Photo: AP Photo
Last week, Sandy Weill, the former Citigroup head and godfather of the supermarket bank concept, recanted his life’s work on CNBC.Sort of.
And this week, after giving the whole thing a lot of thought and reading some follow-up opinions on it, Rolling Stone’s fire-brand blogger Matt Taibbi finally put in his two cents.
Naturally, he thought Weill’s turn-around merited a more intense response than it was given by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin.
From Rolling Stone:
“Dude, are you high? You invented Too Big To Fail!” would have been the proper response – followed hopefully by a spirited lunge across the set to beat Weill repeatedly about the neck and head with a Swingline stapler, until he screeched out a tearful apology to every last living soul on earth.
Not that Taibbi thinks too much ot Sorkin anyway, who he called “the single most credulously slobbering financial reporter on the planet this side of Maria Bartiromo.”
There’s more: This week, former Car Czar and financier Steven Rattner wrote a defence of our current banking system (contrary to Weill’s point), joining the ranks of the Wall Street Journal and others who, according to Taibbi, are like “Japanese soldiers still swearing allegiance to the emperor from Pacific island bunkers years after Hiroshima.”
Rattner said that Weill’s words were more distraction than anything else since the supermarket model didn’t cause the financial crisis anyway. That made Taibbi laugh, since the point of Weill’s statement was that banks should be smaller so that taxpayers don’t have to bail them out in the event of any trouble, not that their size was the trouble in the first place.
But what really had Taibbi rolling was Rattner’s point that making banks smaller would be “emasculating one of our most successful industries.”
One could go on at length in answering this ludicrous passage, pointing out for instance how insane it is for Rattner to call TBTF banking “one of our most successful industries” when the business is now known all over the world to be so totally corrupt that nobody was even surprised when they found out that global interest rates were being manipulated. Or when basically the entire banking industry has been downgraded to near-junk status thanks to the widespread perception that their balance sheets are a travesty of phony accounting and unrealized losses.
But this would just be beating a dead horse.
We’re pretty sure Taibbi hasn’t had this much fun in weeks.