Two Remarkable Days in Washington

If you spend every day of your professional life immersed in the Las Vegas real estate market as we do, you can’t help but watch with interest the latest goings on in Washington. If you happen to be a fan of theater of the absurd, it was hard to beat opening day testimony on Wednesday as the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission got under way on Capital Hill. Four titans of Wall Street sat before Congress and the American public and acted as if they still didn’t understand fully what happened to the financial system, the housing market, and worst of all, how it all affected the American people. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs actually compared the financial crisis to a hurricane nobody could have predicted, as if Goldman traders had never shorted their CDO positions in anticipation of a collapse in the residential real estate market. Too much for words …

The very next day, a visibly angry President Obama walked in front of the White House cameras (with his economic team standing stoically behind him) and announced his proposal for a new tax on the nation’s largest financial institutions. Clearly determined to get every penny of the TARP money back and more disgusted than ever with Wall Street greed, the President laid out the logic behind his new tax in some of the harshest language thus far employed in relation to this matter. Was it just me, or did Secretary Geitner look a little pained and uncomfortable over the announcement while OMB Director Orszag appeared almost delighted? Maybe Peter was just thinking to himself about his rather exciting personal life, who knows?

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