In an interview for this article, William Black, a former bank regulator who exposed the $160 billion Savings & Loan scandal and its ties to powerful U.S. Senators, remarked,“Summers wasn’t hired [by Revolution Money] for his expertise because he doesn’t have relevant expertise in this kind of credit card operation.”
“He’s not a techie. He doesn’t have business expertise,” Black said. “So this is solely someone hired for the name and contacts because he’s politically active and politically connected. And that’s made all the more clear by the fact that Frank Raines was put on the board at a time when he was pushed out in disgrace from Fannie Mae. Why? Because of his political connections.”
And it worked, as the recent investment shows.
“That’s the pattern of this entity,” said Black, “Which hasn’t been doing well financially and desperately needs to get money from others, and has been able to get money from banks at a time when [these same banks] largely stopped lending to productive enterprises. But with this politically-connected entity [Revolution Money], they’re happy to dump money.”
According to a company spokesperson, Summers resigned from the board of directors at Revolution Money this January, just three months before the banks invested. On one of Revolution Money’s main websites, Revolution Money Exchange, you could still see Summers’ name still listed as a director when this story was filed
(Oddly, company filings obtained for this article show that Summers wasn’t even on Revolution Money’s board of directors in 2007-8, even though both he and Revolution Money repeatedly stated that he was on the board, and only served on GratisCard’s board in 2006, “c/o Revolution GC Holdings LLC.”)
Whatever the case, Summers was pushing Revolution Money as recently as last September, in an interview with Portfolio magazine:
“I’ve enjoyed being involved with a number of smaller companies such as the Revolution Money venture, which has a potentially very exciting credit-card technology, using credit and debit technology, using the internet that, in a sense, brings together bricks and clicks by providing both a capacity for regular retail transactions and also for online.”
Whether or not Summers has a personal interest in the company, it still stinks that a company where the head of the National Economic Council served on the board of until just a few months ago subsequently received millions in investment funds from banks Summers bailed out. Taxpayer dollars went into these banks, and from the banks into the Summers-connected firm, a firm he was hired onto precisely because his connections could bring in this kind of money.
His involvement wasn’t just incidental—if you look at the press releases, Larry Summers’ name is always touted as part of its selling point — one press release in 2007 refers to Summers as “Legendary.”
Moreover, Summers’ longtime chief of staff, Marne Levine, who also served as Summers’ chief of staff when he was in Treasury under Clinton and again at Harvard, joined Summers at Revolution Money, serving as “Director of Product Management.”
Black pointed out another sleazy aspect of Revolution Money’s pitch: it proudly boasted in late 2007 that it would make it easier than ever for people with low credit ratings to find access to lines of credit. In other words, Revolution Money billed itself as the ultimate ghetto loan shark.
According to a 2007 press release, the same one boasting of “Legendary” Larry Summers, “Unlike most bank credit card issuers who are limited to a narrow scope of credit approval guidelines specific to their bank, RevolutionCard seamlessly utilizes multiple partners to achieve unparalleled consumer approval rates.”
Nineteen months later, Larry Summers, now in control of the economy, told Meet The Press, “We need to do things to stop the marketing of credit in ways that addicts people to it and so that our households are again savings, and families are again preparing to send their kids to college, for their retirement and so forth.”
So once again, Larry Summers creates a problem that the rich profit from, then is put in charge of “fixing” it after vulnerable Americans have been picked clean.
Whether or not the three bailed-out banks’ investment in Revolution Money last month represents some kind of bribe or kickback or even the appearance of corruption is almost secondary, because the shameless cronyism is the problem, and this is the reason why America is in the horrible mess today.
“Polite society was supposed to impose social pressures to make sure this wasn’t tolerated,” Black said. “Like the old phrase about hogs being slaughtered. But now the hogs get even wealthier, even fatter.”
Everything about Summers, from his horrible track record in the developing world in the 1990s to the sleaze and plunder he’s overseeing in the White House should make us terrified. Hell, he even looks like some old Batman villain: Summers, whose trademark bullfrog neck was enough of a distraction before Obama brought him into the White House, has seen his gelatinous layers of neck-fat swell up like an amphibian guarding its eggs ever since he took control of the economy.
Get this monster out of the White House now, before he devours us all.
This article first appeared in Alternet.
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