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…