Will Geithner protect us next time?
Eliot Spitzer claims that Treasury secretary's weak negotiating raised financial bailout cost. But in reality, the government was in over its head.
By Jamie Dlugosch
Sorry, Tim Geithner. Former New York governor and attorney general Eliot Spitzer makes a strong case in the online magazine Slate that you got fleeced in the AIG bailout.
Spitzer says the Treasury secretary's weak negotiating raised the bailout cost to $200 billion.
It wasn't just a failure of Geithner; the reality was that the government was way over its head in dealing with this complex crisis. Wall Street manipulated the markets in creating the crisis and then manipulated the government to extricate itself from the damage.
The Street took advantage of what appears to be a less-informed and ill-equipped government. And in the end, we taxpayers pay for that ineptitude.
What’s worse is that there's no easy way to keep it from happening again. Yes, we can demand more experience in those anointed to protect the taxpayers. But Bush's Treasury chief, Hank Paulson, had deep knowledge of the workings of Wall Street -- and it didn't help us.
So now, how should we on Main Street react then when the Treasury secretary sits idly by as the dollar collapses and commodity prices, especially gold, are going through the roof?
I would like to think that the failure to defend the dollar is part of a well-planned policy that is betting a weaker dollar will spur domestic manufacturing activity without the risk of inflation.
But it is hard to have faith in the government when Wall Street so effectively took advantage during the financial crisis.
I suspect lobbyists for the huge multinational firms in this country are pressuring Geithner to resist protecting the dollar. They say jobs will be forthcoming as a falling dollar makes our exports more attractive to foreign buyers.
Unfortunately, my guess is that the extra profits will simply be pocketed by these corporations, just as Wall Street firms benefited from the bailouts of AIG and other banks.
You can see this already in the appreciation of publicly-traded multinationals. The only way the small investor can win right now is by investing in the companies that directly benefit from government policy.
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