Neel Kashkari Named To Control Bailout

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There are times I am so glad to have grown up in the southern US that it makes me silly. Today is one of those times. And it’s all because of the bailout.

Without the bailout, I might not have ever learned about Neel Kashkari. Now before I go there, let me tell you that I do indeed know how to pronounce his name. But way down here in the south I know lots of folks who will pronounce it ‘Cash-Carry’.

Which I think is very apt.

Okay, so enough of the childish humor. Who is this guy? Where did he come from and why are we just now learning his name if he’s smart enough to control the cash he’s carrying for the bailout?

We learn little from his biography at Department of the Treasury (links added by me):

Neel Kashkari was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Economics and Development on July 9, 2008. He was nominated by President Bush on November 15, 2007 and confirmed by the Senate on June 27, 2008. In this role, Mr. Kashkari is responsible for developing and executing policies for the Department to foster a more conducive investment climate for the U.S., as well as to support global economic growth.

Mr. Kashkari joined the Treasury Department in July 2006 as Senior Advisor to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. In that role, he was responsible for developing the President’s Twenty in Ten energy security plan, enhancing Treasury’s engagement with India, particularly in the area of infrastructure development, and developing and executing the Department’s response to the housing crisis, including the formation of the HOPE NOW Alliance, the development of the subprime fast-track loan modification plan, and Treasury’s initiative to kick-start a covered bond market in the United States.

Prior to joining the Treasury Department, Mr. Kashkari was a Vice President at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in San Francisco, where he led Goldman’s IT Security Investment Banking practice, advising public and private companies on mergers and acquisitions and financial transactions. Prior to his career in finance, Mr. Kashkari was a R&D Principal Investigator at TRW in Redondo Beach, California where he developed technology for NASA space science missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

Originally from Stow, Ohio, Mr. Kashkari graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Engineering. He also received an M.B.A. in Finance from the Wharton School. Mr. Kashkari and his wife reside in Maryland.

So, another ex-Goldman Sachs executive makes it into the highest level of our government. How wonderful and lucky we are as a people to have the very same people who created this mess, now in charge of guiding us through it.

Is this too obvious? If it is, at least some media is trying to open the eyes of the public. For instance, over at the Wall Street Journal blog, Heidi writes:

A Goldman Sachs Group alumnus in charge of the nation’s economic rescue? How unusual.

Except, of course, it isn’t. As The Wall Street Journal’s Deborah Solomon reported today, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is promoting Neel Kashkari, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for international affairs, to be the point man overseeing the $700 billion financial bailout as the interim head of Paulson’s Office of Financial Stability. The full appointment would need Senate confirmation, which is unlikely to come given the short remaining tenure in this Administration.

The move essentially puts a new title on what Kashkari he has been doing since he joined Treasury in 2006–examining the consequences of an economic housing fallout. Kashkari was one of three Treasury staffers–including general counsel Robert Hoyt and head of legislative affairs Kevin Fromer–who stayed up until 4 a.m. last Sunday putting together the $700 billion bailout bill that was shot down by House Republicans the next day.

That bill that was shot down was eventually passed last Friday and is now the most expensive bailout in history. Kashkari was one of the 5 people who wrote it. If anyone does truly understand what’s in that law, it should be him.

But, coming as he does from one of the companies primarily responsible for getting us into this mess, I would venture to say that he has no clue how to guide us through it. Neither does Paulson, for that matter. He was much further up on the corporate ladder than Kashkari, and is proportionately more faulted for his part in creating the crisis.

I am Jon, and yes, I am cynical, when it comes to these bozos.

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