08u: Justin Timberlake / Ciara
A Special Address from the Secretary of the Treasury
Timothy Geithner.....Will Forte
[ open on Department of Treasury Seal ]
Announcer: The following is a special address from the Secretary of the Treasury.
[ dissolve to Timothy Geithner, seated behind desk ]
Timothy Geithner: Good evening. I'm Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury. Earlier this week, I reported to you the results of the so-called "stress tests" my department ran on the nation's nineteen largest banks. This was an effort to determine each bank's fiscal soundness, following last September's $700 billion federal bailout. Tonight, I would like to reveal to you, the American people, the results of Part 2 of the Stress Test, the written exam, taken by all nineteen bank CEOS last Saturday.
[ reveal Stress Test cover page graphic ]
Initially, my department had planned to give each bank a numerical grade of 1 to 100 -- 100 being a perfect score. But then we decided that might unfairly stigmatize banks who scored low on the test because they followed reckless lending practices or were otherwise not good at banking. So we changed to a simple "PASS/FAIL" system. However, on reflection, a few of us felt that THAT system was too rigid, so we changed it once again to "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 nineteen banks scored a "PASS"! Congratulations, banks!
But that's no reason to just rest on our laurels. There's always room for improvement. NONE of the bank answered all fifty 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.
[ reveal test sheet with repeated answers of "Geithner Sucks!" written on it ]
Shame on you, CitiGroup! And this is a serious matter. I was DEEPLY disappointed with CitiGroup's attitude towards this entire project. And, frankly, if CitiGroup weren't too big to fail, I would have failed them. That's how DISGUSTED I was. But apart from CitiGroup -- who are a bunch of smart ass punks -- the other banks at least took the test seriously. And since we can all learn from our mistakes, I thought we'd take a moment to look at the most commonly missed questions:
[ reveal test sheets throughout ]
#11: "For every ten million in commercial loans outstanding, a bank should have..."
The answer were were looking for was "10% Cash On Hand." J.P. Morgan Chase wrote: "Knicks Tickets." Wells Fargo wrote: "Gulfstream Jet." And CitiGroup, of course, wrote: "Geithner Sucks!" Grow up, CitiBank.
Question 23 also stumped several banks: "If Federal Bank Examiners determine your bank to be under-capitalized, the Bank's Board of Directors should..."
Goldman Saks wrote: "Flee the Country." State Street of Boston said: "Shred Documents." And Capitol One said: "Eliminate Eyewitnesses." Actually, none of these is correct. The correct answer is: "Issue Common Stock."
Now, Question 30, which most banks got wrong, really has no one correct answer since it would vary with each bank. We asked: "In the event of a nationwide run on the banks, how much in total cash assets does your bank have on hand to pay depositors?..."
Bank of America wrote: "Not enough, that's for sure!!!" CitiGroup said: "Geithner Sucks!" And GMAC answered: "TaxPayer Bailout." As you'll notice, that last answer doesn't make sense, and that's because GMAC apparently answered "TaxPayer Bailout" to every one of the fifty questions. Although, that did turn out to be the right answer to thirty of them.
Question 41 tripped up a few banks: "Given their historic underrepresentation in banking, women should be encouraged to enter the field, as long as they are..."
Obviously, we were looking for "Qualified." Morgan Stanley wrote: "Doable." Bank of New York Mellon said: "Immediate Family Members." And CitiGroup wrote: "Hey Geithner, WE'VE got a job for your MOTHER!!" Now, I don't know if they're serious about that job or not, but I think my mother would be really pumped.
Finally, what was the most difficult question? Apparently, this one from the Multiple Choice section:
"Banking executives should be given special financial bonuses for..."
A) Good performance
B) Mediocre performance
C) Poor performance"
The correct answer is A. "Good Performance." Surprisingly, A:: nineteen banks got this wrong. [ he shrugs ] Who knew?
Well, thank you for your kind attention. Together, we'll get through this. And "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!"