WSJ: Bankers Admit to Holding Economy Hostage

| Tue Mar. 24, 2009 10:32 AM EDT

If you have a chance, read this Wall Street Journal piece (via Hilzoy) about how bankers' feelings are really hurt because some people said some really mean things about them and how the Obama Administration is trying to make nice so everyone can work together to save the economy. If you look closely, you'll find all the evidence you need to indefinitely detain these Wall Street clowns on an extrajudicial island in the Caribbean.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his colleagues worked the phones to try to line up support on Wall Street for the plan announced Monday.... Some bankers say they turned the conversations into complaints about the antibonus crusade consuming Capitol Hill. Some have begun "slow-walking" the information previously sought by Treasury for stress-testing financial institutions, three bankers say, and considered seeking capital from hedge funds and private-equity funds so they could return federal bailout money, thereby escaping federal restrictions....

And later on:

Bankers were shell-shocked, especially when Congress moved to heavily tax bonuses. When administration officials began calling them to talk about the next phase of the bailout, the bankers turned the tables. They used the calls to lobby against the antibonus legislation, Wall Street executives say. Several big firms called Treasury and White House officials to urge a more reasonable approach, both sides say. The banks' message: If you want our help to get credit flowing again to consumers and businesses, stop the rush to penalize our bonuses.

You probably don't need anyone to interpret that for you, but here's what it says: bankers are holding the economy hostage until they're promised their six-figure bonuses won't be touched. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being lost every month because rich jerks can't figure out how they'd live without things like $87,000 area rugs.

Hilzoy calls it shameful. Ezra calls it unpatriotic. I think it ought to be criminal. I know "rank populism" is considered gauche in this country, but at times like these I wish I owned a pitchfork and the right to use it.