Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Home Is Where the TARP Is, John Mack Discovers

Word has it that Morgan Stanley wants to break up with the Treasury Department by returning all the money it got under the TARP Capital Purchase Program. Perhaps demonstrations by a housing group called NACA are helping Morgan Stanley's CEO, John Mack, fall out of love with the $10 billion he got from Hank Paulson.

Last weekend NACA protestors visited Mack's home in Rye, New York, chanting and sporting T-shirts that said, "Shame On You, CEO." Despite the fact that this slogan doesn't even rhyme - (I suggest "Yo, CEO! Your bonus must go!") - I suspect this unpleasantness will make Mr. Mack even more anxious to yank the Marie Antoinette wig off his head and give it back to Kirsten Dunst, who looked damn cute in it in that movie.

Much as Morgan Stanley would like to throw the money back at the Treasury Department like a woman hurling her engagement ring at her ex-fiance, the best Mr. Mack could muster - according to reports from a special shareholder meeting - was a lame statement that they hope to begin paying it off "as soon at it is feasible."

Goldman Sachs feels the same way. Its CFO, David Viniar, said so while speaking at a conference last week. Among the TARP features that Goldman isn't crazy about, Viniar hinted, are the executive compensation restrictions (though he termed them "minor," which they still are for most TARP recipients, despite all the fuss). When will Goldman pay back its $10 billion? "As soon as we can," said Viniar.

Let's put "as soon as we can" on a T-shirt, and then everyone can wear it when their mortgage lenders or credit card companies request a payment.

p.s.: Since I lacked the foresight to clear today's schedule for Tim Geithner's "moment in the sun," I probably won't post about it until tomorrow, by which time every other human being in North America will have blogged, tweeted, podcast or penned a haiku about the revamped bailout program. Please know that this will not discourage me.

Image source: people.com