Dealbook editor Andrew Ross Sorkin is guest-hosting Squawk Box this morning, but it’s his fellow NYT scribe Gretchen Morgenson who is riding high these days.
You can draw a straight line between Morgenson’s reporting (however controversial), and the charges brought against Goldman Sachs (GS) on Friday.
In her column for the Sunday paper, she implicitly hammers on Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Though she doesn’t name him directly, she calls out the notion that the bailouts have been a “success” and that the Treasury has made money, merely because on paper The TARP appears on track to take in more money than it spent.
In it he wrote:
Every couple of months the Treasury Department takes a moment to strategically leak some good news about the bailouts. It happened again on Monday, when a Treasury official told The Wall Street Journal that America’s coffers would be only $89 billion lighter after all accounts were settled from the rescues, down from an earlier estimate of $250 billion.
It’s enough to make us all feel rich, isn’t it?
Sorkin then does acknowledge other costs not baked into the maths (zero interest rate money provided to the banks, etc.), but finally concludes optimistically.
Morgenson walks through the same maths, but concludes on a far more negative tone, and she slams those who would pop the champagne.
Of course, the $89 billion estimate also excludes big costs associated with the implied government guarantees of large, interconnected and clubby financial institutions. Dean Baker, co-director of the centre for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, estimated last year that 18 large banks that the market viewed as too big to fail received advantages — such as artificially cheap funding costs — worth $34 billion a year.
Such financial benefits represent yet another cost of the banking crisis and the continuing actions the government is taking to protect our system from the mistakes of megabanks. Even if Treasury doesn’t want to acknowledge them, they’re real.
Anyway, expect Morgenson to rule the NYT busines coverage for a while. As Congressional and SEC investigations into Wall Street behaviour roll on, it will be her that wins all the big scoops.
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