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Obama's Top Economic Adviser Is Greedy and Highly Compromised

Among the payoffs Larry Summers received: $45K from Merrill Lynch days before he joined Obama's team. And it gets worse.

"But Summers, a leading architect of the administration's economic policies and response to the global recession, appears to have collected the most income. Financial institutions including JP Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch paid Summers for speaking appearances in 2008. Fees ranged from $45,000 for a Nov. 12 Merrill Lynch appearance to $135,000 for an April 16 visit to Goldman Sachs, according to his disclosure form." --

So I guess that $45,000 speaking fee from Merrill Lynch wasn't technically a bribe because Summers wasn't named to Obama's economic transition team until Nov. 24 — a full 12days later. I'm sure Larry Summers had absolutely no inkling whatsoever that he was going to be one of the key advisers to the new administration on Nov. 12.

It likewise makes perfect sense that Merrill Lynch, a company just months removed from having to be rescued from bankruptcy by an 11th-hour, pseudo-state-subsidized buyout by Bank of America, would decide to spend $45,000 on a speaking appearance by Summers because, well, they really valued his economic expertise and his proven ability to rally the troops with his stirring rhetoric.

It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that a) it was eight days after a Democrat was elected to the presidency; b) Summers had a long history of being one of the key policymakers in Democratic Party politics; and c) Merrill was absolutely not going to survive more than a few more months unless taxpayers forked over another 20 billion or so to cover the giant hole in Merrill's balance sheet that was, at that time, still being hidden from Bank of America and its shareholders.

And how about that $135,000 appearance for Goldman Sachs in April, when Summers was already involved with Democratic Party politics again? That wasn't a surreptitious campaign contribution at all!

But you have to give Goldman credit: it sure is thorough. It literally leaves no stone unturned.

One has to love the sequence of events here. Back in 2004, Goldman chief Hank Paulson goes to SEC chief William Donaldson and petitions to have lending restrictions relaxed for the top five investment banks. Donaldson rolls over, the restrictions are relaxed, and it's a disaster, as the top five banks immediately overleverage themselves — two of the five, Bear Stearns and Lehman, would actually collapse, at least partially as a result of being insanely overleveraged.

In the midst of this disaster, Paulson is named Treasury secretary. He does nothing about the worsening financial crisis until it is far too late, then allows one of Goldman's biggest competitors, Lehman, to fail while at the same time intervening on a huge scale to save AIG, which just happens to owe Goldman a ton of money.

When AIG is bailed out, its government regulator is not in the room, but the new chief of Goldman, Lloyd Blankfein, is. In fact, Goldman Sachs ultimately receives about $13 billion of the money paid to AIG by the government in the bailout, reportedly getting paid 100 cents on the dollar for its AIG exposure, despite the fact that the bank claimed it wasn't going to suffer severe losses if AIG collapsed.

Later, another former Goldman executive, Ed Liddy, is installed as head of AIG -- which just happens to get bailed out twice more, the last time to the tune of $30 billion.

The last two bailouts of AIG take place after a former Goldman chief, Robert Rubin (who, incidentally, helped start this mess by ramming through a series of i-banker wet-dream deregulatory moves as Treasury secretary for Clinton in the 1990s), is named to the Obama transition team, joining Summers (who had already taken $135,000 from Goldman that year) and Timothy Geithner (a protege of another Goldman alum, John Thain, former president and chief operating officer and notorious scumbag).

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