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February 12, 2009

Like A Locked Vault


The expectation yesterday was that the top bank CEO’s would be feeling the pain under withering criticism from the House Financial Services Committee. Not that the day was a picnic, but that expectation wasn’t even close.

These guys, in contrast to the auto executives who received the same treatment recently, are a breed apart. They were steady, incredibly well coached, non-defensive and quick firing with all kinds of data. If anyone was chafing around the edges a bit, it was Ken Lewis of B of A, fifth from the right. You can see the anger in his eyes, for example, as he responds to harsh treatment from Congressman Maxine Waters over post-TARP increases in credit card rates.

Otherwise, the photo above earned the honors in illustrating the NYT hearing write-up because of Wells Fargo CEO John G. Stumpf (closest to us.) Embodying the crew, he’s forward leaning; serious; otherwise unemotional; and, there’s not a hair out of place.


Update 12 pm

I’m just looking at the really interesting edit fronting today’s NYT.

Combining their shot selection (Goldman Sachs’s Blankfein and Pandit of Citi gesturing forcefully, Pandit aggressively, and Lewis of B of A seeming to hold back his temper) with the point in the caption that lawmakers were (largely) measured in their questioning, the sense is not just that the bankers held their own.

The sense is that the banker not just held the upper hand, but that the lawmakers (which would also speak to their intermittent angry grandstanding) might have even been intimidated.

(click to expand)

Maxine Waters Grilling Corrupt Bank CEOs Feb 11 2009 (MSNBC via YouTube)

House Financial Services Cmte. Hearing on TARP Funds (part 1 & 2 -C-SPAN)

(image 1: Doug Mills/The New York Times. caption: Executives from the financial institutions who received funds from the $700 billion banking bailout faced their critics on the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday in Washington. The chief executives at the hearing are: Kenneth D. Lewis of Bank of America, Robert P. Kelly of Bank of New York Mellon, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup, Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, John J. Mack of Morgan Stanley, Ronald E. Logue of State Street, and John G. Stumpf of Wells Fargo. images 2-4 Doug Mills/NYT.)

  • Ralph

    Bookends – What about the guy on the other end, same serious look, but not a hair in place.

  • Gasho

    What I noticed was that there seemed to be a “copy/paste” effect to the gentlemen. It mimics a photoshop job. One guy leaning forward another slightly back and the third with hands up — repeat. see the echo?
    what does it mean?
    hell if I know.

  • yg

    to quote michael moore:
    Stupid White Men.

  • doublyintegrated InertialGuide

    ’”An’ it recogniz’ de impotenz uv keepin’ ouah teme in place as we go tru’ wi’dis’in’g’rashun.”
    -James Gorman, co-president of Morgan Stanley

  • lahru

    as I look at the photo it would not be surprising to see lazerbeams come out of BOA prez’ eyes and skewer Maxine in the head……

  • stevelaudg

    Class Picture of a Board of Directors meeting of the good ship Titanic.

  • Alan

    I see disdain. I’ll bet they’re thinking how wrong it is that they should be subjected to any kind of questioning by these grubby little Congressgnats, who think they have some power but have to go crawling around on their knees every two years, grubbing spare change so they can get re-elected. It must be galling.

  • yg

    i remember when maxine waters threatened to nationalize the oil companies during congressional hearings. sent rightwing radio into a tizzy. i’m not saying that comment caused it, but not long afterwards, gas prices went down. threats of investigations probably also helped.

  • Stewart Dean

    If you need your sense of fury ratcheted up, I commend this speech
    by the Chairman of Wells Fargo back in November in which he gleefully and with great pride recounts how he spent his whole banking career working to vitiate, end-run and destroy the safeguards put in place on banks in the Great Depression. Not one of thew audience questions challenged him on this.

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