The Kansas Certified Commercial Investment Member's 2010 lifetime achievement award winner told the group Thursday that a coalition of government, big business and Wall Street special interests threaten the commercial real estate community and the nation's economy.
Steve Clark, owner of Clark Investment Group, joined Mike and Nestor Weigand, Jack DeBoer, George Ablah, the late Jack Hunt and Colby Sandlian as winners of the CCIM award.
He devoted much of his Thursday afternoon speech to the financial meltdown, saying that special interests with a grip on Washington politics threaten the financial future of the United States.
"Much of what's going on is just plain blatant corruption," Clark said, calling the relationship between the White House and Wall Street — across Republican and Democratic administrations —"incestuous."
"The very people who are responsible for causing much of the financial carnage are now the ones in charge of cleaning it up," Clark said.
He called the bailout of Goldman Sachs by the George W. Bush administration and then-treasury chief Henry Paulson, a former Goldman CEO, "one of the most egregious examples."
"While running Goldman, Paulson oversaw the creation of billions of dollars of the most toxic mortgage securities and collateralized debt obligations that were ultimately responsible for the financial meltdown," Clark said.
"Even worse, at the height of the frenzy, Goldman later admitted that they were placing short positions to bet against the very mortgage securities that they were selling to investors. They essentially said it was not their problem that the buyers had not done their due diligence."
He said that Goldman made billions from the insurance they bought against those deals from AIG, the insurance giant also bailed out by the federal government "to the tune of $182 billion in taxpayer money that went to the giant insurance company.
"Goldman Sachs then became the single largest beneficiary of the AIG bailout," Clark said. "AIG served as a conduit to get Goldman a payoff at 100 cents on the dollar on all the worthless paper they held that was insured by AIG.
"Goldman took home $12.9 billion dollars."