Matt Taibbi Asks Why The Fed Gave $220 Million In Bailout Money To The Wives Of Two Morgan Stanley "Bigwigs"

Tyler Durden's picture

Matt Taibbi has resurfaced with another stunner of Wall Street impropriety which will lead to merely more silence, even more unanswered questions and be quickly buried by the kleptocratic oligarchy.

The Real Housewives of Wall Street: Look Who's Cashing In On the Bailout

Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs?

From Rolling Stone Magazine

In August 2009, John Mack,
at the time still the CEO of Morgan Stanley, made an interesting life
decision. Despite the fact that he was earning the comparatively low
salary of just $800,000, and had refused to give himself a bonus in the
midst of the financial crisis, Mack decided to buy himself a gorgeous
piece of property — a 107-year-old limestone carriage house on the Upper
BeerEast Side of New York, complete with an indoor 12-car garage, that
had just been sold by the prestigious Mellon family for $13.5 million.
Either Mack had plenty of cash on hand to close the deal, or he got some
help from his wife, Christy, who apparently bought the house with him.

The Macks make for an interesting couple. John, a Lebanese-American
nicknamed "Mack the Knife" for his legendary passion for firing people,
has one of the most recognizable faces on Wall Street, physically
resembling a crumpled, half-burned baked potato with a pair of
overturned furry horseshoes for eyebrows. Christy is thin, blond and
rich — a sort of still-awake Sunny von Bulow with hobbies. Her major
philanthropic passion is endowments for alternative medicine, and she
has attained the level of master at Reiki, the Japanese practice of
"palm healing." The only other notable fact on her public résumé is that
her sister was married to Charlie Rose.

It's hard to imagine a pair of people you would less want to
hand a giant welfare check to — yet that's exactly what the Fed did.
Just two months before the Macks bought their fancy carriage house in
Manhattan, Christy and her pal Susan launched their investment
initiative called Waterfall TALF. Neither seems to have any experience
whatsoever in finance, beyond Susan's penchant for dabbling in
thoroughbred racehorses. But with an upfront investment of $15 million,
they quickly received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which
they used to purchase student loans and commercial mortgages. The loans
were set up so that Christy and Susan would keep 100 percent of any
gains on the deals, while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer)
would eat 90 percent of the losses. Given out as part of a bailout
program ostensibly designed to help ordinary people by kick-starting
consumer lending, the deals were a classic heads-I-win, tails-you-lose

So how did the government come to address a financial crisis caused
by the collapse of a residential-mortgage bubble by giving the wives of a
couple of Morgan Stanley bigwigs free money to make essentially
risk-free investments in student loans and commercial real estate? The
answer is: by degrees. The history of the bailout era reads like one of
those awful stories about what happens when a long-dormant criminal
compulsion goes unchecked. The Peeping Tom next door stares through a
few bathroom windows, doesn't get caught, and decides to break in and
steal a pair of panties. Next thing you know, he's upgraded to homemade
dungeons, tri-state serial rampages and throwing cheerleaders into a
panel truck.

The impetus for this sudden manic expansion of the bailouts was a
masterful bluff by Wall Street executives. Once the money started
flowing from the Federal Reserve, the executives began moaning to their
buddies at the Fed, claiming that they were suddenly afraid of investing
in anything — student loans, car notes, you name it — unless
their profits were guaranteed by the state. "You ever watch soccer,
where the guy rolls six times to get a yellow card?" says William Black,
a former federal bank regulator who teaches economics and law at the
University of Missouri. "That's what this is. If you have power and
connections, they will give you a freebie deal — if you're good at

This is where TALF fits into the bailout picture. Created just after
Barack Obama's election in November 2008, the program's ostensible
justification was to spur more consumer lending, which had dried up in
the midst of the financial crisis. But instead of lending directly to
car buyers and credit-card holders and students — that would have been
socialism! — the Fed handed out a trillion dollars to banks and hedge
funds, almost interest-free. In other words, the government lent
taxpayer money to the same assholes who caused the crisis, so that they
could then lend that money back out on the market virtually risk-free,
at an enormous profit.

Cue your Billy Mays voice, because wait, there's more! A key aspect of TALF is that the Fed doles out the money through what are known as non-recourse loans.
Essentially, this means that if you don't pay the Fed back, it's no big
deal. The mechanism works like this: Hedge Fund Goon borrows, say, $100
million from the Fed to buy crappy loans, which are then transferred to
the Fed as collateral. If Hedge Fund Goon decides not to repay that
$100 million, the Fed simply keeps its pile of crappy securities and
calls everything even.

This is the deal of a lifetime. Think about it: You borrow millions, buy
a bunch of crap securities and stash them on the Fed's books. If the
securities lose money, you leave them on the Fed's lap and the public
eats the loss. But if they make money, you take them back, cash them in
and repay the funds you borrowed from the Fed. "Remember that crazy guy
in the commercials who ran around covered in dollar bills shouting, 'The
government is giving out free money!' " says Black. "As crazy as he
was, this is making it real."

read the full article here

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trav7777's picture

guillotines, bitchez

krispkritter's picture

Fixed it: Guillotine the bitches, bitchez.

hedgeless_horseman's picture

"But when the state is lending money at zero percent and the banks are turning around and lending that money back to the state at three percent, how is that different from just handing rich people money?"

