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May 20, 2011

Geithner as matinee idol

TimGeithnerAs regular readers know, I have long thought that Timothy Geithner is in over his head as Treasury Secretary.

So, it stands to reason that many people continue to listen carefully to what he says, this time at the opening of the new HBO film based on Andrew Ross Sorkin's book about the most recent financial crisis, Too Big to Fail.

"You can't prevent people from making mistakes," observed Geithner philosophically. "Taking too much risk and making stupid mistakes may not be a crime."

Yeah, right. Try to persuade Jeff Skilling of that.

The reality is that there isn't much difference between the way in which Geithner and Skilling reacted to their respective crisis. Yet one remains in one of the most powerful positions in government, while the other wastes away in a prison cell.

There is simply no rational basis for the disparate treatment of these two men.

Posted by Tom at May 20, 2011 12:01 AM |


Skilling was found:
guilty on one count of conspiracy
guilty on one count of insider trading
guilty on five counts of making false statements to auditors
guilty on twelve counts of securities fraud

He certainly was a risk taker, and selling off $60 million dollars of Enron stock just prior to the company declaring bankruptcy must have struck the jury as an inappropriate response to his own personal crisis.

Posted by: Bill McWilliams Author Profile Page at May 20, 2011 9:05 AM

Bill, Skilling was prosecuted only for an approximate $15 million sale of Enron stock that he initiated after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, and over a month after he had left Enron.

Skilling's alleged false statements to auditors and relating to alleged securities fraud pale in comparison to the dubious statements that Mr. Geithner has made during and after the financial crisis on Wall Street.

Posted by: Tom K. Author Profile Page at May 20, 2011 2:37 PM

IMHO, Mr. Skilling was a crook who is close to being partially let off the hook and Mr. Geithner is a corrupt public servant (sic).

Posted by: Bill McWilliams Author Profile Page at May 20, 2011 4:32 PM

No meaningful evidence exists that Skilling is a crook or that Geithner is corrupt. Both men took calculated risks in an effort to serve their constituents' interests with varying degrees of success. Criminalizing those efforts serves no useful public policy.

Posted by: Tom K. Author Profile Page at May 20, 2011 8:25 PM

I understand your position. I just happen to agree with the jury's view of the evidence in the case against Skilling.

I called Geithner corrupt precisely because of his
"service" to his constituents on Wall Street, at the expense of ordinary citizens on Main Street.

Posted by: Bill McWilliams Author Profile Page at May 20, 2011 10:13 PM

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