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“Veni, vidi, asswhupus sum” for February 11

Veni, vidi, asswhupus sum. (“I came, I saw, I got my ass whupped.”)

At a closely-watched hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, members of Congress blasted the eight CEOs, including the heads of embattled firms Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) and Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), for their actions since the eight banks collectively received $165 billion in capital last fall.

“Start loaning the money that we gave you. Get it on the street!” said Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass.

(“Bank CEOs flogged in Washington,” CNN Money, February 11) And those bankers state the obvious, the same obvious that I pointed out in my first four myths about the economy, namely that without the TARP funds, credit would be even tighter than it is now.

Okay, I know it’s fashionable to hate bankers, but I watched every minute and these guys did a darn good job. Most of what they said was dead-on correct. I just don’t think they should have taken trains and cars to D.C. instead of private jets. I think they should’ve walked to D.C.. Upside down. On their hands. Naked. With funny fruity colors all over their bodies.

Speaking of funny fruity colors, the folks we elected decide on a stimulus package.

“The differences between the House and Senate versions, we’ve resolved,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, said in a Capitol news conference. The differences were resolved by a lot of intense “give and take,” Mr. Reid said, “and if you don’t mind my saying so, that’s an understatement.”

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was not present at the news conference, even though Mr. Reid praised her effusively for her role in the talks, and House Democrats were reportedly holding out for some changes important to them, including more money for school renovations.

(“Senators Announce Stimulus Agreement,” February 11) It helps at this point to consider Robert Solow’s book-length argument that good economics never makes good politics and good politics never makes good economics. With this compromise plan, if you were expecting either, you got neither.

And speaking of asswhupping, volunteers from all over the world are eagerly volunteering to be first in line at Ruth and Bernie Madoff’s butt kicking party.

Bernard Madoff’s wife Ruth pulled $15.5m out of a Massachusetts brokerage firm that funnelled clients to her husband in the three weeks before his December 11 arrest, according to court documents filed by Massachusetts securities regulators.

Mrs Madoff withdrew $5.5m from Cohmad Securities on November 25 and an additional $10m on December 10, according to two wire transfer receipts attached to a complaint filed by William Galvin, the Massachusetts secretary of state.

Federal investigators have alleged in a criminal complaint that Mr Madoff confessed to his sons on December 10 that he was running a $50bn “Ponzi” scheme and that they turned him in. . . .

Mr Galvin said many of the Massachusetts investors who believe they lost money to Mr Madoff sent their money to the New York broker through Cohmad. Mr Madoff is a co-founder and shareholder of Cohmad. Mr Madoff’s lawyer Ira Sorkin declined to comment.

(“Madoff’s wife took $15.5m ahead of his arrest,” Financial Times, February 11) Here’s an idea for a T-shirt: “I stole $50 billion dollars and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.” That and 15 million dollars in chump change.

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