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My Dear Partners in Crime

By Jeff Clark
Thursday, February 12, 2009

The bank executives didn't make the same stupid mistake the auto executives did. But they're all still just a bunch of cowardly little schoolgirls hiding behind Mommy's dress.
The CEOs of our nation's largest banks were "invited" to impersonate a bunch of piñatas before Congress yesterday and testify about how they've been spending the government's money. Unlike the auto company CEOs, who must have a combined IQ of something like 12, the bank executives had the good sense to fly commercial. In fact, I'll even wager they all stopped off at Subway for a $5 foot-long before boarding the flight rather than purchase American Airlines' $7 snack pack.
But none of them had the guts – or any other body part – to call out the condescending hypocrites on Capitol Hill.
"How do you justify," asked one of our esteemed elected officials, "taking a million-dollar salary when your company is operating at a loss?"
The ideal response would have been, "Because I spent that much on booze after you passed a law forcing my company to give home loans to people who couldn't pay me back."
But the CEO's were silent... And they were silent when Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California, complained the banks were too slow in renegotiating the terms of the loans her constituents had agreed to and were now unable to fulfill. They were silent when they were asked if they had increased credit- card interest rates on cardholders who were delinquent in paying their debts.
Here's what I would have said if I had been in their shoes...
My dear partners in crime, our generation-long scam is coming to an end. Yes it has been a good run. As bank executives, we've been able to line our pockets with generous stock options and golden parachutes that ensure we'll live like kings from now until eternity. And as elected officials, you've been able to cater to the lowest instinct of your constituents, ensure your reelection, and fill your bank accounts with an eternal stream of campaign contributions. Bravo to all of us.
Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme is nothing more than a zit on the big old butt we've put together here. By working together, we've fleeced the American taxpayer for trillions of dollars. Bank executives have lived high off the hog for years. We have mansions in the Hamptons, 60-foot yachts, private jets, and personal chefs.
As elected officials, you have all of those benefits, plus the ability to vote yourselves a pay raise, increase your petty cash expense fund by $93,000 – as you did so recently – and grandstand in front of the television cameras even though you're guilty of the same abhorrent behavior you accuse us of.
With any luck, we'll have a few more years to suck off the teat of the American taxpayer. But beware. If we go down, then you'll go down, too.
If I am able to do so, I'll take all of the TARP funds and use them to buy precious metals. I know they've rallied quite a bit lately and are due for a pullback. But if I'm going to finally take responsibility for generating profits for my shareholders, I can't think of a better long-term investment at the moment.
Especially with you folks in charge in Washington.
Best regards and good trading,
Jeff Clark

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Earnings today... ABB, EnCana, Marriott, Patterson-UTI, Potlatch, Rio Tinto, Strayer Education, Coca-Cola, Total, Viacom, Waste Management.
Market Watch
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S&P 500 1221.53 +1.3% +10.1%
Oil 38.31 +1.4% -0.6%
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Oil Service 137.59 +1.0% +18.9%
Big Pharma 64.14 +0.0% -3.2%
Internet 72.07 -0.1% +23.4%
Semis 16.22 +1.2% +29.4%
Utilities 31.28 +0.2% +1.5%
Defense 18.52 +0.1% +10.6%
Nanotech 10.03 +0.4% +1.6%
Alt. Energy 10.08 +1.3% -3.3%
Water 18.49 +1.0% +14.5%
Insurance 16.14 +0.4% +21.1%
Biotech 20.54 -0.2% +28.1%
Retail 19.70 +0.3% +30.2%
Software 24.79 +0.8% +25.9%
Big Tech 53.87 +0.3% +22.7%
Construction 13.10 +0.9% +15.7%
Media 13.64 +0.5% +26.0%
Consumer Svcs 67.39 +0.2% +24.5%
Financials 55.04 +0.3% +7.4%
Health Care 64.30 +0.1% +2.0%
Industrials 63.54 +0.5% +21.0%
Basic Mat 74.35 +1.1% +25.3%
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Transportation 91.77 +0.7% +26.9%
Telecom 22.59 +0.5% +17.8%