The expectation yesterday was that the top bank CEO’s would be feeling the pain under withering criticism from the House Financial Services Committee. Not that the day was a picnic, but that expectation wasn’t even close.
These guys, in contrast to the auto executives who received the same treatment recently, are a breed apart. They were steady, incredibly well coached, non-defensive and quick firing with all kinds of data. If anyone was chafing around the edges a bit, it was Ken Lewis of B of A, fifth from the right. You can see the anger in his eyes, for example, as he responds to harsh treatment from Congressman Maxine Waters over post-TARP increases in credit card rates.
Otherwise, the photo above earned the honors in illustrating the NYT hearing write-up because of Wells Fargo CEO John G. Stumpf (closest to us.) Embodying the crew, he’s forward leaning; serious; otherwise unemotional; and, there’s not a hair out of place.
I’m just looking at the really interesting edit fronting today’s NYT.
Combining their shot selection (Goldman Sachs’s Blankfein and Pandit of Citi gesturing forcefully, Pandit aggressively, and Lewis of B of A seeming to hold back his temper) with the point in the caption that lawmakers were (largely) measured in their questioning, the sense is not just that the bankers held their own.
The sense is that the banker not just held the upper hand, but that the lawmakers (which would also speak to their intermittent angry grandstanding) might have even been intimidated.
House Financial Services Cmte. Hearing on TARP Funds (part 1 & 2 -C-SPAN)
(image 1: Doug Mills/The New York Times. caption: Executives from the financial institutions who received funds from the $700 billion banking bailout faced their critics on the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday in Washington. The chief executives at the hearing are: Kenneth D. Lewis of Bank of America, Robert P. Kelly of Bank of New York Mellon, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup, Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, John J. Mack of Morgan Stanley, Ronald E. Logue of State Street, and John G. Stumpf of Wells Fargo. images 2-4 Doug Mills/NYT.)