Say what you will about newly-minted Chief White House Strategist (and golly gee willikers there is A LOT to say) but don't say that he doesn't share his opinions with rancorous depth.
For instance, Bannon has used his Breitbart News platform for years to advance his unique brand of "Burn it all down!" nationalism populism, and he has fused his personal history of Wall Street player (Goldman Sachs, boutique M&A firm) with an ersatz evangelical christian ethos to become a leading voice in many "anti" movements. While many of Bannon's beliefs have been front and center in our national discussion this week, his stance on Wall Street has never really been talked about...until now.
BuzzFeed News happened upon a transcript of comments Bannon made in 2014 via Skype during a Q&A discussion about poverty held at The Vatican (we understand if you need to go back and read that over, because it is a fucking doozy). Bannon's "appearance" was at the invitation of an ultra-conservative Catholic group call the Human Dignity Institute, and what Bannon said about the banking industry during the discussion provides ample cause for Tim Sloan to commence shitting his pants in anticipation of January 20th, 2017.
After an "interesting" little soliloquy about the twentieth century essentially being a barbaric bloody conflict between Judeo-Christians and others, Bannon turns his attention to the evils of new forms of capitalism undermining Christianity. He then said this:
I think that you’re seeing three kinds of converging tendencies: One is a form of capitalism that is taken away from the underlying spiritual and moral foundations of Christianity and, really, Judeo-Christian belief.
I see that every day. I’m a very practical, pragmatic capitalist. I was trained at Goldman Sachs, I went to Harvard Business School, I was as hard-nosed a capitalist as you get. I specialized in media, in investing in media companies, and it’s a very, very tough environment. And you’ve had a fairly good track record. So I don’t want this to kinda sound namby-pamby, “Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’ around capitalism.”
But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.
Bannon then went on to decry state-sponsored crony capitalism and Ayn Rand with exacting detail.
But it was when the questions started that Bannon really hit his "Occupy From The Right" stride. Like comparing the Export-Import Bank to cancer:
Currently, if you read The Economist, you read the Financial Times this week, you’ll see there’s a relatively obscure agency in the federal government that is engaged in a huge fight that may lead to a government shutdown. It’s called the Export-Import Bank. And for years, it was a bank that helped finance things that other banks wouldn’t do. And what’s happening over time is that it’s metastasized to be a cheap form of financing to General Electric and to Boeing and to other large corporations. You get this financing from other places if they wanted to, but they’re putting this onto the middle-class taxpayers to support this.
And Bannon's fight for the middle class Joe against evil corporate bankers didn't stop there. His thoughts on bank regulation that day sound like Elizabeth Warren reimagined as a zealous villain in a Dan Brown novel:
The 2008 crisis, I think the financial crisis — which, by the way, I don’t think we’ve come through — is really driven I believe by the greed, much of it driven by the greed of the investment banks. My old firm, Goldman Sachs — traditionally the best banks are leveraged 8:1. When we had the financial crisis in 2008, the investment banks were leveraged 35:1. Those rules had specifically been changed by a guy named Hank Paulson. He was secretary of Treasury. As chairman of Goldman Sachs, he had gone to Washington years before and asked for those changes. That made the banks not really investment banks, but made them hedge funds — and highly susceptible to changes in liquidity. And so the crisis of 2008 was, quite frankly, really never recovered from in the United States. It’s one of the reasons last quarter you saw 2.9% negative growth in a quarter. So the United States economy is in very, very tough shape.
And if you get the sense that Bannon would have liked to have seen Paulson or Lloyd Blankfein arrested in 2009, don't get too pleased with yourself...homeboy hates subtlety.
And one of the reasons is that we’ve never really gone and dug down and sorted through the problems of 2008. Particularly the fact — think about it — not one criminal charge has ever been brought to any bank executive associated with 2008 crisis. And in fact, it gets worse. No bonuses and none of their equity was taken. So part of the prime drivers of the wealth that they took in the 15 years leading up to the crisis was not hit at all, and I think that’s one of the fuels of this populist revolt that we’re seeing as the tea party.
And he wasn't even done. In fact, the last salvo Bannon fired off in response to this question is something that the Hillary campaign would have been wise to have discovered in its oppo research, because it lays out a stark and foretelling outline of how the Trump campaign tied the crisis to Hillary like a political anchor and then threw her off the populist pier.
In addition, I think you really need to go back and make banks do what they do: Commercial banks lend money, and investment banks invest in entrepreneurs and to get away from this trading — you know, the hedge fund securitization, which they’ve all become basically trading operations and securitizations and not put capital back and really grow businesses and to grow the economy. So I think it’s a whole area that just — and I will tell you, the underpinning of this populist revolt is the financial crisis of 2008. That revolt, the way that it was dealt with, the way that the people who ran the banks and ran the hedge funds have never really been held accountable for what they did, has fueled much of the anger in the tea party movement in the United States.
Sounds like "a plan"...literally.
But the part of Bannnon's Vatican Skype session that perhaps sums up what banks are about to face with the most clarity (or whatever clarity means for the next four years) was when he said that the 2008 bailouts were almost literally sinful....
For Christians, and particularly for those who believe in the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West, I don’t believe that we should have a bailout. I think the bailouts in 2008 were wrong. And I think, you look in hindsight, it was a lot of misinformation that was presented about the bailouts of the banks in the West.
So take heed, Lloyd, BriMo, Sloan and Corbat, if you cause another crisis under the Trump Administration, you shouldn't pray for a bailout. You should just pray.
Or, there's always the true path of light; #DraftDimon!