Scary Players I: Timothy Geithner

Maybe it’s the nature of democracy, when it’s starting to work again after a long hiatus, to be uncertain. It seems like every time I get set to proclaim happy days are here again, some new cold ugliness dampens the impulse. What could be better than Yitzhak Perlman and Yoyo Ma improvising together in concert followed by President Obama’s inspirational inaugural? And then within 48 hours, a series of historic Executive Orders reconnecting our government with our Constitution once again. It doesn’t get much better than this.

But then, this following bit of cold water caught my attention:

Treasury Nominee Failed to Halt Bond Scam

U.S. senators at Timothy Geithner’s confirmation hearing for Treasury Secretary Wednesday may want to ask him about a failure to act that is costing the U.S. a lot more than the amount he evaded on taxes.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which he has led since 2003, conducts the operations on Wall Street of the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, the country’s central bank. The New York Fed under Geithner’s presidency has failed to stop massive naked short selling of U.S. Treasury bonds that threatens the stability of the market and sale of the bonds.

via Treasury Nominee Failed to Halt Bond Scam :: The Komisar Scoop.

It is definitely worth following the link to the Komisar Scoop, investigative journalist Lucy Komisar’s website, to read a clear description of just how and why Timothy Geithner‘s failure to act “threatens the stability” of the U.S. Treasury bond market. But the scary part is that this guy’s work history provides no clue as to why he should be trusted with the U.S. Treasury. Scarcely out of Dartmouth, he goes to work and learn from no lesser paragon of probity than Henry Kissenger, prime candidate for a war crimes tribunal if there ever was one. A few years later he goes to work in the Treasury Department under Bush I where he remains through the Clinton years, becoming the disciple of Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who, along with Alan Greenspan, was an active opponent to the regulation of derivatives in the run-up to the current credit debacle.

We can only hope that, if his appointment goes through as predicted, that he has learned the folly of his former ways. After all, as the investment banks’ PR flacks are always telling us, “Past performance is no predictor of future behavior.”

How to Leave a Comment

I realized after switching my blog’s theme to “Grid Focus” (from Andreas 09), it is no longer obvious how to leave a comment. There is no “Comment” link visible anywhere on the page. But it’s actually still easy to do. You just have to click on the post title. For example, to leave a comment to this post, just click on the bold “How to Leave a Comment” heading at the top of this entry and leave your comment in the box on the page that comes up.

I’m really looking forward to hearing from you!

The Bailout STILL Stinks

It’s great, of course, to be on the cutting edge of change. But the scale and pace of current developments in Washington scarcely leave time for reflection, let alone thoughtful analysis.

Take the recent Wall Street Bailout. Please.

The magnitude of the dollars involved, the speed with which the Congress leaped to throw the national treasure at the bankers, the apparent lack of regard for citizen outrage, the absence of any concern to provide a convincing explanation for their action, the fickle nature of mass media coverage, all cry out for attention. But now, Tuesday’s inaugural extravaganza with its accompaniment of blather from establishment pundits appears ready to swallow all public awareness of any Congressional missteps.

So, I’m thinking that you all will be as happy as I was to see that there is still quality thinking and writing going on, if only one is lucky enough to know where to encounter it. For today’s Wackerfiles offering in this category, I will mention two:

Both of these essays pay attention to economics as if people mattered in the best tradition of E. F. Schumacher

Of course, one hopes that the new administration with its expressed commitment to providing a “Seat at the Table” and ongoing invitation to “Join the Discussion” will actually pay attention to the good stuff. One also hopes that the folks doing the thinking and writing will make the extra effort to put their offerings in front of the new administration in one form or another. And finally one hopes that, with the awareness that, in politics, quantity counts, those of us fortunate to stumble across important writing will take steps to bring it to the attention of policy makers by, for example, uploading a copy or a link to the Transition Team.

More on Immigration Policy

As a footnote to the last post on immigration policy, I want to mention the Obama Administration transition website, Change.gov. The website overall purpose is explained here, on the “About” page. By going to the “Your Seat at the Table” page and typing in “immigration policy” you are able to access all documents submitted to the Transition Team on that subject.

I found a much more comprehensive and thorough proposal than the one in yesterday’s post on Change.gov in this document on immigration policy drafted by an ad hoc group.

Immigration Policy: Transition Blueprint

On Illegal Imigration

I called my friend Mike last night to thank him for his thoughtful Christmas gift and to wish him a happy new year.

Mike’s an attorney with a PhD. in economics, who, in addition to being one of the brightest guys I know, will occasionally agree with me, and so, demonstrate he is also smart. Regardless, our telephone conversations, tend to be infrequent, far-ranging, and lengthy.

From Christmas gifts we went on to health care and foreign policy, corruption in high places, the Wall Street bailout, the decline of trade unions, and so by degrees we arrived at the problem of illegal immigration.

You will recall over the past summer, before financial misadventure eclipsed all else from the radar screen, there was quite a lively conversation going on about immigration policy. Being debated were ideas such as temporary worker visas, closing the borders with National Guard troops, our own version of the Berlin Wall along the Tex-Mex border, jail time for U.S. employers who hire illegals, and so on.

While many of us were content to remain uncommitted or confused about the issue, reasoning that if the people paid to worry about this sort of thing couldn’t come up with a coherent approach, what hope did we working stiffs have of figuring it all out, a few bold souls put forward comprehensive plans to resolve it. Mike is nothing if not bold, and so predictably, came up with a plan which he articulated as follows:

  1. Seal the border down tight
  2. Come up with a plan to legitimize the 20 million or so undocumented workers and their families already here.

    I know what you’re thinking: “This is a plan? How are you gonna accomplish item 1., never mind item 2.?” OK. Reasonable questions, but you gotta start somewhere. I had similar concerns. So, I offered the following items:
  3. Citizens or not, if they’re working here, assign social security account number’s and collect taxes from their paychecks same as everybody else. Only hitch is, if they don’t get to collect retirement benefits unless and until they achieve full citizenship.
  4. Stiffen penalties for employers who don’t withhold the taxes and beef up enforcement.


Anyone out there care to comment/improve upon any of the above? I think it ought to be possible to apply program managment methodology to the outline above and make implementation feasible. What do you think?

Mike says most of the liberals he knows are more concerned about global warming than the fate of the illegals or their impact on employment and social services in this country. What’s your take on this?