It almost sounds like a joke, but it happened today. 8 bank CEOs were asked to appear before the House Financial Services Committee to discuss their use of the bailout money and why all of this is happening.
My favorites are the ones that are unapologetic (Ken Lewis of Bank of America, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup and Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan). Each had a good excuse. Here are the responses.
Vikram Pandit: "I inherited this mess." I really love this defense. It happened before I got here and I had to live with it.
Jamie Dimon: We really didn't want the bailout money and were forced to take it. I got an idea, Mr. Dimon. GIVE IT BACK! This defense was used by Bank of New York Mellon's Robert Kelly and Wells Fargo's John Stumpf. Why don't all of you just give back the money if you don't need it?
One of the CEOs, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, said that he understands why Americans are upset and that we are justified in our anger. I am proud of you, Mr. Blankfein. Thanks for, at least, acknowledging our anger and why we are upset.
Morgan Stanley's John Mack admitted to having made mistakes and took responsibility for the firm's performance. Mr. Mack, thank you for your honesty and accepting responsibility for the mistakes.
Most of the CEOs don't even understand why we are upset. Guys, if you are reading my blog, here's a good story to help you understand the anger. Imagine if I came into your mansion of a home with a big can of gasoline and just trashed your house and poured gasoline all over everything. Then, I came back to you and asked for a match. Don't you think you would be a little upset with me? The same thing happened here. You trashed our economy by making a lot of bad loans and invested money in order to get bonuses. Then, you have the nerve to ask for or take money to cover you losses and get a bonus out of it.
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