Thursday, October 23, 2008
It's not clear who put on the most pathetic display today at the just-concluded committee hearing dubbed "The Role of Federal regulators in the Financial Crisis" - former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan or Rep John Mica (R-Florida) who, along with others, sought to transform the meeting into a discussion of GSE oversight or the lack thereof.
Shown above next to Mr. Greenspan is Mr. Mica about to tape a sheet of paper in front of his microphone to remind attendees and viewers that the meeting on the GSE's role in the financial crisis is not scheduled until November 20th - after the election.
Some highlights, during which former Treasury Secretary John Snow makes his most profound comment during the entire hearing:
Mica: Do you know what comes before November 20th?The Florida Congressman then went on to ask a number of rhetorical questions about lobbying money spent by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Countrywide's preferential treatment meted out for Democratic senators, and campaign contributions directed toward Democrats, addressing former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan as Mr. Bernanke in the process.
Snow: The 19th.
Mica: Of course as you might recall, it's a little thing called the election and we wouldn't want the trail to lead to people who have done the wrong things. What we don't want is for this committee to hold people who started this whole mess accountable. What we've been doing is tip-toeing around the tulips, when somebody's driven a bulldozer through our financial garden.
I have some questions for you...
By comparison, the former Fed chairman came off looking quite good.
This has got to be one of the saddest displays of partisan politics in Washington, a system that often times places a much higher priority on assigning blame to the folks on the other side of the aisle rather than attempting to understand the problems they are charged with solving.
Let's be clear. There is plenty of blame to go around here - Alan Greenspan, Fannie and Freddie, Countrywide, hedge funds (also scheduled for after the election), rating agencies, the SEC, individual homeowners, Wall Street firms ... the list is very long.
There will be more on this later today as there were a number of memorable interchanges and some revealing responses from the former Fed chairman.