Some of the largest U.S. banks may be on the ropes these days, but the disparity between the plight of financial executives and ordinary Americans has never been starker. Over the past two decades, the banking system has grown accustomed to scoring massive profits by preying on its own customers, making 2009’s transition to pilfering taxpayer wallets an easy one.
After burying the economy under a mountain of unaffordable debt, bank CEOs are now finding ways to subsidize their own paychecks with taxpayer bailout funds.
Writing for The Nation, Christopher Hayes highlights a letter from a reader who questions malfeasance on the part of Goldman Sachs, which received $10 billion in taxpayer funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Executives at Goldman recently decided to pay back the government before it paid off the investment from billionaire Warren Buffett, even though Buffett is reaping double the interest rate that the government is receiving from Goldman.
The scenario speaks volumes about just how lousy a deal taxpayers got under the bank bailout. Paying Buffett back first would clearly be the better deal for shareholders of the Wall Street titan, as it would save them years of payments at higher interest rates. But Buffett’s plan does not involve the same restrictions on executive compensation that are included under TARP. By prioritizing the TARP repayment, Goldman’s top brass are screwing their own shareholders to guarantee a bigger payday.
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