Monday, May 18, 2009

Pension Scandal Window into Corporafornication

Political insiders selling influence? Besides record lobby spending, the current pension "pay for play" scandal offers a view into the sordid business. Bloomberg reported:

“When you look at some of who the placement agents are, you say these are people who are really not in the financial business,” said Orin Kramer, who oversees pensions as head of New Jersey’s Investment Council. “These are politically connected intermediaries, and that’s not a way it ought to operate.”

Indictments and civil complaints filed by regulators so far depict public officials allowing such connections and financial self-interest to trump merit when deciding who will be entrusted to invest taxpayer money.

The Carlyle Group settled with New York for $20 million for its role in a pay to play scandal. President Obama sees private equity underwriters (PEU's) like Carlyle as the solution to America's economic problems. Shadow bankers will soon invest alongside Uncle Sam in distressed assets. PEU's will partner to buy banks, while avoiding any serious regulatory scrutiny. PEU affiliates will line up at Treasury's cash window to fund supplies, executive incentive compensation and their pension obligations.

Don't linger too long at the Corporafornication window. It's unseemly. But you have to wonder, how long can they keep doing it?