ESL founder and Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert released his annual letter to shareholders yesterday, in which he unloaded a year’s worth of angst. First, the rating agencies. While Eddie understands that they sometimes err on the side of caution, he just doesn’t agree “with all of the critical qualitative conclusions.” Next, business leaders, regulators, public officials and journalists- they’re all the same. They “have become an echo chamber of self-support and self-congratulation, whether on TV, in print or at numerous conferences. Their words and their actions are often self-serving and they are typically regarded and reported on as if they were obvious and selfless.”
“They’re a bunch of idiots” the Whistleblower-in-Chief told New York Times magazine, demonstrating commendable restraint in not calling them “retards.” In related news, Marko’s book, No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller, co-written by hedge fund manager-cum-auteur David Einhorn, is hitting shelves next week. A signed copy is being sent Bernie’s way as we speak.
Alexandra Penney, the Madoff victim (“I prefer the word ‘casualty”) who started blogging about her travails for the Daily Beast last year just turned her gig into a book deal. And now you can buy it! “The Bag Lady Papers” is a book she wrote out of fears of becoming a bag lady, “trudging the streets, cold and abandoned, with a shopping cart filled with tattered bags full of god knows what,” after getting screwed by Bernie. Although she did lose money, the chance of her becoming a hobo was pretty slim, given that Alex has residences in Manhattan, the Hamptons and Florida. But hey, lemons-lemonade! This is not her first book, Alex (who “doesn’t enjoy writing”) also published “How to Make Love to a Man.” We won’t speculate about what fears brought her to write that one.
Hank Paulson had a little chat last night at the 92Y with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. This must’ve been a tad on the uncomfortable side, since just last week, the two had a spat about the passage in Hank’s book mentioning the September 2008 convo regarding GE’s commercial paper woes they may or may not have had. (Paulson chalked it up to having a bad memory, stress, bird-deprivation, etc).
Anyway, no matter, because the ice was broken by starting with a less controversial topic Hank’s unaccomplished desire to be a forest ranger. “I never wanted to be a forest ranger more than during the crisis,” the former Treasury Secretary said wistfully.
GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said today that while he did indeed have a discussion with Hank Paulson in September 2008, it had nothing to do with his irm’s commercial paper woes, as the former Treasury Secretary claims in his new book.
Rather than get defensive about the whole thing, Hank, through his publicist, said that he was merely “relying on memories,” and he was under so much stress that he’s not really sure they were accurate at this point.
“To write this book, I called on the memories of many of the people who were with me during these events. Given the high degree of stress during this time and the extraordinary number of problems I was juggling in a single day, and often in a single hour, I am sure there are many details I will never recall.”
So there you have it. You should expect he got some stuff wrong. Hope that helped cleared things up.
In chronicling the ‘unholy alliance among Big Business, Big Banking, and Big Government,’ which has brought this country to its knees, a sober voice is required to uncover and distill the backdoor deals, the smoke and mirrors, and the ultimate tragedy found within. That voice belongs to Charlie Gasparino. Which is why it is with great pleasure that we inform you that, due to the runaway success of When Mooks Fail, the Oracle of Rego Park has scored his latest book deal (with an advance that is said to be ‘significant,’ i.e. it’ll cover i.e. it will more than cover several week’s worth of martinis at Tropix, the author’s favorite little neighborhood joint, where they have a lax policy on underage drinking). Gasparino’s upcoming contribution to literature and understanding was sold under the name Bought And Paid For, but we have it on good authority that’s just a working title. That’s where you come in. Chaz has requested we help come up with something better, that truly captures the sentiment of the tome. Early proposals:
Hank Paulson’s memoir, The Day I Threatened To Break Ken Lewis’s Legs, is out February 1. Presumably there’ll be many pages devoted to the topic closest to the the former Treasury Secretary’s heart– birds– but today we get a sneak peak at the role of another one of HP’s homeboys– God. As most of you probably know, Hank is a Christian Scientist, and it was the big man in the sky, the one with the genius idea not to treat illness with science, who got Paulson through the darkest days of the crisis. Naturally, it was god who came up with the idea to award AIG’s counterparties 100 cents on the dollar, since it would help out his other client, Goldman Sachs. But getting serious for two, it was G-D who, on of of the most harrowing nights of 2008, busted into Paulson’s home, a glorified crack-den, and pried the smack HP was contemplating shooting from his fingers. “No, Hank! You don’t need this!” he bellowed, before forcing his lamb to flush the poison down the toilet.
Mr. Paulson, a Christian Scientist, said his faith helped him through the financial crisis. During the weekend of Lehman’s collapse, he called his wife, Wendy, and told her, “I am really scared.” She said he shouldn’t be afraid, that his “job is to reflect God, Infinite Mind, and you can rely on Him.”
In another scene, an exhausted, stressed-out Mr. Paulson wrestled with taking a sleeping pill, a move that would have violated his religious beliefs. He instead flushed it down the toilet, deciding “to rely on prayer, placing my trust in a higher power.”
Okay, so now that we’ve given appropriate and sincere thanks, can we talk about something that’s been irking HP? Something that stuck in his craw so bad he had to unload in the first few pages of the book? Something that, in the original draft, had an uncensored Paulson throwing stuff out there like “Dumb twat” and “Who is this bimbo?” and “Jesus, Ben, I told you no hookers with the bailout money.”
If you’re coming to New Canaan, CT on Sunday to hear Charlie Gasparino discuss The Sellout you might need to bring your boxing gloves.
The other day on Chicago-based radio show StocksandJocks, co-hosted by CNBC contributor Dr. J Najarian, a listener asked Gas-Bag if he was ready to handle a confrontational room of ex-Bear and Lehman traders who might want to throw down fisticuffs. Considering many of these guys are still unemployed, stuck with McMansion mortgages, and with ample time on their hands – we thought that was a valid concern. (Sam Molinaro, former Bear Stearns CFO, is a New Canaan resident.)
The show’s other host Tom ‘the Chief’ Haugh asked Chaz, “Are you ready for a scene or a verbal confrontation? How do you think Cannanists will receive you?”
Gasparino responded, “Well you know, they can do whatever they want. What, you don’t think I’ve never had a personal confrontation from peeps on Wall Street? For some reason personal confrontations don’t scare me that much…you know.. I know how to handle myself.”
“I’m not a punching bag I don’t take their [shit]. I remind them it was their company’s management that screwed up and I just reported it. I didn’t engage in your risk taking practices. If you think I have anything to do with your implosion then you’re nuts,” Gasparino. said.