Former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair Totally Trashed Vikram Pandit In Her New Book About The Bailout
We cannot wait until former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair gets to tell her side of the story in her new book, Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street From Wall Street and Wall Street From Itself.
First off, Bair clearly did not like Vikram Pandit. Here’s how she describes him when she entered a meeting with the major bank CEOs in October of 2008:
Pandit looked nervous, and no wonder. More than any other institution represented in that room, his bank was in trouble. Frankly, I doubted that he was up to the job. He had been brought in to clean up the mess at Citi. He had gotten the job with the support of Robert Rubin, the former secretary of the Treasury who now served as Citi‘s titular head. I thought Pandit had been a poor choice. He was a hedge fund manager by occupation and one with a mixed record at that. He had no experience as a commercial banker, yet now he was heading one of the biggest banks in the country.
Also at the meeting was Jamie Dimon, who is of course her favorite. After the glowing description below, she later calls him the “grown up in the room”:
The smartest was Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase… Dimon was a towering figure in height as well as leadership ability. He had forewarned of deteriorating conditions in the subprime market in 2006 and had taken preemptive measures to protect his bank before the crisis hit. As a consequence, while other institutions were reeling, mighty J.P. Morgan Chase had scooped up weaker institutions at bargain prices. Several months earlier, at the request of the New York Fed, and with its financial assistance, he had purchased Bear Stearns. A few weeks earlier he had purchased Washington Mutual, a failed West Coast mortgage lender, from us in a competitive process that had required no financial assistance from the government.
And Merrill Lynch’s former CEO John Thaine? Bair didn’t even think he belonged at the meeting — so maybe she disliked him even more than Pandit. This description is pretty brutal:
Merrill’s new CEO, John Thain, stood outside the perimeter of the Dimon-Blankfein-Mack group, trying to listen in. Frankly, I was surprised that he had even been invited. He was younger and less seasoned than the rest of the group. He had been Merrill’s CEO for less than a year. His main accomplishment had been to engineer its overpriced sale to Bank of America. Once the BofA acquisition was complete, he would no longer be CEO, if he survived at all.
Bair goes on to wonder if the government should have given these banks any money at all. She conjectures that all of them, except for Citi, could’ve muddled through — Goldman and Morgan with private money, Merrill through its sale to Bank of America, and as for the rest… they never needed the money.
So what was all this for again?