We’ll Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse

One person with knowledge of the meetings called it a “take it or take it offer”:

The chief executives of the nine largest banks in the United States trooped into a gilded conference room at the Treasury Department at 3 p.m. Monday. To their astonishment, they were each handed a one-page document that said they agreed to sell shares to the government, then Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said they must sign it before they left.

And when the CEOs began to object, Paulson’s consigliere explained that it was ‘in their best interest’ not to protest too much:

With the discussion becoming heated, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben S. Bernanke, who was seated next to Mr. Paulson, interceded. He told the bankers that the session need not be combative, since both the banks and the broader economy stood to benefit from the program. Without such measures, he added, the situation of even healthy banks could deteriorate.

As David Boaz quipped, “Nice little bank ya got there… Shame if anything happened to it.”

The strange thing is, there are still people in America who are surprised to hear that our government behaves like this…

  • thomasblair

    I cannot fathom why this hasn’t made more of a news splash. Here we have the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve playing the Godfather with the country’s nine largest banks. This is outright nationalization, albeit partial rather than in its entirety.

    It makes me wonder, in all honesty, what it will take before people realize the giant fucking hole we’re in. What will it take? A complete collapse?

  • Akston

    Yes.