a butt ugly dude with a couple of names to drop and a Master's degree, and you want to get laid on a regular basis, come to DC. Believe me.

  • ||

    Sadly all replies to your question regarding Orszag's looks are by men it seems...whither thy poor libertarian tree.

    Back to Mom's basement stat!

  • The Truth||

    Yes, banks LOVE Wall St. regulations, that's why they fought so hard to sink the FinReg reform bill! Makes PERFECT sense!

    Morons.

  • ||

    YELLOW PERIL!!! CHINK NAVY!!!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    The question we should really be asking ourselves is: How are Chinese banks responding to Wall St. regulations?

  • The Truth||

    Banks in China are fully run by the state, which is how it should be here. They should be made to serve the people, not the top Two Percent and their ponzi schemes.

  • Paul||

    Banks in China are fully run by the state, which is how it should be here. They should be made to serve the people,

    Sort of like how the North Korean People's Army serves the people?

  • Ice Nine||

    Your banking paragon blows, Truth. China's four major banks are run by the Party and just like good Commies everywhere, they take care of their cronies. In this case they do so by making loans to them that are not based on sound economic principles. It is one of China's structural problems. We don't hear much about those, of course.

  • The Truth||

    Funny that it was the American banks that collapsed in 2008 while Chinese ones were barely touched by the recession, huh?

  • Ice Nine||

    Why, because the two systems didn't have problems simultaneously? I don't know what is so strange about that.

  • ||

    Of course, by "state", you mean probably far less than two percent of China, as it is most assuredly not the slightest bit democratic.

  • The Truth||

    The current American system isn't "democratic", either. FFS we elected someone as President in 2000 who recieved FEWER VOTES THAN THE LOSER.

    Ameria is, at best, a dysfunctional, degenerate "democracy" in the vein of Weimar Germany. At worst, it's just another oligarchy with electoral politics as a dishonest smoke screen for the rubes and fools.

  • Restoras||

    "At worst, it's just another oligarchy with electoral politics as a dishonest smoke screen for the rubes and fools."

    I'd say plutocracy but otherwise I think you're cathing on.

  • Paul||

    Ameria is, at best, a dysfunctional, degenerate "democracy" in the vein of Weimar Germany. At worst, it's just another oligarchy with electoral politics as a dishonest smoke screen for the rubes and fools.

    But we voted for Hope & Change! When do I get my Hope & Change?!

  • cynical||

    "The current American system isn't "democratic", either. FFS we elected someone as President in 2000 who recieved FEWER VOTES THAN THE LOSER."

    Also, I never voted for any cop.

    Wait, does every single government position have to be filled democratically for it to be a democracy? I get that as as tyranny-worshiping ChiCom statist, you believe the President to be synonymous with the government, in turn synonymous with the nation; but the American ideal, however badly it has declined, was to place more hands in our deliberative bodies than in the Great Leader.

  • Restoras||

    Try to follow along here:
    All big corporations love regulations because it raises barriers to entry. Once those barriers are up they have more power to screw their customers all enabled by the Capitol Hill Clown Car.

    "Fighting" so "hard" to sink FinReg? Please, that's mere window dressing.

  • The Truth||

    So all the money the Chamber of Commerce dumps into propaganda ads saying we need deregulation is just part of some grand 11-dimensional chess strategy?

    I think my explanation--they fight against it because they oppose it--makes much more sense than your stupid conspiracy theory.

  • Paul||

    Kochsusses!

  • ||

    The racist conspiracy troll accused someone of...having a stupid conspiracy theory. It's just so delicious.

  • Restoras||

    Wake up.

    Sure they oppose it. They oppose it becasue it means they have to build up more lobbying efforts, get the right people in the right place, make the right donations to those in power, etc. etc., in order to first protect themselves. Once all that is in place, and they have a seat at the table, they can make sure the regulations cause the least damage possible, and can isolate and dominate the market.

    Mmmm....smell that? It's called coffee.

  • Paul||

    You might also point out cases of industry fighting regulation, then at the last minute, withdrawing its objections, or even suggesting their own regulatory framework.

  • Number 2||

    "For Citi, hiring a man like Orszag, like Rubin before him, signaled that Citi would be invested in the intellectual marketplace, no mere profiteering bank but a significant American institution."

    HUH??

  • Pip||

    The US Navy has fired a laser gun from one of its ships for the first time.

    Researchers used the high-energy laser (HEL) to disable a boat by setting fire to its engines off the coast of California.

    Similar systems had previously been tested on land, however moist sea air presented an extra challenge as it reduces a beam's power.

