Neel Kashkari, the at-the-time little-known Goldman Sachs banker who was put in charge (by Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson) of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (that is, the bank bailouts) in 2008, has been named the new president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank.
As head of TARP, Kashkari was responsible for distributing $700 billion worth of bailout funds to financial institutions struggling to remain solvent in the face of a crisis created by financial institutions. He was famously and repeatedly drubbed by lawmakers for failing to exercise oversight over how the recipients of TARP funds used the cash, especially after the catastrophically inept executives of AIG awarded themselves $503 million in bonuses. Kashkari (and Paulson) refused to put conditions on the money, had no coherent or transparent criteria for determining who got cash, and insisted that funds only went to “healthy” institutions while they desperately spent billions saving Citigroup from collapse (which they lied about to Elizabeth Warren).
After TARP, Kashkari, who was very depressed about a Hamilton Nolan post, decided to move to the woods and build a shed. That is, effectively, the ideal response to reading a Hamilton Nolan item about yourself, and the world would be a better place if all of his targets moved to the woods.
Naturally, his next move, having never actually achieved anything worthwhile in his entire professional career, was to run for office. He launched a campaign for governor of California, running on a platform of being the guy who was briefly in charge of the most widely and broadly hated government response to the financial crisis. Unsurprisingly, he did not win.
Thankfully, there’s another sort of political influence one can grab, without having to go through the arduous trial of earning the support of a majority of a large and diverse population of people. As a longstanding defender of the class interests of the high finance elite, and as an unreconstructed adherent of the ideology that created our new gilded age, Kashkari is the perfect person to be given an unelected position with authority over the nation’s monetary policy.