Mama Always Said I’d Be the Chosen One

Carl: Welcome to this edition of Squawk Box. I’m joined this morning by Joe Kernen. Becky Quick has taken the day off to work on applications to law school.
Joe: In the studio with us today is one of the giants of the Jersey waste-hauling business, Tony Soprano. Thanks for joining us today, Mr. Soprano.
Tony: Don’t mention it.
Carl: Tell us what’s new in waste-hauling these days.
Tony: We’re settin’ up to do a big business in dese toxics.
Joe: You mean, nuclear waste, that sort of thing?
Tony: Naw. I’m talkin’ about the toxic assets, all dese banks need to get rid of right away. Uncle Sugar is stakin’ us himself, and there’s some sweet deals. Me and the boys at the Bada-Bing, we’re gettin’ in on it, this P-PIP thing.
Carl: You mean the Public-Private Investment Partnerships that Secretary Geithner announced last week?
Tony: Yeah, dat’s it. You heard of leveraged buy-outs, right? Well, this is more like a leveraged give-away. The government puts up 93 cents on th’ dollar, you put up the other 7. You buy dese toxics and hope for the best. It don’t work out, you walk away, raise the rates on your shy business to cover your lost 7. And if it works? Well, you wouldn’t believe the vig. I’ll be able to afford whatever Carmela wants to buy plus an extra Russian girl or two. Maybe get a new boat. All on account of buying dese toxics on the cheap.
Joe: Just for information, they’re not called toxic assets anymore, you know. The word is “legacy.” Say, you can’t smoke in here.
Tony: (Lighting up a cigar) Who cares what they’re called. All I know is, we are bellying up to the trough, along with the big hedge fund players. Was dem that designed the whole thing anyway, dese hedge fund guys, then they just give the plan to little Timmy and said, here. Dis is what you’re gonna do if you wants the likes of us to get you some liquidity back in the system. Where’s the ash tray?
Carl: There’s a trash can right-
Joe: But do you guys have any real experience in working out bad credits?
Tony: (Laughing until he chokes) Sorry. Dat was a good one. We got an entire collections department. Reports to Paulie Walnuts. We have a high recovery rate. One hundred percent from the deadbeats who are still breathing.
Carl: You think the banks are really going to sell at prices that will look attractive?
Tony: Whadda you t’ink? The buyer is owned and largely controlled by the government. It so happens the government regulates and in many cases also owns the banks that are the sellers. How the banks gonna say no, with the government holdin’ a gun to their heads? They don’t play ball, they might find themselves in receivership. The fix is in, see. This is sweeter than anything we ever thought up in the business. I mean the waste haulin’ business.
Joe: But aren’t you worried about populist rage and Congress maybe taxing away your winnings some place down the line?
Tony: I take it you don’t know too much about how political campaigns are financed.
Carl: Well, thanks for spending part of the morning with us, Mr. Soprano. Please join us tomorrow when we will interview Christopher Moltisanti about making it as a screenwriter in Hollywood.
Tony: Umm, you might want to think about bookin’ someone else. Just in case.