Sanford Weill led Citigroup during its sleaziest of years. He got off on mergers, deregulation, and government bailouts, especially when his bank was raking in mucho dough. He was silent in the dawn of Dodd-Frank. And yet, once the idea of breaking up the banks became popular, he suddenly became its biggest advocate. The worst part is, too many people are falling for his bull***t. As Matt Taibbi put it in his latest screed about Weill:
Dude, are you high? You invented Too Big To Fail!” would have been the proper response – followed hopefully by a spirited lunge across the set to beat Weill repeatedly about the neck and head with a Swingline stapler, until he screeched out a tearful apology to every last living soul on earth.
Weill is not the only banker to make this shift. Former executives like Philip J. Purcell and Sallie Krawcheck are also part of the “corner office to Zuccotti Park” movement. As Jesse Eisinger writes in a Thursday New York Times op-ed, the only reason why these hypocrites are speaking out against big banking now is because they are finished sucking the life out of them:
As every frustrated American knows, no major banking executive has gone to prison or has been fined any significant amount in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
But what’s astonishing is that Wall Street bankers seem not to have paid any social cost either. They sit on corporate and nonprofit boards and attend functions and galas. They remain top Wall Street executives, or even serve as regulators. The nation’s prominent op-ed pages, talk shows and conferences seek their opinions. If you are rich, you must be intelligent. Your views must be worthwhile, never mind the track record.
Sandy Weill was a deal maker who aspired to more. He had a vision to create a financial supermarket. The scrappy public school graduate from the streets of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn realized his dream and created Citigroup.
What’s a guy gotta do around here to lose a little credibility?