Lately at TPM, we’ve been wondering about exactly what kind of deal taxpayers got on that whole $700 billion bailout that the Treasury isn’t doing much to track.
And along comes Bloomberg with a report that suggests we might not want to know the answer.
The lead data point:
[Treasury Secretary Henery Paulson] invested $10 billion in Goldman Sachs in October, twice as much as [Warren] Buffett did the month before, yet gained warrants worth one-fourth as much as the billionaire.
So Buffett’s investors got a better deal than taxpayers. Bloomberg explains:
Paulson left money on the table in three ways, according to [former IMF chief economist Simon] Johnson: accepting fewer warrants than Buffett did; setting the certificates’ price trigger, or strike, above market values; and receiving an annual yield on the preferred shares that is half of what Buffett will get for the first five years.
And Bloomberg has some damning quotes about Paulson’s investing. Johnson calls them “just egregious,” adding: “You want to do it the way Warren does it.”
And according to Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz: Paulson said “he had to make it attractive to banks, which is code for ‘I’m going to give money away.’”
Stiglitz continued: “In many ways, it’s not only a giveaway, but a giveaway that was designed not to work.”
And he added: “If Paulson was still an employee of Goldman Sachs and he’d done this deal, he would have been fired.”