BILL MOYERS: What's your explanation as an economist. And a student of this financial system as to why the banks are taking so long to help the homeowners when Congress has allocated funds for that purpose?
SIMON JOHNSON: I'm afraid that it's pretty obvious and it's very tragic. That they have no interest in helping the homeowners. They make money with what they're doing. Bill, they'll expected a lot of these mortgages they made to default, okay? It was in their models. A high default rate. Now, they didn't expect house prices to come down so much. That's where they got their losses. But they absolutely made these loans expecting they would have to foreclose on people. And figuring they would make money on that.
These are very smart, very profit-oriented people. I can assure you, if there was money in it for them. They would be negotiating you know, very various kinds of re-schedulings of these loans. They don't want to do it. They it's not in their interest. It's not where the money is.
This is capitalism, Bill. That's what they're supposed to do. They represent their shareholders, they're appointed by the board of directors to make money for their shareholders. And the way they think that they can best make money is to shape the regulatory rules around housing around derivatives, around all everything we used to have that kept the financial sector under control. Has all been, you know, washed away, one way or another, by their efforts, right? They make money in the boom, that way. And when and when bad things happen, they shove all the downside onto the taxpayer. That's what they're doing their job.
MARCY KAPTUR: It's socialism for the big banks. Because they've basically taken their mistakes and they've put it on the taxpayer. That's the government. That's socialism. That isn't capitalism.
SIMON JOHNSON: Well people some people call that lemon socialism. So, when it turns out to be a lemon, it's you it's yours, the taxpayer. When it turns out to be good, it's mine, I'm Wall Street.