I loved this question, even though he left out the part about fractional reserves. 

He could have said, "...and the banks are turning around and lending 15-20 times that same amount of money back to the state ..." 

Great writing!

A Man without Qualities's picture

The Federal Reserve - making rich people richer since 1913....

long juan silver's picture

Regarding the 10-20X multiplier off reserve balance requirements, the risk there is/was principal risk on any lending/purchases beyond the Fed grant.

Agreed that the omission of the reserve/multiplier opportunity significantly understates the free ride given to these assholes, just challenging the categorization of the multiplied balances as "risk free". Course  there's always too big (or small) to fail!

hedgeless_horseman's picture

The Federal Reserve - making rich people richer since 1913....risk free.

Like Orwell said, "All investors have risk but some investors have more risk than others."

DollarMenu's picture


Not guns.

We all need a 'time out'.

The whole country - everyone just stay home.

First - turn off the TV, the radio, the cellphone.

No buying, no selling, no driving, no flying, no eating out, no working.


Live off those emergency preps - play with the kids, but no new toys.

Tend your garden.

A few weeks of nothing and let's see what happens.

If nothing else, it will be a great dry run for the real thing.

Won't happen of course - to many games to watch,

too many addicted to JIT paychecks or gov't subsidies.

Can't mess with the career path.

Gotta have....(fill in the blanks).

Nope - won't work.

Too many too settled into the status quo - upsetting as it is.

Maybe polar shift and landmass tsunamis?

Seriously, what is it going to take?


tip e. canoe's picture

the evolution of revolution

shortus cynicus's picture

you've forgot buying silver !

WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot's picture

I've been hearing murmurings of violent revolt recently, and then you come along with this. Brilliant. I think it could actually work. And unlike taking to the streets and dragging Jamie Dimon straight to a waiting guillotine, the authorities couldn't do shit about this. Completely legal. Completely destructive. I love it. Let's pick a week.

Big Corked Boots's picture

General Strike (bitchez)

edit: new t-shirt slogan: If you're not pissed off, you're overmedicated.

FeralSerf's picture

A good guillotine is hard to find these days.  Maybe there is an opportunity there.

damnitalready's picture

It's a nice idea, but it won't work.  One of the benefits of keeping unemployment so high, 20% of the country could strike and there would be roughly no loss in work when those who are hungry for a paycheck will step up to do it.  It's not like we all have union protectionism on our side.

Get 40% of the country to participate and you might make a ding, but surely it would take atleast half the working country to do this successfully.

Widowmaker's picture

Time out?

Not a chance, time will only make it worse.

Time IS out.

Pepe's picture

I like your proposal.It has a Ghandi air to it. Any idea on how to bring it about

almost_have_a_name's picture

The only thing these bitches risked is their necks.

willien1derland's picture

OK - AMWQ & HH - Great ideas - gonna combine them & offer it on a t-shirt - 'The Federal Reserve, making rich people richer, risk free, since 1913' - WB7 you can pull this off!

Zero Govt's picture

Socialism for the rich... and their wives

Sopra Tutt1's picture

Actually this is what people voted for.

Obama said that he's not looking for more witch hunts, but that he's looking toward the future. This is what hope and change were all about.

I have a feeling that he's next campaign slogan will be hope and pray.

FeralSerf's picture

Hope and pray the sheep don't wise up.  So far, so good.

anonnn's picture

All of it justified by...privilege.

trav7777's picture

Those of us even vaguely in the know - and there were a lot - saw through TALF as soon as it was announced.

Essentially, the Fed used these devices to sop up debt all over the spectrum.  If you had some of your own cash, you could put it up (sorta) and then you bought access to the Window.  Not for the little people, only the big fish.

Then you take out enough loans to buy your shit ALONG WITH paying yourself management fees and continue to roll loans until you've extracted your initial profit + 20% or whatever your expected ROI was.  Then, fuckit, stop paying, let the Fed have the shit.

The Fed DIRECTLY subsidized ALL the big fish along the way.  Little fish got the firings, cuts, pay freezes, etc.  I was working at Comcast during the time this fucking CEO got his nearly record (for US F500s) pay increase.  They were actively attriting staff all up and down, letting significant knowledge walk out the door.  And the CEO got the payraise.  Everyone below executive level got fucked while these motherfuckers bought themselves a $25M giant TV screen at HQ to serve as a digital wall (no shit) replete with digital ants crawling across it.

InconvenientCounterParty's picture

3 years later and little if anything has changed structurally. Quite the contrary in fact.

James's picture

My hope for ALL these people is that they do what Jesse Livermore did.

AccreditedEYE's picture

+1 Willbur Ross was spouting about this program big time way back when...

It is a bit extreme though to fund your financially unsophisticated wife's shell company for free profits when you (Mack) were a large contributor to the crisis. Complete BS. They didn't even have the brains to take it off shore.

