By his own admission on Power Lunch earlier today, Charlie Gasparino thought yesterday's hearing on Capitol Hill sucked, so much so that he "fell asleep" (passed out?) three times. But it was not all for naught. Chaz walked away from the Congressional bitch sesh with a crush and maybe-- please God, please-- co-host for the hotly anticipated Chazparino Variety Hour.Sayeth CG:
Three cheers for Congresswoman Maxine Waters. The California Democrat at least kept yesterday's House Financial Services Committee hearings on the government's bailout of the nation's big banks interesting. She sarcastically referred to the group of CEOs seated before her--which included Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, John Mack of Morgan Stanley, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America chief Ken Lewis-- as "our captains of the universe." Well, most of these captains were about to go down with their ships. Waters let them have it. Later, after getting a smartass remark from Lewis, she demanded to know if he and his buddies were raising credit-card rates. And then she and Lewis went at it again, causing Lewis to remark that he couldn't understand what she was talking about.
I know how much people love beating up on the Wall Street CEOs who were hauled in front of the committee yesterday. And they deserve it. Several mentioned they didn't know the economy was on shaky footing until the third quarter of 2007. Well guess what? Most of the smart money knew that the housing market--the pillar of our economy--was about to explode at the end of 2006. That's why so many hedge funds began shorting any stock connected to the housing market. Failing to see the demise of the housing market when you're supposed to have access to the best minds and analytical models on the planet is yet another reason not to trust Wall Street--they can't even see a recession when its staring them in the face.
But let's not let our elected officials off the hook either. Frank's committee is supposed to be in charge of oversight. Where were these guys when the real-estate bubble reached dizzying heights? And now that the bubble has exploded, damaging not just housing prices, but the banking system and the national economy, what are they doing to fix the problem? Even more troubling, did you get any sense of urgency to come up with a solution?
Answer those questions and you'll understand why I like Maxine Waters so much: She came to play.