To many, Wall Street's lack of gratitude for TARP—the government's unprecedented bailout of U.S. banks—is infuriating. "Why aren't they more appreciative?" critics ask. In the past year, banks have amassed record profits while their CEOs have railed against the federal government's actions. In September, the radio program This American Life dedicated an entire show to ungrateful "crybabies" with Wall Street traders being the most egregious offenders.But today, in The New York Times, billionaire investor Warren Buffet wants people to know that he is in fact very grateful. In an open letter to "Uncle Sam," the Berkshire Hathaway CEO compliments the government on a job well done:
When the crisis struck, I felt you would understand the role you had to play. But you’ve never been known for speed, and in a meltdown minutes matter. I worried whether the barrage of shattering surprises would disorient you. You would have to improvise solutions on the run, stretch legal boundaries and avoid slowdowns, like Congressional hearings and studies. You would also need to get turf-conscious departments to work together in mounting your counterattack. The challenge was huge, and many people thought you were not up to it.
Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered. People will second-guess your specific decisions; you can always count on that. But just as there is a fog of war, there is a fog of panic — and, overall, your actions were remarkably effective.
I don’t know precisely how you orchestrated these. But I did have a pretty good seat as events unfolded, and I would like to commend a few of your troops. In the darkest of days, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Sheila Bair grasped the gravity of the situation and acted with courage and dispatch. And though I never voted for George W. Bush, I give him great credit for leading, even as Congress postured and squabbled.