Great comment on Exec Pay.  lol

Al Gorerhythm's picture

They didn't even have the brains to take it off shore.

No, they were so arrogant, they didn't even bother. You know the drill; Turn the other cheek.

SilverRhino's picture

Not to worry, considering the bulk of his wealth is tied up in real estate mortgage servicing Wilbur has his own assfucking coming in a year or so.  

Bob's picture

Durden's ass was also chafing about it then.  I remember wishing I could get my hands on that kind of money with that kind of "risk."  It was giddlying to even imagine it--as everybody at ZH in those days agreed.  It was like Brittany Spears falling through your door whacked on coke wearing that very short skirt without panties . . . before she let herself turn to splaying dough. 

What a fucking fuck fest the Fed, uh, taxpayers threw for the banksters.  And they brought all their friends.

But, back to reality, we really gotta do something about all them "entitlements." 

Social security, medicare and medicaid.  Probly should take down all the other socialist scams of the poor, too. Somebody has to be the "adults" here and pay the bill, right?

Rick64's picture

  Exactly, they want to talk about cutting entitlements, all the while handing out billions to every goddamn bank on the planet on top of that they are giving it away to these offshore companies that probably aren't paying taxes, and have their investments backed by the taxpayer. They have taken hypocrisy to a new level.

recoveringibanker's picture

First of all, those fascists shouldn't even be referring to SS, Medicare and Medicaid as entitlements. 
Every paycheck I've received was lighter by over 7%, and my employers footed the same amount (which should have gone to me for actually doing something).

Entitlement?! Kiss my entitled ass fuqtards.

Harlequin001's picture

need to get back to a system that rewards real success, not accounting gimmicks...

damnitalready's picture

Bull, you paid for the people who were retired when you were paying in, not paying a dime for your future retirement.  It is entitlement, you gave toward others' entitlement, and now we're paying for yours.  It was never a savings account.

I realize how fu**ed up it is to pay in and risk not getting what's "yours", but call it for what it is.

Caviar Emptor's picture

Yup. That was a story learned well coming out of the 1980s with the S&L crisis. It was a bonanza for the well-connected, all made possible through the generosity of the taxpayer. Only back then the country was still hoping that "Trickle-Down" would work. What they didn't realize is that the wealthy never let wealth trickle. They hoard, they stuff tax free accounts overseas, they buy villas in the South of France, and what they do buy in the US is the kind of stuff that contributes almost nothing to the productive economy: jewelry, fine art, collectible wines, and owning land. Butlers, maids and personal secretaries get a lil bit of a trickle. 

trav7777's picture

could have paid 500 employees 50k for the year for that.

Or maybe one year's bonus of the CEO.

The elite class is systematically looting EVERYTHING they touch.

Rick Masters's picture

Couldn't agree more. How do we stop them?

Bob's picture

Shift the focus from the Corporate Media's theme of cutting so-called "entitlements" to what should be the matter at hand: Making people who should be paying pay.  With all their money--before they go to prison.  That message iisn't hard at all for people to grasp--they just need to hear it.

Harlequin001's picture

Entitlements ARE the problem, they are the reason countries sold debt in the first place.

They need to go, all of them. The problem is that too many people think they have a god given right to welfare, which they don't and especially not at my expense.

Tax the rich is a distraction. With a gold standard they would not have been able to make this money in the first place. You need to keep the focus where it should be, about removing the ability to create endless money from thin air...

Milestones's picture

A sheriff can't figure it out???       Milestones

Sudden Debt's picture

What do you expect with a black houseslave in the white house who serves them every time the little bell goes?


It's just discusting to see how they even get acces to governement money at all.


I got 1 rule: If they do/did it once, they will do it again.

These people need to be stripped from their entire wealth untill they are forced to take a normal job to put food on the table. And anything above 45.000$ a year must be confiscated by the state.

And if they are caught 1 more time doing someting illegal, they must go 20 year to jail and those who "help" them must suffer the same faith.

Somehow I don't think they would do it again if you made a example out of it with the top 5000 of those gangsters.



IQ 145's picture

 To be fair about it, I don't think golf-playing comedian knows anything about it. It's not hard to make the punishment fit the crime; but getting these people in the dock is another matter. In general, they're slippery as deerguts on a doorknob. Also, there's an expression; "fuck you money"; whcih is good; but then there is "fuck you power"; and that is better. When you're a member of the rulling class, you have fuck you power; you're really not going to get in trouble. Who indicted or accused King Leopold for the heinous crimes he was responsible for in the Belgin Congo? Nobody. John Pierpont Morgan was suppoened by the US Congress to testify vis a vis his involvement with the 1929 stock market crash; he and his wife and their servants got on an ocen liner in New York and left for France; he didn't even bother replying.  And so forth, and so on. A large part of the Roman Army decided to fight with Julius Caesur for the rights of the commoner against the wealthy elite, and after the fighting and dying was done and he came back to Rome at the head of his victorious army; the Senators stabbed him to death on the floor of the Senate. Because he was a real threat to their privilege; including definetely the privilege to rip off the public purse; and it didn't matter if he had an army or not, (they had one too); they just murdered him. So, it's not so easy.