14 April 2009

People Bloomberg Likes

From the NY Times:

Much Vilified, Financial Titans Find a Friend in Bloomberg


Gov. Jon S. Corzine is suing Lehman Brothers, saying the firm shortchanged New Jersey’s pension funds. Most members of New York’s Congressional delegation pushed for a 90 percent tax on American International Group bonuses. Politicians in Albany and beyond have pushed through income tax increases on the wealthy.

But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is having none of that.

Declaring that “we love the rich people,” Mr. Bloomberg has opposed capping executive pay, increasing the capital gains tax or raising income taxes on the wealthy. He has gushed about Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, saying he “walks on water,” and praised Henry M. Paulson Jr.’s Goldman Sachs résumé.

Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire many times over, has also vouched for vilified Wall Street titans like Richard S. Fuld Jr., the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers.

“There’s Lehman Brothers, who I feel very sorry for,” he said during a news conference. “Dick Fuld, I’ve known for 40 years, who’s a competent guy, and people are criticizing him. They didn’t criticize him when things were going well for an awful lot of years.”

Mr. Bloomberg has emerged as perhaps the foremost defender of the financial industry in the political world, while other elected leaders seize on the populist anger over the economy and executive compensation...

“When the economy is bad, people are angry, and they look to politicians to mirror that anger, and it creates a problem for Bloomberg because he cannot be an ‘I feel your pain’ candidate,” said Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College. “I think he’s gentler on people in the private sector on whom, in his view, the city is dependent. He just holds his tongue.”...

And, exercising a reflex that he most notably displayed in 2006, when he defended Con Edison’s embattled chief executive, Kevin M. Burke, after a series of blackouts, Mr. Bloomberg has routinely applauded top management. His signature expression of approval is to call an executive a “competent guy.”

When asked in September about the A.I.G. bailout, he mentioned that he had talked to Robert B. Willumstad, the company’s former chief executive. “I feel sorry for him,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “He didn’t have a chance to really make a difference. He’s a very competent guy.”

When asked last month about the fate of General Motors, Mr. Bloomberg hailed the man helping to shape White House policy, Steven Rattner, an investment banker whose firm, the Quadrangle Group, manages Mr. Bloomberg’s wealth. “One of the people is a friend of mine — Steve Rattner — he’s a phenomenally competent guy.

Mr. Bloomberg has also declined to criticize federal officials who have overseen the markets — not Mr. Paulson, not Mr. Geithner, not Christopher Cox, the much-maligned former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“I think Tim Geithner is exactly the guy that I would want there,” he said on “Meet the Press” last month. “He’s smart, he is a workaholic, he’s been there, he’s been part of the financial system for a long time, he understands how things work, how markets work, how people react.”...

“You know, the yelling and screaming about the rich, we want the rich from around this country to move here,” he said during his weekly radio program on March 6. “We love the rich people.”

He was one of the few politicians who questioned making the names of A.I.G. bonus recipients public, arguing that privacy was paramount. He criticized Congress for being rash in drafting the A.I.G. bonus tax bill, and suggested that members were hypocritical for taking money from the financial industry with one hand while slapping it with the other...

No one would ever accuse Mr. Bloomberg, who is drawing a token salary of $1 a year, of pursuing public office for personal gain. But Eduardo Castell, who is managing City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr.’s mayoral campaign, noted that Mr. Bloomberg had an extra incentive, perhaps, to cheer on the financial services industry, since the fortunes of his own company, Bloomberg L.P., hinge in part on other companies’ staying healthy and subscribing to the firm’s financial data terminals.

Think the mayor supports you? Likes you?

Know what I think of Bloomberg? I think he's a real "competent guy."

1 comment:

bigmissfrenchie said...

I am SO over Bloomberg. I hate him almost as much as I hated Guiliani, and that's saying a lot. I think I may go insane if I have to see his commercial for the next 5 months, telling us how "folksy" he is. His legacy will be a New York completely devoid of the character that once made it the greatest city in the world. Good job Mayor Mike! And by the way, it's illegal for you to run again. I don't understand why someone doesn't do something about it. Ugh.