Tags: Financial Markets | Money | Steve Bannon | chief strategist | economic crisis | Wall Street

Bannon's Views Shaped by '08 Economic Crisis, Wall Street Bailout

Image: Bannon's Views Shaped by '08 Economic Crisis, Wall Street Bailout
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 10:40 PM

The 2008 financial crisis shaped White House counselor and chief strategist Steve Bannon's ideology of "economic nationalism" and resistance to globalization.

On Oct. 7 of that year, Bannon's father, Marty, saw the value of his stock in AT&T plunge because of the crisis — leading him to sell the shares he had built up over 50 years with the company, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Marty Bannon, now 95, considered the shares an insurance policy for his five children.

He regrets selling the stock — and remains embittered at how the federal government bailed out large companies at the expense of everyday Americans.

"That day, I found out how dumb the people were who I thought were smart," Bannon said in an interview in his home in Richmond, Va. "They couldn't control the situation, and it escalated during the day.

"I said, 'This thing is going so fast I'm going to be totally wiped out.'"

Bannon said he lost more than $100,000 because he sold the shares for less than he paid for them — and they eventually regained their value.

"It wasn't a winner, so . . ." he later added. "Shame on me that I made that decision."

Still, the crisis — and the subsequent Wall Street bailout — infuriated one of this three sons, Steve, sending him on an ideological journey that eventually landed him at Breitbart News and, ultimately, in the White House with President Donald Trump.

"The only net worth my father had beside his tiny little house was that AT&T stock," Steve Bannon, 63, told the Journal in an interview. "And nobody is held accountable?

"All these firms get bailed out. There's no equity taken from anybody.

"There's no one in jail," he added. "These companies are all overleveraged, and everyone looked the other way."

He reiterated his disposition is tied to the impact of that 2008 plunge on his father.

"Everything since then has come from there," Bannon said. "All of it."

A graduate of Virginia Tech, Bannon holds a master's degree in national security studies from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

He has served in the Navy, worked for Goldman Sachs, briefly oversaw Biosphere 2 — a domed terrarium in Arizona — and became an Oscar-nominated producer in Hollywood, the Journal reported.

Throughout the years, Bannon remained close to his father — and now talks with him daily.

"He's the backbone of the country, the everyman who plays by the rules, the hardworking dad that delays his own gratification for the family," Steve Bannon told the Journal. "The world is probably 95 percent Marty Bannons, and 5 percent Steve Bannons.

"And that's probably the right metric for a stable society."

In Hollywood, Bannon's work grew more partisan after the financial crisis.

A 2010 documentary of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice presidential candidate, brought an introduction to Andrew Breitbart, who had not long launched his news website.

Breitbart.com was as much a financial opportunity as a political one for Bannon, his former colleagues told the Journal. He redesigned the site in 2012, moving it even farther to the right.

Bannon's objective was to make Breitbart "the first and the loudest" on such issues as illegal immigration and the U.S. trade deficit, editor in chief Alex Marlow told the Journal.

"He saw a media land-grab going on, and he wanted to lay claim to as much territory as possible," he said.

Now that he is in the White House, Bannon said his ideology was less about Republicans and Democrats than about middle class versus elites — or nationalists versus globalists.

He opposes open borders, political corruption — and what he considers political correctness.

Wall Street's greed created the environment that jeopardized his father's investments, Bannon believes, and the Washington establishment failed to prevent it.

"The problem we've had is that in the ascendant economy —Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Hollywood — the Marty Bannons of the world were getting washed out to sea, and nobody was paying attention to them," he told the Journal.

"His job was everything, but his paycheck was a way to be part of civic society," he continued. "As a child, he never talked at all about how high the AT&T stock was.

"It was the Little League season or the charity event at the church or the May queen."

The elder Bannon, who voted for Trump in November, noted while many others were left off far worse because of the crisis, the "fat cats" were taken care of by the bailout — and middle-class Americans received little assistance.

"The government created this problem," Marty Bannon told the Journal. "The elites, they got bailed out.

"Everybody else in the country, whatever happened, happened, and they just had to move on."

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The 2008 financial crisis shaped White House counselor and chief strategist Steve Bannon's ideology of "economic nationalism" and resistance to globalization.
Steve Bannon, chief strategist, economic crisis, Wall Street
Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017 10:40 PM
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