In November I had the honor of visiting Syracuse University for the Robert Shetterly and the Americans Who Tell the Truth: Models of Courageous Citizenship portraits celebration. This was following the Washington, D.C. unveiling of five portraits of people honored as whistleblowers by the Government Accountability Project (GAP) where I was honored to be one of them.
The week at Syracuse was filled with events and speeches and one of the highlights that week was the interview for WRVO, a local NPR station, with the interview also being available on podcast through ITUNES.
Every week Grant Reeher, Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, leads a conversation with a notable guest whose work affects the public life of the community – as well as nationally-prominent figures visiting the region to talk about their work.
These podcasts are designed to highlight the character of the interviewee so that one learns about the issue being discussed, and also about the person being interviewed, how they got to where they are, and where they might go. Mr. Reeher attempts to go beyond the usual press conference questions and sound bites.
I had the opportunity to talk about what occurred at Citigroup, when I discovered and started issuing warnings, which were ignored, about the defective mortgages which did not meet our credit policy and which progressively worsened; and of how I was asked not to come back to the bank.
I retold the story of my continual attempts to bring this issue to management and the board of directors and yet the bank continued to sell even larger volumes of the mortgages to investors, knowing full well they did not meet policy requirements.
Mr. Reeher brought the conversation to today and asked what I have learned since the 2008 financial crisis. I expressed my opinion that there is still no accountability for fraud, no downside. The public picks up the tab and all is swept under the rug.
I voiced the concern I have that we’re in for another crisis, bigger than the one in 2008. The Fed has made money so cheap to borrow, and higher levels of corporate debt are being packaged into debt securities just as mortgages were. And investors are clamoring for the additional and yet higher yields offered by many of these more risky securitizations.
Sad to say, each one of us is going to be hurt by the fallout. Enjoy the podcast and let me hear from you. What’s your opinion for the economic future of this country?