In an article published today in The Observer, it is reported that Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee of the TARP program, will issue a report this week calling for the ouster of the chief executives of Citigroup, AIG and other institutions which have received government bailout funds.
Additionally, Professor Warren is reportedly also set to call for shareholders in those institutions to be "wiped out". "It is crucial for these things to happen," she said. "Japan tried to avoid them and just offered subsidy with little or no consequences for management or equity investors, and this is why Japan suffered a lost decade."
The article goes further:
Warren also believes there are "dangers inherent" in the approach taken by treasury secretary Tim Geithner, who she says has offered "open-ended subsidies" to some of the world's biggest financial institutions without adequately weighing potential pitfalls. "We want to ensure that the treasury gives the public an alternative approach," she said, adding that she was worried that banks would not recover while they were being fed subsidies. "When are they going to say, enough?" she said.
She said she did not want to be too hard on Geithner but that he must address the issues in the report. "The very notion that anyone would infuse money into a financially troubled entity without demanding changes in management is preposterous."
Professor Warren is, sadly, a rare case of a government official who takes her oversight responsibilities seriously and is willing to speak the truth publicly. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in Congress, the administration and the press. In this regard, the case of Brooksley Born and her attempts to regulate derivatives swaps cannot be overlooked. It turns out that Brooksley Born had perfect foresight, but her warnings fell on deaf ears.