Neel Kashkari, off the grid

December 7, 2009

This is a fun story: The $700 billion man (Laura Blumenfeld, WaPo)

It all began as it ended, abruptly. [Neel] Kashkari was a 35-year-old business school graduate from a suburb of Akron, Ohio, who had gone to Washington in 2006 to learn how government worked. Then came the recession, and through a freakish set of circumstances, mixing pluck, cataclysm and luck, he was appointed by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson as the federal bailout chief.

Suddenly, he was in charge of $700 billion.

Congress savaged him. Wall Street Journal editorials doubted him. His home-town buddies urged him to use the money to buy the Cleveland Browns and fire the coaches. His wife spoke to him so rarely, she described them as “dead to each other.” He lost sleep, gained weight and saw a close adviser, Don Hammond, suffer a heart attack at his Treasury desk. On May 1, after serving seven months under Presidents Bush and Obama, he resigned.

Within a week, Kashkari and his wife put their belongings into “indefinite storage.” They moved to a cabin near the Truckee River in Northern California. “Off the map,” he told his friends. He threw away his business cards, and made a list of the things he wanted to do:

1. build shed

2. chop wood

3. lose 20 pounds

4. help with Hank’s book

He called his four-step program “Washington detox.”

Here’s the photo slideshow of Kashkari’s life in the California woods.

UPDATE: Tom Duffy of Outside the Cardboard Box offers this contrasting take on Kashkari.

9 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

When you pull off a $700B heist it’s a good idea to lay low for a while.

Posted by Ludwig | Report as abusive

“We just need time to digest some of the recent developments,” said Ali Khan, head of cash-equity trading at Dubai-based Arqaam Capital Ltd. “

Posted by joey | Report as abusive

EFG Hermes, a regional investment bank, thinks Dubai could owe as much as $150 billion (£91 billion), twice the size of the economy and two and half times its officially declared debt.

Posted by jackson evers | Report as abusive

this guy is ripe for chainsaw kickback.

Good example for those who don’t plan for retirement…after all something may come up like it did for Neel and you’re all set!

Posted by CB | Report as abusive

Yeah soooo funny that PIMCO just hired him.

Posted by callistenes | Report as abusive

I was so incensed by the article last night that I vented in the form of a posted rant:

“Extreme Makeover: WaPo Edition”

http://outsidethe-cardboard-box.tumblr.c om/post/273227581/extreme-makeover-wapo- edition

If I had known about the PIMCO hire earlier, I might be sitting in a clock tower surrounded by RIT right now…

What’s with the outing of the self professed reclusive? (The one from the cardboard box, I mean–NOT the scare monger with the million dollar view.)

Having been a former Washingtonian as well as a public servant, I can sympathize with Mr. Kashkari’s plight – I’m glad to see he went off the grid! He should take this opportunity to not only learn and practice the off the grid lifestyle, but he should start preaching it to everyone else. We will not be successful at reducing energy dependence until we each take the bull by the horns and get off the grid ourselves. Then we will be able to impact our dire energy situation in a positive way! Keep spreading the word. . .

Brian
NetSolarAndWind.com

Posted by Brian J. Walsh | Report as abusive