Corporate Welfare

Geithner's Old Boy Network Doesn't Extend West of the Appalachians


Enterprising work by the Associated Press's Matt Apuzzo and Daniel Wagner reveals Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner's appointment calendar for the year. You will not be surprised to learn where Geithner gets all his ideas. The allotment of secretarial time, in this post-conflict-of-interest era, seems to be based entirely on prior relationships:

After one hectic week in May in which the U.S. faced the looming bankruptcy of General Motors and the prospect that the government would take over the automaker, Geithner wrapped up his night with a series of phone calls.

First he called Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and CEO at Goldman. Then he called Jamie Dimon, the boss at JPMorgan. Obama called next, and as soon as they hung up, Geithner was back on the phone with Dimon.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner keeps his friends close.

While all this was going on, Geithner got a call from Rep. Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat who serves on committees that help set tax and budget policies.

Becerra left a message.

In the first seven months of Geithner's tenure, his calendars reflect at least 80 contacts with Blankfein, Dimon, Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons or Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit.

Geithner had more contacts with Citigroup than he did with Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the lawmaker leading the effort to approve Geithner's overhaul of the financial system. Geithner's contacts with Blankfein alone outnumber his contacts with Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Partly this is explained by the extraordinary clout of these companies. Goldman, JPMorgan and Citigroup are among the dominant players on Wall Street. Their executives can move not just markets but entire economies. Treasury invested heavily in all of them to keep the industry afloat.

But size does not tell the whole story. Treasury has a huge financial stake in North Carolina-based Bank of America Corp., but CEO Ken Lewis appears on Geithner's calendars only three times. Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack also appears three times.

Geithner's relationship with Goldman, JPMorgan, Citigroup and their executives dates to his tenure as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As one of Wall Street's top regulators, Geithner worked closely with executives and built relationships he brought with him to his corner office at the Treasury Department.

John Carney notes that Geithner's list of BFFs doesn't include some of the biggest players in the field, including Wells Fargo. There's also an interesting though imperfect geographical overlap, where your chances of being a FOG increase the closer your headquarters is to New York. More specifically, the more you suck up to Number One TurboTax Recession Warrior, the more power you will have over the taxpayers.

NEXT: Reason's Pete Bagge Gets Fox Pilot Deal

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  1. Tim, are you comparing Geithner to Jack Nance or his character? I’d prefer it was Nance, for rather uncharitable reasons.

  2. In heaven everything is fine…

  3. Timmy has so many hands up his ass trying to pull the strings it must be difficult to walk. Personally I miss him talking to Congress every other day. For a few months you could trade and make money on when Timmy had a hearing.

  4. Yo, fuck Tim Geithner.

  5. You know, the Marxists have long claimed that capitalism is just a bunch of plutocrats sitting around tugging each other’s Mr. Happy, and now that they’re running things lock, stock and barrel, I’ll be damned if they aren’t making it come true.

  6. I’d prefer it was Nance, for rather uncharitable reasons.

    If I ever bump into Geithner in a donut shop, wink-wink.

    I don’t get the reference, either. It is a great “I don’t know how to do things!” face.

    1. Nance yelled at some guys that they should get a haircut and get a job outside a donut shop early one morning. One socked him in the eye and Nance died from a hematoma later that night after getting shitface drunk.

      1. I’m an idiot. I reread and see that you already know this.

  7. So which one of these guys is Eraserhead?

  8. Two books, two calendars. 😉

  9. You know, the Marxists have long claimed that capitalism is just a bunch of plutocrats sitting around tugging each other’s Mr. Happy, and now that they’re running things lock, stock and barrel, I’ll be damned if they aren’t making it come true.

    I’ve been thinking that we should let liberals win on their redefinition of the word “capitalism” to mean what we libertarians would call “crony capitalism”. After all they are describing something that really exists, even if we feel they mislabel it. We still have “free market”.

    1. I will not sacrifice the word “capitalism”. We’ve made too many compromises already, too many retreats.

      They take our word “liberal”, and we fall back.

      They take our concept of civil liberties and misapply it to justify “rights” to health care, education, and employment; and we fall back.

      Not again. The line must be drawn heeyah! This far, no farther! And I will make them pay for what they’ve done.

  10. We still have “free market”.

    Are you kidding? Do you know how many Republicans defined themselves as “free market”, versus the two or three that actually come close?

    I say we ramp up the hyperbole on calling everyone who supports any government program that redistributes wealth a “socialist” (including, perhaps especially, crony capitalists) until they give us the real “capitalist” back.

    Fuck them. Fuck them unconsentually with large, strangely shaped inanimate objects.

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