Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Quotes of the day

[Larry] Summers doesn't do "dispassionate" and he didn't want to limit himself to fielding others' advice--he had plenty of his own to offer. In other words, he was supposed to be the referee, but he also wanted to play power forward. This rankled other members of the economic team, including Austan Goolsbee, Christina Romer, and Peter Orszag, enough that they're widely presumed to be the sources of many of the leaks. Summers's tendency toward bureaucratic infighting was another problem. As Jonathan Alter lays out in his forthcoming book, "The Promise," Summers maneuvered to sideline people like Paul Volcker, Joe Stiglitz, and even Orszag, behavior more characteristic of the Clinton administration than the Obama administration.--Joshua Green

At a recent White House lunch with President Barack Obama and a handful of other executives, Mr. Dimon, 54 years old, complained to the president that the administration's anti-bank rhetoric "isn't helpful," because it demoralizes businesses and employees, according to a person familiar with his comments. Mr. Dimon's disdain for the process has been crescendoing for some time. Last spring, he showed his irritation over the Treasury's requirement that banks raise fresh funds before they quit TARP. Speaking at a June hospitality industry conference in New York, Mr. Dimon read aloud a fictitious letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. "Dear Timmy, we are happy to be able to pay back the $25 billion you lent us. We hope you enjoyed the experience as much as we did." ... With the crisis in full bloom, he also publicly backed TARP, accepting $25 billion in federal funds in October 2008 even though he insisted J.P. Morgan didn't need or ask for the capital. The TARP program was "good for the system, which means it's also good for J.P. Morgan. And we didn't think that J.P. Morgan should be selfish or parochial and stand in the way of doing something that's good for the system," Mr. Dimon explained to investors in November that year. But Mr. Dimon's patience with Washington soon wore thin as political leaders tried to force banks that had taken TARP funds to lend more and slash executive compensation. He was particularly rankled by a new rule putting visa restrictions on TARP recipients who wanted to hire skilled foreign workers. Although the curbs didn't affect many J.P. Morgan employees, Mr. Dimon was infuriated, telling his colleagues the move was "un-American," say people who heard his remarks. On a conference call to discuss the bank's earnings, Mr. Dimon referred to the TARP program as a "scarlet letter." --Robin Sidel and Damian Paletta

At a certain point this season, my Cornell teammates and I realized we weren't being led by your typical college basketball coach. Steve Donahue, formally known as Coach D, came to be known as "Captain D" as the season wore on. It started as an inside joke within the team because of his propensity to stand on top of a rollaway basket on our side courts overseeing practice (like a sea captain posts himself atop his vessel's perch and gazes intently out at sea and the boat's course). Coach's new name gained further steam when he continued to use the phrase "stay the course" at every possible moment: before practice, after practice, after a win, after a loss, etc. It was all to make sure we knew we wouldn't achieve any of our goals if we weren't the hardest-working team in the country that day. And even though the name's still funny, I realized - maybe during our Sweet 16 run this March - the persona of Captain D is what separates him from other college basketball coaches. A coach has to know his Xs and Os, be able to motivate his players, manage game strategy and recruit. While Coach D excels in all of these areas, Captain D inspires extreme self-confidence in his players. Even if we weren't one of the best 16 teams in the country this season, each member of our team was 100 percent certain we were. ... For those who don't know what Cornell basketball was like before Steve Donahue got here, picture the New Jersey Nets trying to compete with the Lakers (Penn) and the Cavs (Princeton) without the promise of free agency and NBA lottery picks (scholarships). Starting from the cellar, he had to shatter the seemingly bulletproof monopoly that the P schools had on the Ivy League.--Jon Jacques

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