In December, WVFC cheered when we heard the first from Harvard University economist Elizabeth Warren, who’d been appointed by Congress to chair a panel overseeing the first of the government’s financial industry rescue programs, TARP (or Troubled Asset Relief Program),  This year, as TARP’s successors have been unveiled under the direction of largely male alumni of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and other financial giants, we’ve been curious as to Warren’s perspective from her perch at Government Accountability Office.

Now,  according to the British newspaper The Guardian UK (via the invaluable Naked Capitalism), Warren may be about to say what has heretofore only been said outside the Administration: Off with their heads! The company heads, that is:

Elizabeth Warren, chief watchdog of America’s $700bn (£472bn) bank bailout plan, will this week call for the removal of top executives from Citigroup, AIG and other institutions that have received government funds in a damning report that will question the administration’s approach to saving the financial system from collapse.

Warren, a Harvard law professor and chair of the congressional oversight committee monitoring the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (Tarp), is also set to call for shareholders in those institutions to be “wiped out”. “It is crucial for these things to happen,” she said. “Japan tried to avoid them and just offered subsidy with little or no consequences for management or equity investors, and this is why Japan suffered a lost decade.” She declined to give more detail but confirmed that she would refer to insurance group AIG, which has received $173bn in bailout money, and banking giant Citigroup, which has had $45bn in funds and more than $316bn of loan guarantees.

Warren also believes there are “dangers inherent” in the approach taken by treasury secretary Tim Geithner, who she says has offered “open-ended subsidies” to some of the world’s biggest financial institutions without adequately weighing potential pitfalls.

We do sometimes wonder if the whole thing might do better if left to the right women, like Warren and the FDIC’s Sheila Bair. Not gonna happen, but a girl can dream. In the meantime, it appears they’re already providing an essential counterpoint from all those smartest-guys-in-the-room types.

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  • Robert Kavanaugh May 7, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Strange as it may sound, Dr. Warren’s wisdom and unique voice, which I first encountered on “Frontline”, has had precisely the same effect on me as it has had on John W. Rippetoe Jr. I also admire Mr. Rippetoe’s obtuse, yet accurately elucidated account of the kind of ferocious inspiration Dr. Warren’s voice inspires in people… and I’m grateful to chime in and latch on to his sentiment without having to embarrass myself or risk being placed on some secret government stalker list again. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) Anyway, I second the motion and the emotion: Great, great, great work Dr. Warren.

  • john w. rippetoe jr. April 22, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    So, I suspect what the reader is (might be) thinking; and yes,
    1) I, like most (or all) first-born/oldest-child males, suffer from an exaggerated sense of my own importance, and so assume that thousands stopped to read my previous comment and praise for Dr. Elizabeth Warren, so, I’m compelled to clarify.
    2) that I’m an opportunist, and that I “took advantage” of this excellent e-publication devoted to women’s voices to voice my admiration for Elizabeth Warren and the work she has taken on (but, consider my e-options, yes? What, sing her praises at **? — or better, **?)
    3) that I completely misused the word “approbation”, missing the meaning entirely, even after looking it up in the dictionary before using the word — where I (dyslexic) misread “commendation” (correct meaning, but not the one I was looking for) for “condemnation” (incorrect meaning). I should have used “censure, criticism” etc. Sorry.
    (But, I rather enjoy humiliating myself in public at regular intervals. It’s sort of like exfoliating, sloughing off the dead skin and all pretensions, but absent the risk of clogging the drains, pipes and plumbing with the scouring-grit.)
    4) but, I did want to say that I am not(!) guilty of that most idiotic of all male impulses – though it is an impulse common to all males past the age of puberty – that is, I am (!)not(!) guilty of believing (because men really do believe this) that a woman’s life could not possibly be complete without, or util she has received, from that man, a compliment on her fetching good looks, or the attractiveness of her figure (ie. cat-calls, wolf-whistles, the “yeah baby, I’d do her”! etc. idiocy. And, of course, the woman has to acknowledge the “compliment”, right – sort of like registered mail – for it to count, yes?.)
    No, my purpose in the “ps.”, the asking to meet Elizabeth Warren, was because I did not want to come to the end of my life without having clamored, at least once, for a chance to meet the woman who I have come to admire, as I admire no other, for her courage and compassion in taking-up for her own kind — human beings (versus the abuses of the Banking Industry; go read the article.) She has inspired me with what I see as her composed, but fierce resolve to see that her own kind are treated fairly. And I don’t see what “the gain” for her is: a Harvard Professor, brilliant, vibrant, articulate, charming, taking up for me, an established mediocrity who will be hard-pressed to ever repay her (false modesty, witness #1, above) other than, she must feel compelled to do the right thing, she must believe that integrity is an absolute, and that integrity must always be its own reward. I haven’t seen that, where have we seen that, in one of our leaders – left, right, black, white, etc. – in eight years!
    Dr. Elizabeth Warren, thank you.
    (ps. And, Dr. Warren, as soon as I get my charge-card debt retired, I will set enough aside, have enough set aside, to take you (or, you and me and your guest, if you’re already seeing someone), out to eat, or out to see the Nashville Symphony…we have a great Symphony Orchestra!)

  • john w. rippetoe jr. April 20, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Elizabeth Warren is my hero! She speaks with courage, insight, sensibility, clarity and intelligence; and above all, with courage! She is completely entertaining to listen to; “enthralled” is how I would describe my response to the sound of her voice the times I have heard her on NPR’s Fress.Air w/T.Gross. I’m convinced Elizabeth Warren is brilliant, and that she has a gift for eviscerating the target of her approbation with something akin to “sarcasm by understatement”, or, a flair for presenting the damning facts or her case and with something just short of, but closely related to, a kind of Professorial “well, duh! what were you thinking!” But, for me, above all, she speaks with courage. In an otherwise dispiriting era, when absolutely “eveyone with something to gain” has sold-out, (sold their soul and integrity with it), to an either disclosed or undisclosed special-interest, and/or lied about it, or all of the above, Elizabeth Warren has spoken and continues to speak the truth, and has spoken “it” accurately (“accuracy” in all cases being more important and less problematic that “the truth”) , and in such a way as to reach out to the listener who needed to hear the truth. And she has spoken out when the truth turned out to be an indictment (figurative for now) of the business practices of some of the most powerful & profitable (see synonyms: profitable and powerful) corporations in the Country.
    I’ve gone on too long, so, to the point:
    Dear Elizabeth Warren, thank you for your courage, thank you for speaking out with courage and intelligence, thank you for speaking for the people who would otherwise not be able to speak for, or represent themselves — including me. (I apologize for all of the grammatical errors — too long out of school.) When I hear you speak, I hear an “inclusiveness” in your courage, one that makes me proud of our species, as well as inspired by your example, inspired by your effort to make sure your fellow citizens (and human beings) are not abused.
    ps. are you seeing anyone right now?
    john w. rippetoe jr.

  • Alexsandra Stewart April 7, 2009 at 1:42 am

    Oh, I truly hope she does. Have been astounded at the differing treatment of the auto companies – fire your CEO, merge with so and so, here’s your deadline, as compared to the treatment of AIG, et al.

  • Lucinda Marshall, Director Feminist Peace Network April 6, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Your point is well taken about how this might be different if we listened to women who understood the issues. Over at Feminist Peace Network, we have been running a series of pieces called The Girls’ Guide To The Economy that both addresses how economic hardship specifically impacts women and also highlighting the voices of many wise women, including Riane Eisler and Naomi Klein among others. The 11th part will be out later this week.