America’s bankers have been extraordinarily effective in responding to a financial crisis that they created. They’ve worked hard to make sure that the response to the crisis didn’t threaten their fat bonuses or their awesome political power.
They succeeded in gutting the toughest aspects of financial reform. Then they started lobbying the regulators who will have the enforcement power.
Now they’re toiling to undermine a proposed settlement with authorities over widespread abuses in the foreclosure process, and demonizing consumer champion Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency in the process.
Of course they’re getting plenty of help from their government enablers. As Gretchen Morgenstern reported in the New York Times, the 50 state attorney generals who are supposed to be spearheading the investigation into the foreclosures aren’t doing any actual investigating.
This puts them at a definite disadvantage when they sit down to negotiate with the banks.
Those of us who aren’t bankers and would like to see a different outcome could learn a few things from the bankers.
How do the bankers do it?
- They’re relentless. They don’t take no for an answer and they don’t know the meaning of defeat. They have lots of money and they’re not afraid to spend it on campaign contributions and lobbying. While we may not be able to match their cash, there’s no reason we can’t be as relentless as the big bankers. They wouldn’t still be in business, let alone raking in billions in bonuses, if we hadn’t bailed them out.
- They have no illusions about loyalty. They spent big to elect President Obama. But when it looked like they could get more from the Republicans, they switched sides. Nobody can take their support for granted.
- They have no shame. They never apologized for all the risk and fraud that created the collapse. They never offered to tighten their belts or pick up part of the tab. They just kept fighting for their selfish interests.
- They maintained their sense of humor. How else do you explain their carping about how anti-business the president is, while Obama’s team does whatever it can to prop up the “too big to fail banks” while wringing its hands that it just can’t do any more to help the unemployed or distressed homeowners?