The fundamental divide in opinion regarding our financial system is: Are the people running “large integrated financial groups” hapless fools, buffeted by forces beyond their comprehension and control; or do they know exactly how to ensure they get the upside and the awful, sickening downside is borne by society – including through high unemployment.
Some light was shed on this issue by Monday’s meeting at the White House or, more specifically, by who didn’t turn up and why. Of the dozen bank CEOs invited, Vikram Pandit was supposedly busy trying to extricate Citi from TARP and asked Dick Parsons to attend instead – a wimpy but smart move, as Parsons is close to the President.
However, three executives – Lloyd Blankfein, John Mack, and Dick Parsons himself – did not show up in person and had to join by conference call. Their excuse was bad weather (fog) in DC meant that they were unable to fly in; Mack was quoted as saying, regarding their absence, “It’s certainly not for a lack of effort“.
But really there are three possible interpretations: Continue reading