April 8, 2009

Whom Have We Empowered?

The WSJ (news pages) today carry a chilling story of the man Sec Paulson brought in to oversee TARP funds.

As the government continues to pour cash into the economy, Mr. Lambright, 38 years old, has become one of the most powerful men in American finance. Unknown to most outside the Treasury building, he's an embodiment of how power in the economy has shifted -- for good or ill -- to Washington.

The chief investment officer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program has engineered $350 billion in deals for the U.S. government since October, more than many investment banks would do in a good year. His team interviews candidates for company board seats. Top executives regularly call him and his team for advice.

Neither gub'mint nor Wall Street is beanbag, but the story of Lambright's "toughness" is disturbing. Don Luskin highlights his intransigence on New Year's Eve as companies desperately tried to get funds deposited before the new year. No, we don't want a cream puff shoveling out taxpayer dollars, but Lambright was appointed by a guy who was appointed. He was neither elected nor explicitly under oversight. He is a free range actor with billions of our dollars to prop up the financial system -- or his own, non-diminutive ego.

We're from the government, and here to help. Posted by John Kranz at April 8, 2009 11:24 AM
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