The men with Geithner’s ear

By Felix Salmon
October 8, 2009
tallies Tim Geithner's phone calls:

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The AP tallies Tim Geithner’s phone calls:

In the first seven months of Geithner’s tenure, his calendars reflect at least 80 contacts with Blankfein, Dimon, Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons or Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit…

Ken Lewis appears on Geithner’s calendars only three times. Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack also appears three times.

Why would Geithner speak to Paulson Blankfein so much more frequently than Mack? Well, there’s always this:

Mack was on the phone with Mitsubishi’s chief executive, Nobuo Kuroyanagi, and a translator trying to nail down the letter of intent. His assistant interrupted him, whispering, “Tim Geithner is on the phone—he has to talk to you.”

Cupping the receiver, Mack said, “Tell him I can’t speak now. I’ll call him back.”

Five minutes later, Paulson called. “I can’t. I’m on with the Japanese. I’ll call him when I’m off,” he told his assistant.

Two minutes later, Geithner was back on the line. “He says he has to talk to you and it’s important,” Mack’s assistant reported helplessly.

Mack was minutes away from reaching an agreement. He looked at Ji-Yeun Lee, who was standing in his office helping with the deal, and told her, “Cover your ears.”

“Tell him to get fucked,” Mack said of Geithner. “I’m trying to save my firm.”

Geithner should, in the interest of listening to the people who are going to tell him something he doesn’t already know, have made extra effort to talk to Mack after being told by him to get fucked. But the guy’s only human, and it’s understandable that he might not have.

Update: I thought “Blankfein” when I was posting this, but wrote “Paulson”. Wonder what that means. Many thanks to Justin Fox for noticing.

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