"Some bankers say the conditions have become so onerous that they want to return the bailout money," Stephen LaBaton reports in The New York Times. "They say they plan to return the money as quickly as possible or as soon as regulators set up a process to accept the refunds."
The ungrateful recipients range from little Iberia Bank of Lafayette, Louisiana to Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs.
The banks don’t like Congress telling them to let shareholders vote on salaries or to limit evictions.
Well, if they don’t need the money, then by all means let them give it back. If they do need the money but don’t like the terms, tough.
Saving lenders isn’t the same as saving either borrowers or the overpaid executives who work for lenders. One does not imply the others.
If Congress wants banks to actually lend the tax money it shovels their way, it should find a way to treat the money like food stamps, which are worthless unless and until you buy food with them. The funds Congress wants lent should be worthless unless and until the banks lend them.
If the goal is saving banks, rather than borrowers, and the mechanism is letting them treat tax dollars as assets, then the government has become an owner and should feel free to call the shots. Yes, this is nationalization, although, as any number of people have pointed out, it could be fleeting.
This is the only right time to insist on reforms. Saving banks now, and reforming them later would be an absolute non-starter. It would be like a Skid Road religious mission expecting down-and-outers to sit through a sermon after they got their soup. Only in politics can that be dressed up as a rational strategy.
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