My blood started boiling as I was reading an article in the New York Times on December 15th coming in to work about how executives of three large banks–Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup–did not show up at the White House for a meeting with President Obama that was to deal with getting these institutions to make more loans to small businesses and consumers.
Their excuse? Bad weather prevented their flights from getting to Washington from New York on Dec. 14.
So, they had to participate in the hour-long meeting by speaker phone. This is one case where you can literally say “they phoned it in.”
A year ago, these same banks were all too anxious to get to Washington because that was where the money was that would pull their butts out of the disaster they had created through their risk-taking folly.
Now, however, that they seem to be on a sounder financial footing, and have paid back the bailout funds that were so constricting their bonus and compensation schemes, they let some fog or otherwise inclement weather interfere with meeting with the president.
I ask you, if you knew you were supposed to meet with the president on a Monday morning, wouldn’t you have enough sense as the CEO of a multi-billion dollar institution to check what the weather was supposed to be and, if forecast was poor, go to D.C. the day before? And if you were too busy as said CEO to do so yourself, couldn’t one of your assistants have done it?
But perhaps you were too busy either counting your expected compensation (since your bank was no longer under TARP restrictions) or bemoaning the fact the public outrage had forced you to forego a cash bonus in favor of stock.
This episode, along with the year-long dithering that has just seen the House pass a financial services reform bill and is still waiting for something to emerge in the Senate, makes me believe that not only has nothing changed, but that things have actually gotten worse.