Paulson

Have you ever wondered what happened behind the scenes after TARP was passed by Congress in late 2008, when TARP money was disbursed to Wall Street banks?

In my first exclusive thewallstreetgeek.com video, we see the nail-biting negotiations between Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson, and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein:

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n obama wallstreet 090129.300w Exclusive Video! Inside the TARP NegotiationsThank God I’m at a private, down-to-earth bank now.

But prior to today, I was an officer at a big blue blood Wall Street bank that I’m sure was one of the banks that doled out bonuses this past December.

Starting out, my salary was low. But at the end of my first year, I got my salary as a bonus. And a 67% salary increase on top of that.

This all helped a newbie alone in the city who lived check-to-check my first year in a tiny studio, eating soba noodles on paper plates.

But I digress…I was young and hardy, and bought a stereo with my first paycheck. And Maxwell’s new cd.

This slowed down as I moved up the chain towards that glass ceiling that was waiting for me. And this all happened in the late 90′s/early 2000′s.

Today, it makes no sense whatsoever for bonuses to be doled out of this magnitude.

The reasoning I’m hearing is topped by needing to keep talented people. But this isn’t 1998, when all you had to do was cross the street to Lehman or another firm to get a fat signing bonus, a better title and better salary. There IS NO OTHER BANK!!

But this year according to my big bank colleagues if you did a good job, your bonus stayed flat or went down. If you knew the right person, were high up on the chain, or seen to have Talent(tm), you got a higher bonus and in some cases a promotion.

Yes, many people got PROMOTIONS in 2008. Promotions. Which on Wall Street is supposed to come with a higher base salary. You can’t have an Associate earning the same or more than a Vice President. How embarrassing for the VP!

In short, even though I’m on Wall Street I’m not part of one of the bailed out banks who rewarded their employees for crappy performance and dismal earnings with money earned by John and Jane Taxpayer. Shame shame shame.

Go get ‘em Prez.

Want more stories from the inside of Wall Street? Please buy my book Three Little Securities!

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ALeqM5jYW y4z2sFn6yrQ8lHGnIjkvOY1w Exclusive Video! Inside the TARP NegotiationsWhy does this picture make me feel as if Neel Kashkari plans to scoop up my taxpayer dollars and hide in a cave? Only to be sought out by a hobbit?

This is the guy who is responsible for overseeing TARP–the Troubled Assets Relief Program. The rationale was if the government bought the mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, and other loan-based securities that have declined in value, then banks would resume lending.

But in a stunning change of heart, Paulson decided to use the money to inject capital directly into banks–in particular, by buying their stock. Which also should have had the effect of lifting stock prices.

But the one missing element was that how were we as taxpayers informed of how the lucky TARP fund recipients planning to use the money? Well…we weren’t.

And since this recession is characterized by a lack of confidence amongst lenders and investors, this switch and lack of transparency didn’t help (not to mention the three page summary Paulson gave to congress at first, and yet another “We must do this now or we’ll all die!!” line of reasoning).

Banks are afraid to lend because what if the lendee didn’t pay the loan back? Then the bank may lose capital, may not be able to make their overnight capital requirements, may not be able to get a loan from a fellow commercial bank, and as a result have to shut their doors.

And consumers are still afraid to invest because…well, would you invest in a market led by the current cast of characters? Perhaps for the long term, but if you need your money in the short term, sleeping at night would be rough if you kept your money in this stock market.

Now we’re set to give the Obama administration the remaining TARP money. This time, Obama wants to make the doling and usage of the funds transparent–even allow it all to be trackable online.

So far, Obama has proven to be effective in getting action and getting others to ask “how high?” when he says “jump”.

But will he be able to get Citigroup or JP Morgan to say specifically, for the whole public to see, how they’re using this money?

I’ll be watching how Wall St responds to Obama. So far, we like him…but will the big banks let Obama tickle the soft part of their underbellies while they wag their tails?


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