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Bush Adviser: We Will Not 'Micromanage' Banks

CBNC just concluded a long and productive interview with Ed Lazear, President Bush's chief economic adviser, discussing today's $250 billion partial nationalization of U.S. banks.

"We are not about to micromanage banks," Lazear said. "We still believe that the private sector is the appropriate place for conducting business.

"The last thing we want to do," Lazear said, "is to become interventionist." Presumably, Lazear meant from an operational standpoint; simply by investing in private banks, the government has become interventionist.

Lazear ticked off the three reasons why taxpayers should not be concerned that today's nationalization plan is an abandonment of U.S. capitalism:

- The U.S. government will not get voting rights in the banks it buys into.

- The U.S. government will not take seats on the boards of the banks.

- The banks have the opportunity to buy back their shares from the U.S. government if and when they get healthy enough to do so. "And then the government will be out of it completely," Lazear said.

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo asked Lazear if the government will next intervene in other troubled U.S. sectors, such as the auto industry.

"The financial sector makes all the other sectors go," Lazear said. "We don't really look to [get into] other sectors to get those going," though he stopped short of ruling out the possibility.

Lazear said the economy's third quarter will likely show worse performance than the second quarter, in terms of growth, and the fourth quarter likely will be worse still.

"This has been a huge shock -- there's no denying it," Lazear said. "It's tough for the economy to shake that off."

Lazear's claim to economic fame comes from the field of employee compensation.

In 1981 while at Stanford, Lazear wrote a paper that found that highly-paid chief executives are not being compensated on whether or not they do a good job as a CEO, they're being reward for all the work it took to get them to CEO.

Here's a Stanford review of Lazear's paper.

--Frank Ahrens

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 14, 2008; 5:03 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  
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Just the exact opposite of what I want to hear. I want banks to be regulated and have government oversight (bipartisan). I want caps on leveraging, and I want caps on credit card interest rate - NO USURY! I want transparency. The Republicans and their deregulations and lack of transparency have to go!!!

Posted by: Janet | October 14, 1908 6:14 PM | Report abuse

No voting rights?! Dumdums. Would you get off your damned ideology and do something right? We *need* voting rights. Making nice speeches with "pretty please, dear bankers, please correctly use this money we are handing you" is not going to hack it.

How many times can these keystone kops make the same mistake?

Posted by: fzdybel | October 14, 1908 6:15 PM | Report abuse

I am sure glad to hear that America's bankers will be allowed to continue to make all their decisions without government meddling, NOT. What are these government officials thinking? Are American bankers so good at making their own unencumbered and unregulated decisions? I want some of that Kool-Aid, or, at least a few million unrestricted taxpayer dollars in my pockets would be nice.

Posted by: Steve | October 14, 1908 7:10 PM | Report abuse

We have new problems this way. Thanks for your dedicated coverage and hard work. Time for a break to deal with more pressing concerns here. Let us know how those bad banks work. We have bad schools here as the kids get drawn into the new monkey politics. Trying to prevent a bigger God dam America mess than we already have. It's looking like a bad movie around here. Noted, they won't micromanage the bankruptcy. Maybe the Post can. Keep looking for work.


Posted by: Night Mayor | October 14, 1908 11:08 PM | Report abuse

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