Nearly 20 months after the fiscal collapse they engineered almost destroyed the global economy, the movers-and-shakers on Wall Street have had an epiphany.
At a press conference held this morning at a soup kitchen in Manhattan’s downtrodden Bowery, a dozen of the most powerful investment titans announced that billions of dollars in bonuses they have siphoned from federal bailout funds will be donated to a new charitable foundation. The $800-billion fund officially will be called Angels of Walls Street, but some insiders at the big investment banks are referring to it as “Our Ticket Out of Hell.”
“We can’t live with this anymore,” a tearful Richard Fuld told a room full of astonished business and financial journalists. “You know we’re guilty, we know we’re guilty, everybody knows we’re guilty.”
Fuld, the former chief of now-defunct Bear Stearns, said the idea for a bonus-financed charitable foundation came to him last week as he was crossing a busy Manhattan intersection and was almost struck by a vehicle that veered across three lanes of traffic. “This is the sixth time this has happened to me in the past month, and none of the cars were Toyotas,” he said. “It occurred to me that this might not be a mechanical malfunction associated with unintended acceleration.”
The idea for converting bailout bonuses into a new charity really developed a head of steam when Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was fished out of the Gowanus Canal on Monday afternoon.
Blankfein, who appeared confused as he was pulled from the notorious Brooklyn waterway, claimed he was inspecting the nation’s newest Superfund toxic waste site as “a possible investment opportunity.” However, sources close to Goldman said Blankfein has been “extremely depressed” in recent weeks.
At a Goldman board meeting convened to finalize plans for new derivatives that would purchase individual life insurance policies, bundle and sell them to investors, and then place short-selling side bets on when the individual would die, witnesses said Blankfein burst into tears and shouted at the board.
“This is the Devil’s work!” he reportedly screamed.
Former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, who presided over Citigroup when the world’s largest bank disintegrated, said the first task of the Angels of Wall Street foundation will be to purchase 10 million foreclosed homes and give them back to their original residents.
Former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain told the press conference he is donating $45-million worth of Japanese origami sculptures he purchased to decorate his office bathroom shortly before the financial collapse.
Standing on the side of the room during the press gathering, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan said he was “gobsmacked” by today’s announcement.
“As you know, I had no idea that bankers could be greedy and irresponsible,” he said. “But if anyone had told me they all would suddenly wake up one day with a guilty conscience, I would have bet my life savings that was impossible.”
Reached at his federal jail cell in North Carolina, Bernie Madoff said he was “sad but pleased” to hear the news.
“Confession is good for the soul,” Madoff said. “At the end of the day, it’s only money.”