Kristian Rouz – Following in the footsteps of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their ‘Clinton Foundation’, ex-US President Barack Obama is reportedly giving $400,000 speeches to Wall Street companies through his own ‘Obama Foundation’. Whilst President Trump has blasted the scheme as high-profile corruption serving the needs of special interests during his last year’s presidential campaign, the practice of paid speeches given by the retired top US officials is alive and well.
Obama, seemingly, has no issue with this. In August, he delivered a speech to the clients of Northern Trust for roughly $400,000, describing his experiences whilst in the White House to prominent participants of the US financial markets.
Earlier this month, Obama appeared at one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, Carlyle, and sources say, he was discussing his tenure at the White House as well.
There was a time when Obama labelled the Wall Street bankers as ruthless capitalists who are taking advantage of the regular folk, and his electoral campaigns in 2008 and 2012 were built around the promises to help the poor and disadvantaged. In fact, his Wall Street-benefitting policies aside, Obama is now serving special interests for ‘donations’, the very practice of Hillary Clinton’s that he criticized years ago.
Bankers have a very favorable opinion of Obama’s Wall Street speeches, because he can provide them with valuable insight into how to build their corporate governance and government-relations. Does that benefit the American people though?
“He was the president of the entire United States – financial services are under that umbrella,” ex-UBS Group executive Robert Wolf says. “He doesn’t look at Wall Street like, ‘Oh, these are individuals who don’t want the best for the country.’ He doesn’t stereotype.”
Even though Obama’s speeches at Northern Trust and Carlyle happened a while ago, they went largely unnoticed, and unreported by the mainstream media. These two enterprises are known for having very tight connections with a wide spectrum of former governmental officials, and corporate-sector executives, among others.
Northern Trust’s main sphere of interest is managing the assets of wealthy families, and capital allocation for large investment funds and syndicates. Alongside Obama, other people spoke at the event last month, including Michael Bloomberg, and CEOs from Microsoft and IBM.
Northern Trust has a long-lasting story with Obama. Back in 2005, Northern gave Obama a discount on a $1.3 mln home-loan – in fact, a mansion that Obama was building in Chicago at the time. Obama had just been elected to Senate, and Northern gave him a more favorable interest rate on the loan.
Northern haven’t commented on the events, whilst Obama claimed in 2008 that the rate was changed because another lender was offering more favorable loan conditions, and Northern didn’t want to lose such a promising borrower.
Under Obama, the largest financials thrived, whilst smaller lenders and credit unions balanced on the brink of survival, and many small businesses closed in the monopoly environment. In fact, Obama’s financial sector regulations curbed small business lending, whilst large Wall Street financials continued to extract immense profits, mainly from trading.
“I love Barack Obama, and if someone is willing to pay him to give a speech, God bless America,” Tom Nides, Vice Chairman at Morgan Stanley, one of Wall Street’s largest banks.
The Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary conditions – under Obama – pumped trillions into the Wall Street financials, and hardly any of this money reached the non-financial sector. The recovery in the real economy has been weak for almost a decade – under Obama – and wages stagnant, yet – home prices and rents, fueled by the Wall Street expansion, would rise every single year.
Obama’s policies impaired and undermined the well-being of the average American family, with shared responsibility payment, with low-interest debt-accumulation and non-repayable student loans. However, now Obama is reaping the benefit of his friendly attitude towards Wall Street in collecting his $400,000 pay check.