Já tratei dos executivos da equipa económica de Obama em vários episódios. Hoje vou tratar da equipa consultiva. Se a equipa executiva é um desapontamento para o lunatismo obamófilo e um relativo conforto para um largo espectro de mentes realistas, a nomeação da equipa consultiva será pouco menos do que um acto de alta traição para o lunatismo obamófilo e é um motivo de preocupação para as mentes realistas. Vou dar a palavra a David Weidner do MarketWatch do Wall Street Journal sobre os três campos da equipa económica de Obama Barack.
Obama, perhaps unknowingly, has divided his economic team into three camps:
- There are the smart, successful outside-the-box thinkers such as Google Inc.'s, Eric Schmidt, Anne Mulcahy of Xerox Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s Warren Buffett.
- There are the Clinton retreads, including Roel Campos, the former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, Robert Reich, the former labor secretary, former advisers Daniel Tarulio, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, and the list goes on.
- And then there are the what-was-he-thinking picks: Dick Parsons, the former Time Warner Inc. chief executive and current Citigroup Inc. board member who is known for presiding over the most lackluster media company during one of the most robust economies in a generation.
But the real head scratcher is Robert Rubin, who has held top roles at Citigroup since 1999. A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker, Rubin served as Treasury secretary during both Clinton terms.
Rubin is the Mole of today's economic crisis. Given the opportunity to protect the country from deregulation of financial services, at Treasury he worked with then-Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to redesign or roll back Depression-era reforms.
Of course, the greatest beneficiary of deregulation was Citigroup. Formed in 1998 through the merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group, the new company combined some of America's biggest banks, investment banks and insurance companies under one roof.
A job at Citi
So, when Rubin decided to step down at Treasury, yielding that post to Larry Summers, it wasn't long before Citi's chairman and chief executive, Sandy Weill, came calling. He offered Wall Street's equivalent of a no-show job. Rubin worked in the office of the chairman and led Citigroup's executive committee. He was paid $115 million over nine years.
Now, the government has been forced to invest $45 billion in Citigroup and backstop $270 billion of its $2 trillion balance sheet. How does Rubin respond when critics say he should bear some responsibility?
"Nobody was prepared for this," he told The Wall Street Journal. Was he overpaid? "I bet there's not a single year where I couldn't have gone somewhere else and made more," he said.
Along with Vikram Pandit, Citi's current CEO, Rubin seems to think that the whole system broke, not institutions. "This was something that was bigger than Citi," Pandit said.
Except, of course, that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is OK, and so are Wells Fargo Corp. and BB&T Corp., along with other banks that were wise enough not to boost short-term profits through derivatives at the risk of long-term survival.
This stubborn denial that people such as Rubin, Parsons and Pandit show is troubling enough. That two of those executives are advising the man who pledged to lead us out of this mess is terrifying.
Michael Bloomberg, New York's mayor, and Bill Gross, the Pimco fund manager, are two people who have volunteered to help. Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, and Charles Calomiris, the controversial business-school professor at Columbia University, are still working their day jobs.
It's true, Mr. President-elect, that none of these candidates has the kind of government experience that your advisory panel has, but at some point fresh voices have to be more than just token members of the team; they have to actually lead.
Isn't that why we hired you?