'Geithner' on SNL

by Chris Sturr | May 12, 2009

Nice critique of the stress tests, and of both Geithner and the 19 banks that took it, in this past Saturday’s SNL opener; recounted by Sudeep Reddy at the WSJ’s Real Time Economics blog:

Saturday Night Live opened with Geithner (played by Will Forte) sitting behind his desk reviewing banks’ submissions for “Part 2″ of the stress tests—a written exam taken by all 19 bank CEOs.

He explains that Treasury initially planned to give each bank a grade of 1 to 100. “But then we decided that that might unfairly stigmatize banks who scored low on the tests because they followed reckless lending practices, or were otherwise not good at banking.’

They changed to a simple pass/fail system, then to a pass/pass*—”this seemed less judgmental and more inclusive.’

“Eventually, at the banks’ suggestion, we dropped the asterisk and went with a pass/pass system. Tonight, I am proud to say that after the written tests were examined, every one of the 19 banks scored a pass. Congratulations, banks.’

He explains that none of the banks answered all 50 questions correctly, and most got less than half right. “One bank in particular—Citigroup—seemed to think the whole thing was just a big joke.’

On screen we see its answers to questions 13 through 15: “Geithner Sucks!’

“I was deeply disappointed with Citigroup’s attitude towards this entire project,’ the Treasury secretary explains. “Frankly, if Citigroup weren’t too big to fail, I would’ve failed them. That’s how disgusted I was.’

Among the other questions and answers:

* Number 11: For every 10 million in commercial loans outstanding, a bank should have …

“The answer we were looking for was 10% cash on hand.’

J.P. Morgan Chase wrote: Knicks Tickets
Wells Fargo wrote: Gulfstream jet
Citigroup wrote: Geithner Sucks!

* Number 23: If federal bank examiners determine your bank to be under-capitalized, the bank’s board of directors should …

Goldman Sachs wrote: Flee the Country
State Street of Boston said: Shred documents
Capital One said: Eliminate eyewitnesses

The Geithner stand-in explains, “GMAC apparently answered ‘taxpayer bailout’ to every one of the 50 questions. Although that did turn out to be the right answer to 30 of them.’

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