Bloomberg has a major exclusive:
Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) — The deal to rescue the world’s best- known bank was pieced together by regulators over Domino’s pizza in near-empty offices one block from the White House …
In the middle of the meeting, Paulson called Bernanke, telling him that he and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, whose agency guarantees bank deposits and some debt, were still negotiating details, according to the person. Meanwhile, about 20 staffers were working at FDIC offices a block from the White House, subsisting on Domino’s pizza for dinner at around 8 p.m. and working on the deal until about 11:30 p.m., according to a person familiar with the matter.
Eh? The biggest bank failure yet, and we’re focusing on the food they orderered?
But wait – isn’t this all slightly familiar? Rewind back to the start of October, when UK officials were putting together the rescue package for Britain’s high street banks. Here’s the Guardian at the time on the key points of the deal:
In the Treasury war room overlooking St James’s Park, central London, his chancellor, Alistair Darling, was thrashing out the details of the bail-out with ministers, lawyers and executives from the eight leading banks …
Anticipating the long and tense night ahead for him and his team, Darling had taken matters in hand at 8.30pm, personally ringing one of his favourite restaurants, Gandhi’s in Kennington, south London, to order £245 worth of rice, karahi lamb, tandoori chicken, vegetable curry and aloo gobi.
What is it with this obsession over what officials or liquidators were munching (and what time they placed the order) as they put together bailout packages late at night? Well, Lucy Kellaway is on hand to explain:
Newspaper articles in these tumultuous, fatal, not-seen-since-the-Great-Depression times are so tightly packed with cliché it is hard to do anything other than join in.
To get the tone right, one needs to use clichés of four different sorts. First is the geological seam of seismic shifts, landscapes, earthquakes and meltdowns. Second is the newer, more vicious, medical imagery of injected, sharp, toxic, pumped, fatal and reeling. Third is the cliché of banal detail: what time it is, what people are eating, what their complexions look like (but only if pale) followed by another look at the clock. The only mundane cliché not to have been seen once in the last six weeks is “smoke-filled rooms” as that is now illegal. The fourth sort of cliché is to declare everything the worst since 1929 or the worst in living memory.
So there you are. Sounds like an excellent excuse for a new version of Meeting Bingo…