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Thread: Lawrence B. Lindsey on US Crony Capitalism

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    Default Lawrence B. Lindsey on US Crony Capitalism

    Excellent video of Lawrence B. Lindsey, ex-Governor of the Federal Reserve System from 1991 to 1997, on CNBC followed by an article on Paulson and crony capitalism in which he is quoted.

    Hat tip to member LargoWinch for the video!

    (Note: the article is no longer available, not even in a cache on google. Maybe accusing the head of the US Treasury of crony-ism isn't good business for the Sun-Times.)
    Crony image dogs Paulson's rescue effort
    Published: 12:00 AM Jul 17,2008
    Chicago Sun-Times by ROBERT NOVAK

    As financial storm signals appeared the last 18 months, some Bush officials urged drastic reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But according to internal government sources, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson objected because it would l...
    Lucky for iTulip readers, we kept a copy. As far as we know this is the only place where you can read it.
    Crony image dogs Paulson's rescue effort
    July 17, 2008 (ROBERT NOVAK - Chicago Sun-Times)

    As financial storm signals appeared the last 18 months, some Bush officials urged drastic reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But according to internal government sources, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson objected because it would look "too political." The Republican administration kept hands off the government-backed mortgage companies that are closely tied to the Democrats.

    Paulson is a Republican, but as head of the Goldman Sachs investment bank, he had close ties with Democratic-dominated Fannie Mae. After prominent Democrat James A. Johnson left Fannie after eight years as chairman and CEO, he was named head of Goldman Sachs' compensation committee, helping set Paulson's abundant salary there.

    That connection clearly was not enough for Paulson to consider recusing himself from dealing with the crisis threatening Fannie, Freddie and the whole American economy. He structured the bailout and was on the phone last weekend encouraging leading investment bankers to buy Freddie Mac bonds. Financial consultant Lawrence Lindsey, President Bush's former national economic director, told clients Sunday, "Surely things are somewhat amiss when a country's finance minister plays bond salesman for a supposedly privately owned company."

    Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, Paulson stressed the U.S. would purchase assets only if necessary. But relying on investment bankers could be awkward for Paulson because of indiscreet jubilation from his old company. "This is our bailout," a senior Goldman Sachs official told a Wall Street colleague this week, suggesting the firm will cherry-pick for mortgage bargains.

    The only senior executive branch officials who expressed alarm about overextended Fannie and Freddie were former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, and their warnings were shrugged off.

    It was worse on Capitol Hill. Former Rep. Richard Baker could not find a single House co-sponsor for his reform bill. He lost his bid to become ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee though he had seniority, and then retired from Congress to become a lobbyist. Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel had trouble finding other Senate supporters of Baker's bill.

    Baker, Hagel and Sen. Richard Shelby, ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, were rare members of committees with jurisdiction who took the issue seriously. The powerhouse Democratic overseers of the banking committees -- Rep. Barney Frank, Sen. Christopher Dodd and Sen. Chuck Schumer -- protected Fannie and Freddie.

    Tuesday's hearing was more than an hour old when Hagel became the first senator to ask whether the well-paid officials and directors of the mortgage companies should be held accountable. "I'm not looking for scapegoats," Paulson replied.

    Many of Paulson's non-scapegoats have traveled a familiar path from modest net worth to sudden wealth at the mortgage companies, especially Fannie Mae. Most have been Democrats, but token Republicans also have enjoyed the profitable ride. It is an old story, well described in "Crony Capitalism: American Style" by financial affairs reporter Owen Ullman in the July-August 1999 issue of the International Economy magazine. He portrayed rich "rewards" for fortunate insiders.

    In that article, former Treasury official Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute saw Fannie and Freddie posing a "prescription for financial disaster," similar to the savings-and-loan debacle a decade earlier. Will Paulson follow Wallison's advice and put the mortgage companies in federal receivership at the expense of shareholders? Wall Street tycoon Hank Paulson was the secretary of the treasury that Bush finally found on his third try. Now, grumbling has begun inside the Senate Republican Conference. The grumblers are asking whether Paulson will prove more than a crony in this crisis.

    Lawrence B. Lindsey
    Larry Lindsey is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Lindsey Group. He has held leading positions in government, academia, and business. Prior to forming The Lindsey Group, he held the position of Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council at the White House and was the chief economic adviser to candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 Presidential campaign.

    Dr. Lindsey also served as a Governor of the Federal Reserve System from 1991 to 1997, as Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Economic Policy during the first Bush Administration, and as Senior Staff Economist for Tax Policy at the Council of Economic Advisers during President Reagan's first term. Dr. Lindsey served five years on the Economics faculty of Harvard University and held the Arthur F. Burns Chair for Economic Research at the American Enterprise Institute. From 1997 until 2001 he was Managing Director of Economic Strategies, a global consulting firm.

    Dr. Lindsey earned his A.B. Magna Cum Laude from Bowdoin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He was awarded the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award by the National Tax Association and named the Citicorp Wriston Fellow for Economic Research at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of numerous articles and three books: The Growth Experiment, Economic Puppet Masters and What a President Should Know...but Most Learn Too Late.
    Last edited by FRED; 08-19-08 at 06:22 PM.

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