Meeting at the White House
After a 60 Minutes interview with President Obama in which he referred to bankers as “fat cats” that he would take to task in his scheduled meeting at the White House today, three bankers skipped out on the affair. The point of the meeting was for the Administration to remind the banking industry that they were given an exorbitant amount of money to save their tails during the bailout and Obama said of the banks, “now that they’re back on their feet, we expect an extraordinary commitment from them to rebuild our economy” (full text of his speech is here).
Obama called for banks to make more small business loans and that he’s tired of potential employers not getting the help they need, “I’m getting too many letters from small businesses who explain that they are credit worthy.”
News outlets buzzed after the big meeting and bankers on several shows said that there was little disagreement in the meeting. Then they all went out for ice cream together. Well, they didn’t do that last part, but they did publicly state on the circuit that it was a productive meeting. But read until the end of this post and you’ll get a good chuckle like I did.
Why this all matters
The real estate industry and unemployment are closely tied together, that cannot be denied. What scares me about this and what everyone seems to have missed was a PBS interview this evening where mouthpiece Richard Davis, CEO of U.S. Bancorp (USB) was asked when these small business loans might begin and his response was:
“When the recovery starts to happen. So you’ll see, whatever actions we can take, whoever is qualified, we’ll do our level best to qualify them. If we can help guide them to become more qualified we will do that. But until and unless the recovery starts to occur and we start to see some momentum where there’s a real future attached to some of these great plans that small businesses have, it will take some time.”
Umm WHAT!?!? So, let me get this straight- you have a meeting in a fancy room in the White House, you have a productive day, you tell news outlets that sunshiney days are coming again but when asked WHEN the sun would shine, your answer was the equivalent of saying that you can’t help recovery until the recovery is already firmly in place? That is NOT what the President asked of you, he asked you to kick start the economy because you owe it to America and instead you give lip service to the media and make no plans on doing anything until the economy fixes itself.