What's under the financial-crisis Christmas tree

By Steven Pearlstein
Friday, December 18, 2009; A24

Santa Claus

North Pole

Dear Santa,

I know it's been quite a while since I've written -- the last time was that year I found Dad in front of the fireplace holding the glass of milk I had left you, with crumbs from the Oreo cookies still stuck between his teeth. But with the miraculous rebound in stock prices and Wall Street profits since last year's financial crisis, I've become a believer again. So I've enclosed my 2009 Christmas wish list -- nothing for myself, of course, but a few things for others who have been more nice than naughty and may warrant some attention from you this holiday season:

For Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, one free pass from the U.S. Senate, good for the confirmation of any former Wall Street executive to any position in his department.

For White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a seat on the Brookings Institution board and a lifetime pass to the Aspen Ideas Festival.

For Sen. Richard Shelby, ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, a Rolex watch without a hour hand, a minute hand or a second hand, so he won't be bothered by how long it takes him to make up his mind.

For Rep. Barney Frank, chairman, and the entire staff of the House Financial Services Committee, a week without a hearing.

For Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, an autographed Jim Bunning Louisville Slugger and an official "Ron Paul for President" T-shirt.

For Jamie Dimon, chief executive of J.P Morgan Chase, a floor plan of the Treasury building, so he can begin to learn his way around.

For Richard Fuld, former chairman of Lehman Brothers, a DVR, so he can replay all the decisions he made from 2006 to 2008 enough times that he can find just one mistake.

For Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, a cashmere sackcloth to wear while doing God's work.

For Vikram Pandit, chief executive of Citigroup, a key to the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in case he needs to get in again.

For the enforcement staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission, a weekend cruise, with crew, on Bull, a 22-foot yacht once owned by some guy named Madoff.

For Steve Rattner, former head of the White House autos task force, a 2010 Saturn Sky Roadster.

For Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council, an autographed copy of Bernanke's Time Person of the Year cover.

For Ken Lewis, outgoing chief executive of Bank of America, the $87,000 area rug, $68,000 credenza and $28,000 curtains that came with his company's purchase of Merrill Lynch.

For Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader, an autographed copy of Ian Fleming's "Dr. No."

For Sen. Joe Lieberman, his very own Medicare card.

For Alan Greenspan, former Fed chairman, a knife, a fork and a crow.

For U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, something to do in 2010.

For Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., one entirely pleasant conversation with Geithner.

For Jerry Speyer, chairman of Tishman Speyer, a leather-bound copy of New York City's rent-stabilization laws to keep on the shelf at his Stuyvesant Town office.

For Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an Apple iPhone and a Nike cap (to trade).

For His Highness Sheik Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai, an empty office building built in the shape of a palm tree.

For Bill Green, chief executive of Accenture, a lifetime supply of "Be a Tiger" golf towels.

Thanks for your help. I hope you and Mrs. Claus get a chance to get away for a well-deserved rest after the holiday rush. I hear they're offering some great deals on Las Vegas condos.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Pearlstein

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