An insider account of the White House’s response to the financial crisis reveals a president so inexperienced, amateurish, and radical that he proposed “dissolving” (nationalizing) Citigroup. The ideaa was so absurd that even Timothy Geithner could see that would not have helped in restoring stability to the world’s financial system, and the order was ignored.
Anthony McCartney of AP summarizes parts of a new book, “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and The Education of A President,” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Suskind:
…Geithner and the Treasury Department ignored a March 2009 order to consider dissolving banking giant Citigroup while continuing stress tests on banks, which were burdened with toxic mortgage assets.
In the book, Obama does not deny Suskind’s account, but does not reveal what he told Geithner when he found out. “Agitated may be too strong a word,” Suskind quotes Obama as saying. Obama says later in the book that he was trying to be decisive but “the speed with which the bureaucracy could exercise my decision was slower than I wanted.” (snip)
“The Citbank incident, and others like it, reflected a more pernicious and personal dilemma emerging from inside the administration: that the young president’s authority was being systematically undermined or hedged by his seasoned advisers,” Suskind writes.
Suskind states that Obama accepts the blame for mismanagement in his administration while noting that restructuring the financial system was complicated and could have resulted in deeper financial harm. One of the majorcomplaints about Obama’s administration is that it was too easy on major financial institutions, including Citi. The president had wanted Treasury officials to focus on a proposal to dissolve the bank, but no plan was ever created….