    The navy said that ship-borne lasers could eventually be used to protect vessels from small attack boats.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-13033437

  • Paul||

    The navy said that ship-borne lasers could eventually be used to protect vessels from small attack boats.

    Something the navy could do much more easily and more cheaply with some old-fashioned rifles and traditional ordnance.

  • D-oh||

    Something the navy could do much more easily and more cheaply with some old-fashioned rifles and traditional ordnance.

    Are you not paying attention? That would not be sexy or expensive enough.

  • ||

    For real. John Moses Browning (PBUH) designed the .50 caliber machine gun nearly a hundred years ago. It's still in service, it still works. The Army has a camera/servo motor gadget that mounts on Humvees to fire without risking the gunner. Put them together, add waterproofing, paint it grey, weld it down.

  • cynical||

    Any word about miniaturizing the tech? Are shark-mounted versions far away?

  • ||

    Sharks? I want my damn Lasercat and I want it now.

  • ||

    Sexy???

    He is quite unattractive - solidly below average. There is nothing nice about his looks and there are some obvious areas of concern (too skinny, eyes set too close, hooked nose, problematic hair etc).

    Having a few girlfriends doesn't make you a hunk.

  • ||

    Yeah if this is the best the Dems can do it is pretty pitiful. I don't care much for the Repubs either but at least they seem to be better looking (Jeff Flake, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, etc)

    Maybe with all his money Orsag can buy a better wig.

  • alan||

    Top of my head, Andrew Cuomo and Rahm Emanuel are not bad looking dudes. The governor lady from, er, Minnesota? Michegan, Jennifer G-something, was nice looking a decade ago. Hasn't aged well. Hagan from my state is not bad looking, and has a nice ass. Weird thing about the Dem wymens, they tend to be prudes looking to score social status points, and are just looking for an excuse to be offended. I've partied much harder with Republican women, over all.

  • marlok||

    Even though I was delighted to see him lose, the guy who ran against Rand Paul was a pretty handsome guy. I was actually concerned that he would win based on looks.

  • Paul||

    There's something very Steven Colbert about him.

  • Ice Nine||

    Metrosexual (bar-arf)

  • Atanarjuat||

    Odd, cuz I was thinking he looked like John Oliver.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Nice alt-text Suderman.

  • Restoras||

    Well considering that Rubin was around to oversee the bailout I presume the next time Citi needs one they'll have even better connections.

  • ||

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201.....debt_limit

    The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama regrets his vote as a senator in 2006 against raising the debt limit — the same kind of increase he's now pressuring Congress to approve.

    Obama "thinks it was a mistake," presidential spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. "He realizes now that raising the debt ceiling is so important to the health of this economy and the global economy that it is not a vote that, even when you are protesting an administration's policies, you can play around with."

    [...]

    That was the case in 2006 when Republican George W. Bush was president and Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, declared on the Senate floor: "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. ... Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem."
  • Paul||

    Kochsusses!

  • ||

    10 minutes later, this story vanished from my AP newsfeed. Hmmm.....

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Look at that fucking beak.

  • ||

    Before Orszag, (B.O.?) I wondered why black people called white people 'honks.'

    Then I saw and heard this fucker talk once on CNBC. Then it all made sense.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    It's "honky," man.

  • Manolo the Shoeblogger||

    "Pretty Boy"?

    The Manolo does not think that word means what you think it means.

    In poker, the bad toupee would be what is known as the "tell".

  • ||

    He looks like he is being attacked by a sausage.

  • ||

    The guy has a muskrat pelt on his head held in place by a sturdy chin strap. Maybe that's the secret of his otherwise mysterious "pretty boy" allure. You can never tell about women and their taste in male headgear.

  • ||

    Give him epaulets and an iron cross. He deserves them.

  • ||

    For a rainmaker he has a VERY large nose. Good thing it's not upside down.

  • ||

    Hmmm. Govt for Sale AGAIN. Can anyone tell us the difference between this guy and a mob bagman? Or a club doorman. Time to stop the insider game. New Law: for the amount of time you were employed by a govt agency you are barred from working for any entity that has business with the govt. No lobbying or advocacy as a paid (or otherwise compensated) employee. For example, Budget Director for 2 years? No employment in finance for 2 years. Same for Congress. In office for 4 terms; no lobbying for the next 4 terms. Past time to weld the revolving door shut; if not permanently remove it.

  • jp||

    he has a rug on his head

  • ||

    Noticed that Peter Orszog wears a watch on his right hand..is he a HOBY alumni?

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