Video: Are banks risking too little?

By Dylan Ratigan Host, 'The Dylan Ratigan Show,' 4 p.m. ET on msnbc
MSNBC
OPINION

A year ago it was revealed to the American people that our banking system was a legalized Ponzi scheme in which bank and insurance CEOs paid themselves billions of dollars in personal compensation to lend and insure assets with money they didn't have to customers who couldn't pay back the loans.

In those dark days between the fall of Lehman Brothers and before the presidential election, we were often carried through that time by the small glimmer of hope in that at least we would soon have a new leader who would hopefully fix this mess and punish those responsible.

Yet in the past 9 months, not only has the administration not fixed anything, they have made things much worse for anyone who isn't a Wall Street banker. Therefore, we are past the point where anyone in power still gets the benefit of the doubt and the process of taking back our country for all citizens must begin now.

This is why I think we must ask if U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is still the right person for the job. It has become clear recently that back in his previous role as New York Federal Reserve Governor, he unnecessarily gave billions of dollars of U.S. tax money to banks and insurance companies with few strings attached. And it is now becoming clear that his lack of meaningful action is helping many of these same banks steal more by legalizing their most economically dangerous, socially destructive and self-enriching practices.

Yesterday on NBC's Meet the Press, Secretary Geithner again endorsed House bank reform legislation that would allow, by my calculations, as much as 80 percent, or $475 trillion, of the bank's $600 trillion in crooked insurance schemes to still be held in secret. It was and is the secret risks held in this very market that led to our collapse in the first place and continue to pose massive future risk to the global economy.

He also continued to employ the bankers' favorite, and most ludicrous, lie :that the taxpayer must somehow continue to pay executives at companies like AIG ungodly sums of money under the threat that if we don't, somehow the taxpayer will never make their money back. Well let me tell you something, the taxpayer and our nation, will never get back the lost wealth taken under these false circumstances and this colossal breach of fiduciary duty. The idea that we must somehow perpetuate this system with our tax money and the future wealth of our children goes against the very American ideal of failure, adaptation and innovation, not to mention of our democracy.

Also last week, the Treasury Secretary endorsed a piece of legislation that instead of stopping a select few companies from profiting from the implicit taxpayer-guarantee of Too Big Too Fail seeks to officially condone it. If the most prized skill in our society economically is a competition to see who can lend and insure the most money without consequences, you have doomed our nation's people to lose everything in the world's largest ever betting parlor; and that is precisely the system this Treasury Secretary — Tim Geithner — is seeking to legalize in America today.

However, the smoking gun for Secretary Geithner comes from a recent Bloomberg FOIA disclosure regarding events from last November. It was then that New York Federal Reserve Governor Tim Geithner decided to deliver 100 cents on the dollar, in secret no less, to pay off the counter parties to the world's largest (and still un-investigated) insurance fraud — AIG.

This full payoff with taxpayer dollars was carried out by Geithner after AIG's bank customers, such as Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale, had already previously agreed to taking as little as 40 cents on the dollar. Even after the GM autoworkers, bondholders and vendors all received a government-enforced haircut on their contracts, he still had the audacity to claim the "sanctity of contracts" in the dealings with these companies like AIG.

None of us were in the rooms when these decisions were made, so I don't pretend to know if Mr. Geithner was the one lone, sane voice of reason fighting against mysterious forces or the primary proponent. However, I fail to see the reasoning for why we continue to rely on those who were in the room when these horrendous decisions took place to be the same people that we choose to deal with their aftermath. There are just certain situations that are not suited for continuity. The best analogy I can think of is that it would be like asking Al Cowlings to spearhead the Nicole Brown Simpson murder investigation under the premise that he knows the layout and the "players" best.

The fact is that there are people who understand all of the intricacies of finance and policy as well as Secretary Geithner, but whose allegiances to the taxpayer are much clearer. People like Elizabeth Warren, Neil Barofsky, Rob Johnson, and Senator Maria Cantwell just to name a few.

To stop the theft from continuing, it requires that the most basic rules of capitalism be applied to our banks and that our future national wealth be safeguarded by the U.S. Government. The current custodian of America's wealth, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is not doing a good job of either. The time for corrective action is now.

Morning Meeting airs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. ET to 11 a.m. ET on MSNBC.

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