As Special Inspector General for the US Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Neil Barofsky had unique insight into the complicated and corruption-prone intersection of government and banking. His mandate was to root out and prosecute waste, fraud and abuse, standing up to the most powerful people and institutions in Washington DC. In this web-exclusive conversation with Bill Moyers, Barofsky shares his expert perspective on last week’s resignation of Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit.
“I think that you have to view [Pandit’s] career through that prism of being one of the worst-performing of a group of bad banks. To receive all that money and really to accomplish what he accomplished was mostly because of taxpayer generosity and the incredible political connections that Citigroup had in Washington. And basically cashing out those connections,” Barofsky tells Bill.
Barofsky also shares his deep disappointment in President Obama for protecting — instead of reigning in — the big banks.
“I thought that if there was ever going to be a political figure that would take on the interests of Wall Street, it was going to be President Obama. And that just didn’t happen,” Barofsky says. “It was the exact opposite of that… He had the same ideology as Secretary Geithner and, frankly, the same ideology as a lot of those people who came from Wall Street.”
Currently an adjunct professor at the New York University School of Law, Barofsky is the author of Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, a behind-the-scenes account of insider dealing and mishandling of financial bailouts by the US Treasury Department.
Bill and Barofsky share a larger conversation about the financial sector’s seeming omnipotence on this weekend’s Moyers & Company. Check local listings.