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Vanity Fair On Warren: Geithner hated her - She Knew The Secret Handshake Used It Against Them. [View All]

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kpete Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-15-11 03:21 PM
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The Woman Who Knew Too Much

Millions of Americans hoped President Obama would nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the consumer financial watchdog agency she had created. Instead, she was pushed aside. As Warren kicks off her run for Scott Browns Senate seat in Massachusetts, Suzanna Andrews charts the Harvard professors emergence as a champion of the beleaguered middle class, and her fight against a powerful alliance of bankers, lobbyists, and politicians.

By Suzanna Andrews Photograph by Nigel Parry

My first choice is a strong consumer agency, she said. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.


Geithner hated her,
says a former administration official. Part of it was seen as personal because she had scorched him in public. But the whole thrust of her work on the oversight panelgetting the facts out to the publicwas at odds with Geithners perceived conviction, shared by the Wall Street establishment, that the details of the banks TARP rescue should be hidden from public scrutiny whenever possible in order to give the banks time to recover, an assessment that a Treasury spokesperson disputes, insisting that Secretary Geithner initiated unprecedented disclosure requirements for financial institutions.

According to Barofsky, however, Treasurys descriptions of what was happening were very skewed towards the positive and often incomprehensible. There was this reluctance towards transparency, and Warrens work on the oversight panel helped bring light in a lot of dark areas. As Treasury sought to cosset the banks, never requiring them, for example, as Barofsky points out, to explain what they were doing with their billions in TARP bailout money, Warren persisted. She went on television shows to criticize the governments secrecy, the huge bank bonuses, the fact that even after the bailout the banks had escaped disciplinary measures. Obamas top economic advisers, according to a former administration official, thought Warren was a pain in the ass. On Wall Street, Warren was regarded, says one bank vice-chairman, as the Devil incarnate, and, according to another executive, a showboater, who didnt really know what she was talking about.

But her sin was actually quite the opposite: she knew what she was talking about. Wall Streets power in Washington, says a former congressional staffer who worked on the Dodd-Frank bill, has been built partly on the fact that few people outside Wall Street understand the esoterica of financethe intricacies of C.D.O.s and the labyrinthian structures of credit-default swaps. And that knowledge is used to control and confuse. But Warren did understand. Says Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democratic representative, She understands the information as well as the top players in the business. She knew the secret handshake, the secret languageand she used it against that tight little group, as Warren would refer to Wall Street C.E.O.s and Washington officials who basically controlled the terms of the bailout.

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