The Economic Dictators
This month, The Atlantic carries a fairly chilling account of how former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke bullied Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis into going forward with the Merrill Lynch merger...even though Lewis feared it might be disastrous for his company. To me, it reads like something out of Atlas Shrugged, with Paulson and Bernanke taking turns playing the role of Economic Dictator Wesley Mouch. The account is based on depositions of Paulson and Lewis:Who knew? Chicago politicians are indistinguishable from the villains in Atlas Shrugged.
Paulson—known as “The Hammer” since his days on the offensive line at Dartmouth—did not mince words with Lewis. “I’m going to be very blunt,” he said, according to Lewis’s deposition. “We’re very supportive of Bank of America and we want to be of help, but the government does not feel it’s in your best interest for you to call a MAC.” According to Lewis, Paulson told him the government felt “so strongly” about this that he said, “We would remove the board and management” if Lewis tried to invoke it. At that, a shaken Lewis stood down again.
Hat tip: Jack Frake
Crossposted at The Dougout