Bureaucrats who try to restrict business and redistribute wealth "put balls and chains on good people, and bad things happen," says BB&T head John A. Allison IV.
Like Alan Greenspan, Allison is a follower of objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand — one who spent the past 40 years building his bank from a small local operation to a regional presence that has weathered the financial crisis far better than most of its rivals.
Allison says the federal government, which forced BB&T and some other healthy banks to accept money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is trying to obscure the fact that it was simply trying to save several large banks, like Citigroup.
“Everyone thinks we got some kind of subsidy,” Allison told The New York Times, adding that his company paid the money back in June, with interest.
“It’s going to cost us about $250 million for money we didn’t want.”
Yet despite what Allison sees as the current bleak state of capitalism, he remains optimistic about the future.
“In some ways, Ayn Rand filled in the ideas of Aristotle,” he says.
“It’s a whopping competitive advantage.”
According to TARP Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky, taxpayers have been kept in the dark on how TARP recipients are using the money or the value of the investments.
“Treasury’s default position should always be to require more disclosure rather than less and to provide the investors in TARP — the American taxpayers — as much information about what is being done with their money as possible,” Barofsky said in a recent report.
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