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June 15, 2009

bailout-photoAs if we didn’t already have enough to do, those wacky kids in charge of overhauling our federal banking system are clearly going to need a lesson in sharing.  I mean, we can’t take ten minutes out for ourselves to throw in a load of laundry and here they are again, at each other’s throats.  At least the housing crisis kept them busy and out of our hair for a while; now it’s “Your banks got more bail-out money than my banks” this or “I’m telling!  You fired the upper management at Citigroup without checking with the Treasury Secretary!” that.   It’s enough to drive a grown-up batty.

I’m speaking specifically about the ongoing and embarrassingly public feud between Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan and Chairwoman of the FDIC Sheila C. Bair, both powerful bank regulators and both apparently age 8.  Stuck in the middle Refereeing this debate is poor Tim Geithner, our Treasury Secretary, who at this point in the tussle has clearly had enough.

An article in The New York Times gives the details about why they’re feuding and what was actually said in serious tones befitting the Grey Lady, but as a public service for readers who might not have a background in advanced economics and regulatory legal issues, I have decided to break the issues down into smaller, easier-to-digest sound bites.  It’s the least I can do.

Tim Geithner: OK, why are the banks still lying in pieces on the floor?  I thought I asked you two to clean this mess up.

Sheila Bair: But I’m only in charge of cleaning up the small banks.  John’s big banks made the mess in the first place.

John Dugan: Nuh UH!!  I cleaned up my banks, ’cause Tim told me he would impose stiff new insurance fees on me if I didn’t.

Sheila Bair: But that’s not FAIR!!!  You’re getting more money from Tim anyway.  Poopyhead.

John Dugan: I’m not a poopyhead!  YOU’RE a poopyhead!!!  Besides, who was getting ready to fire the upper management at Citigroup yesterday?  Not me!

Sheila Bair: Was NOT!  I was outside playing with Wells Fargo. DOUBLE POOPYHEAD!!!

John Dugan: Plus he likes me better.

Sheila Bair: Tiiiiiiiimm!

Tim Geithner: OK, you two just wait until President Obama gets home.  Then you’ll be sorry.  God, I need a drink…

So I think we can assume that Tim Geithner has this well under control.  Nothing to worry about at the Treasury or the Federal Reserve.  Your economic recovery is being led by grown-ups who handle their jobs with the utmost dignity and maturity.

And a little sibling rivalry is healthy.  Isn’t it?

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