We’re From The Government And You’re Screwed

Bailout Man Turns the Screws

Late on New Year’s Eve, , a Treasury Department official, sat waiting impatiently for documents to arrive from Citigroup Inc. He’d just been told by the bank’s chief financial officer that Citigroup couldn’t reach some executives who needed to sign the paperwork, including one woman whose husband was in the hospital with a heart attack.

“Well then, you know where to find her,” Mr. Lambright replied to the finance chief, Gary Crittenden, according to three accounts of the call. “Put someone in one of your fancy black cars and get her to sign the document.”

As the government continues to pour cash into the economy, Mr. Lambright, 38 years old, has become one of the most powerful men in American finance. Unknown to most outside the Treasury building, he’s an embodiment of how power in the economy has shifted — for good or ill — to Washington.

. . .

After the government agreed to help, Mr. Lambright’s team had to put flesh on the deal, including compensation curbs for bank executives. Bank of America officials were rankled by the proposed pay restrictions and the 8% interest rate the government planned to charge.

On a conference call with top government and bank officials, Bank of America’s chief financial officer said the deal seemed punitive. Mr. Lambright spoke up. He reminded the CFO that his firm was bleeding outside the emergency room and was seeking help from a government with only blunt instruments at its disposal, according to three people familiar with the call.

“You’re in pain and you have to decide: Does it hurt more to come in or stay out?” Mr. Lambright said, according to those people.

Government officials agreed that they needed to impose restrictions, and in the end, pay limits were set.

See also:
Treasury continues image control
Export bank chief James H. Lambright joins financial rescue team
Treasury Names Interim Chief Investment Officer for TARP
TARP leader Lambright wields power in Washington
James H. Lambright
James H. Lambright

/is it any wonder these banks regret taking the money and can’t pay back the TARP funds fast enough?