BECOME A BANK HOLDING COMPANY

Hi, I’m a bank holding company. I used to be just another guy trying to make a go of it, but that was before George W and his Wall Street handyman, Hank Paulson, started doling out whaddayacallems… oh, yeah – bank bailouts.

Hi, I’m a bank holding company. I used to be just another guy trying to make a go of it, but that was before George W and his Wall Street handyman, Hank Paulson, started doling out whaddayacallems… oh, yeah – bank bailouts.

Of course, big banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America got in line early for the government cash. But, gollies, next thing you know, all sorts of businesses were redefining themselves as banks and queuing up to get their thick slice of the bailout, including insurance giants and automakers. And now – look out! – here comes American Express, asserting that it’s no longer a mere credit card issuer, it’s a bank holding company.

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What’s the difference? About $4 billion. That’s how much American Express can squeeze out of us taxpayers by being designated a bank – a bit of transvestite surgery that Treasury Secretary Paulson has now okayed. As the AmEx CEO explained about his corporation’s tricky metamorphosis: “We want to be best positioned to take advantage of the various [bailout] programs the federal government has introduced or may introduce.”

Hey… me too! I love the free market as much as American Express does, so where’s mine? Like them, I’ve got some bad loans out there, and I’m suffering from “market turbulence.” My nephew is into me for two grand on a college loan, and he can’t seem to get a job that doesn’t require a hair-net. Meanwhile, my bartender at the Chug-a-Lug will testify that I’m behind on my bar tabs because of the “unusual and exigent circumstances” roiling financial markets. That’s the very line that American Express used to get its snout into the public trough, so why not me?

Yo, Bucko – you got financial exigencies? Just join American Express, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and others to become a bank holding company. It’s all gravy after that.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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