Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was interviewed by James Bennet at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum, and said "it's inexplicable" why the same bankers who supported Obama in 2008 are now "doing everything in their power to undermine his presidency," reports the Wall Street Journal.
In The Atlantic interview, Geithner said:
I think it's inexplicable. They -- people resent when they need help. It's a natural thing. ...They resent the huge amount of public anger they've been subjected to because they caused the crisis -- they sometimes claim, they think it was created by us, which I think is a deeply unfair judgment. And they react to what is pretty modest, common-sense observations about the system as if they're deep affronts to the dignity of their profession.And I don't understand why they're so sensitive. But they're very wounded, and they've seen a huge amount of damage to peoples' confidence in their capacity to not just manage risk and to meet the needs of their customers, but in the broader public consciousness. And they'd like us to heal that for them, and they ask me all the time, Why can't you heal that for us? And I say to them, I think reasonably, that's something you've got to earn back yourself. We can't do that for you.
"Some people resent needing help," he continued, claiming that the proposals the Obama administration advocates are because of the failings in the banking system that almost collapsed it in 2008.
But is Wall Street's alleged reaction to the administration really all that "inexplicable?"
Maybe it's the critical tone President Obama's adminstration has taken toward banks—personally calling them "fat cat bankers" in 2009, and now the criticism of Bank of America's decision to impose a $5 fee on checking accounts ("We will prevail").
And it is fairly obvious that both those with an invested interest in Wall Street as well as those who are currently protesting the aforementioned "fat cats" are unhappy with the administration. Henry Blodget at Business Insider sums it up nicely:
Earlier this week . . . Obama pandered to Main Street by blasting Bank of America for its debit-card fee, while saying nothing about the ongoing Bush-era bailout policies that continue to reward banks just for being banks (The Federal Reserve continues to pay BOFA and other banks "interest on excess reserves," for example, and helps them replenish their balance sheets by perpetuating zero percent interest rates.)
Of course, aggressively addressing capital requirements and restructuring zombie banks three years ago would have turned Wall Street against Obama—but Wall Street's now against Obama anyway. Meanwhile, blaming Wall Street for its contribution to the country's problems—and actually backing up the talk with action—would have won over the rest of the business community and Main Street.
Instead, Obama has infuriated both sides for his ineffectiveness on this issue—and Wall Street remains unchanged.