The Other Warren Commission Report

The Congressional Oversight Panel, led by Elizabeth Warren, released its six-month TARP report Tuesday evening (PDF). If documents could wield a pitchforks, this one wouldn't. But it does contain one little sliver of populist outrage. The report judges TARP by four criteria -- transparency, assertiveness, accountability and clarity. The current administration gets "mixed" results. (And, based on Warren's video introduction, Hank Paulson gets points only for "assertiveness." Which seems fitting.) And the report's reading on accountability seems especially harsh. It says that any bank plan must include:


Willingness to hold management accountable and to prevent excessive risk-taking in the future;  also, to build public trust that any taxpayer support is designed to protect the system by replacing -- and, in cases of criminal conduct, prosecuting -- failed managers. Accountability for managers appears critical both in terms of public support and in terms of facilitating an accurate assessment of the financial status of sick financial institutions. 

This point gets made several times in the document, and it's hard to interpret it as something other than than a rebuke of the administration for not shooing off guys like Ken Lewis at BofA. (And if there's any illusion that Ken Lewis needs shooing off, here's what he told Fox Business earlier: "I plan to be in the job because I want to get us through this. I want to be on the other side of it to take advantage of the upside and no bank in the world will be better positioned than we will across all the products and geographies.")

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Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.

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