Europe Economy

SquawkBack Europe: Beware the Clawback

Stephen Sedgwick,|CNBC Anchor

Whereas the global regulatory and political powers-that-be made a good job of feigning coordination in their collective panic-button-pushing stimulus at the height of the financial crisis, it seems that it’s everyone for themselves in the scramble to punish the perceived perpetrators.

Of course, no government around the world would dream of calling it punishment. But what else can something entitled the "Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee" be? Why not go the whole hog and call it the "We Need to Blame Someone and What’s More We Need to Find Some Money From Somewhere Bill?" At least that way no one could accuse the politicians of doublespeak.

As the White House finally shows its teeth, Costas thinks we’re seeing a tougher, Mark II version of the US president:

“The more I hear Obama’s fancy speech this morning on your show, the more he sounds like a kid who just discovered he’s wearing Iron Man’s new suit.”

So, whereas Gordon Brown went for the jugular of the bankers themselves with his bonus tax, the Obama administration’s efforts have been concentrated on a fee which will net somewhere in the region of $100 billion for federal coffers.

David Buik, author of the Today’s Fayre column, points out that this fee seems to have missed a rather elementary fact:

“What does not seem to have been taken in to account is the fact that most major banks have already repaid their TARP funds.”

Dennis also notes the vast sums spent on the auto industry and fears good money continues to follow bad:

“The U.S. spent $59.7 billion on the auto industry. That works out to about $54,000 per employee in the whole industry. My thinking is that was not a good investment. When will it stop? Bad management followed by bad government choices.”

And Johnny is outrageously suggesting the Obama fee might just be about more than the cost of one sector:

“Why do the banks need to be paying back for GM and Chrysler? Shouldn't GM and Chrysler be getting taxed extra once they are in profitability? And why were they bailed in the first place? Didn't the banks already pay for them once already?”

Regardless of the pros and cons of the Fee, Patrick makes the point that the banks are still making vast sums of money. Just wait for those bumper Goldman numbers next week. $100 billion over 10 years, split amongst 50 plus players may be a drop in the ocean.

“Wall Street will give (Obama) change…”

Last word goes to Fintan, who accuses CNBC of a lack of impartiality over this issue and our treatment generally of the banks:

“You guys are too close to the investment industry.  This is about the value of the industry versus other industries.”

Too close? Not close enough in my book. Had we been closer we might have nailed more of the inconsistencies in the run-up to this crisis.

What is it Vito Corleone said? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

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