A report in the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine made waves Wednesday for revealing what it called a secret, roundabout bailout of $220 million, given to Wall Street wives by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
"According to popular legend, we're broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year's retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy," writes Matt Taibbi in the April 28 issue of Rolling Stone.
But if this is true, how did these women get such a massive federal handout?
A company called Waterfall TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility) Opportunity received nine loans from the government, totting out to just over $220 million. Among its investors are Christy Mack, wife of Morgan Stanley chairman John Mack, and Susan Karches, widow of Peter Karches, who was the president of Morgan Stanley's investment banking division.
The loans, which Taibbi calls "welfare for the rich," in essence guarantee the women a generous, nearly effort-free income.
Neither Mack nor Karches had direct experience in finance, Taibbi wrote, but with a $15 million upfront investment, they started Waterfall TALF and quickly received the loans from the Fed. Essentially, with the government money, Waterfall could buy student loans and keep any gain, while the Fed and taxpayers took the overwhelming majority of the losses, all in the name of encouraging consumer lending and spending during the recession.
Citing the very same recession, investors like Waterfall TALF said they were too nervous and fragile to take risks, so the government passed over the big bucks.
"You ever watch soccer, where the guy rolls six times to get a yellow card?" says William Black, a former federal bank regulator, told Rolling Stone. "That's what this is. If you have power and connections, they will give you a freebie deal — if you're good at whining."
The article is currently excerpted online here, and the full text will be available in the magazine and online April 15.