Monday, December 22, 2008

Where is Richard Shelby When You Need Him?

While Rick Wagoner, UAW retirees, the state of Michigan, and the rest of the backbone of American manufacturing are saying "thank you" to Washington for not pulling the trigger and killing us after the credit crisis took us hostage, the people that perpetrated the original crime get to give the taxpayer the big "F-U" as they spend their billions.

Senator Shelby, would you care to comment on the audacity of the banking system here?

It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where's the money going?

But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

"We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We've not given any accounting of, 'Here's how we're doing it,'" said Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money. "We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to."

The AP had four simple questions for 21 banks that received over $1 billion dollars: How much spent, what did you spend it on, what are your savings, and what is the plan going forward. With $350 billion still out there waiting to be had, it seems like they might want to prove themselves worthy of the taxpayer's next round of Wall Street bailouts, right?


Nearly every bank AP questioned -- including Citibank and Bank of America, two of the largest recipients of bailout money -- responded with generic public relations statements explaining that the money was being used to strengthen balance sheets and continue making loans to ease the credit crisis.

Nice in theory - but some banks couldn't even tell you where the money went, so how would they know?

Most just said, "No. We won't tell you."

"We're choosing not to disclose that," said Kevin Heine, spokesman for Bank of New York Mellon, which received about $3 billion.

Others said the money couldn't be tracked. Bob Denham, a spokesman for North Carolina-based BB&T Corp., said the bailout money "doesn't have its own bucket." But he said taxpayer money wasn't used in the bank's recent purchase of a Florida insurance company. Asked how he could be sure, since the money wasn't being tracked, Denham said the bank would have made that deal regardless.

Others, such as Morgan Stanley spokeswoman Carissa Ramirez, offered to discuss the matter with reporters on condition of anonymity. When AP refused, Ramirez sent an e-mail saying: "We are going to decline to comment on your story."

Most banks wouldn't say why they were keeping the details secret.

"We're not sharing any other details. We're just not at this time," said Wendy Walker, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based Comerica Inc., which received $2.25 billion from the government.

Heine, the New York Mellon Corp. spokesman who said he wouldn't share spending specifics, added: "I just would prefer if you wouldn't say that we're not going to discuss those details."

Wonder why our friends from the South are so quiet about this. It seems that Corker should be calling a special session to hold these people accountable for their actions and arrogance. Then again, he probably would blame the hourly wages of bank tellers as being the problem here, and demand that they all become temps and sacrifice their hourly wages and any health care they might have.

Yeah. That would fix everything.