Friday, January 01, 2010

The Party's Over For The Banksters? Fat Chance. But Sir Status Quo Can Party Heartier Than UK Banksters Today


Somewhere in the back of your unconscious is probably a vague recollection from last year of a Chicago-based outfit called Northern Trust Corp. They got a bit over $1.5 billion in taxpayer bailout money-- and then proceeded to spend it lavishly on some fancy entertainin', primarily on golf and rock. It's unlikely their parties will be featuring live performances by Sheryl Crow and Earth, Wind and Fire this year, or anytime soon.
John Kerry, the Democratic senator, said the parties were an "idiotic abuse of taxpayer money," while Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives' financial services committee, said the celebrations showed "extraordinary levels of irresponsibility and arrogance."

Rick Waddell, Northern Trust's chairman and chief executive, admitted that the scandal contributed to the general antipathy towards banks.

"It was a part, along with all the other incidents," he told the Financial Times. "There's almost not one large institution that has been spared the focus of the media or Congress. In the financial system clearly there were excesses. There's plenty of blame to go around."

Mr Waddell said the bank "clearly misjudged the political environment." But he added: "The political environment in Washington was that they were looking for targets."

Northern Trust will continue to fulfill its sponsorship obligations next year, Mr Waddell said, but in a more humble manner.

"We're not having any live entertainment," he said. "It's going to be more of a traditional hospitality event. We've pared our budget back."

In the same issue of the Financial Times I read on the plane back from London today, I also read about how the Labour Government in London didn't much feel like having banksters knighted this year. "The CBE for Dyfrig John, who retired as chief executive of HSBC Bank in March, is the only high-profile gong for a sector still seen as politically toxic. Executives from banks that needed multi-billion pound taxpayer bail-outs are notable by their absence."

Good that the English are at least not celebrating the banksters, but when Roland asked me if I'm planning to see Wall Street 2, I said, "No, unless I hear it ends with firing squads." That isn't likely-- unless the banksters get to put the rest of us up against walls more literally than they've already been doing! Here in the U.S., banksters have the power. I'd like to say they have power despite the Obama administration and a Democratic Congress, but let's face it, even without the Rahm Emanuel factor, our entire political establishment is a bought-out/sold-out mess, enslaved to Wall Street. That's the true nature of bipartisanship these days. And it's why Blue America will endorse no incumbents who aren't co-sponsors of HR 1826 or S 752 (the twin Fair Election Now bills) and will endorse no challengers who don't pledge to cosponsor the legislation once they take office.

And it's why Queen Elizabeth is knighting Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo instead of a bunch of greasy banksters. You may like Camper Van Beethoven's version better-- or even the one Ozzy did for the Howard Stern movie-- but "Pictures of Matchstick Men" from Picturesque started life as a 1968 hit by The Status Quo, a band not all that well known in the U.S. but, believe it or not, with more chart hits in the U.K. than any other rock group in history! (More on knighthoods for rockers.)

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At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Ignobility said...

Love Mr. Waddell's ethics. The reason the party was a bad idea: the political climate. And, bankers were targets. Sheesh!

At 4:16 AM, Anonymous hs said...

No doubt the Quo are relieved that Her Maj did NOT knight them today. Who would want to be in the musical company of Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney - not to mention Sir Mick Jagger?

At 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch Status Quo, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.


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