It's scant consolation, but some big-time Charlotte bankers were even slower to unload their plummeting Wachovia and Bank of America shares than I was back in '08. They held onto them to the bitter, they-make-nice-wall-decorations end, Charlotte Observer reporter Rick Rothacker tells us. "It's sad it happened like it did," he quotes one of them, Cliff Cameron, as saying.
Sad? How about unbelievably stupid and—oh, well. These financial geniuses cost our country trillions with their bad loans and derivatives betting, and their Republican friends blame Barack Obama for bankrupting the country? Rothacker's Banktown: The Rise and Struggles of Charlotte's Big Banks is a pretty good telling of how the bankrupting really happened, as seen through the rearview mirrors of the Queen City bankers who got above their raisin'. They proceeded to lose our shirts, if not their pressed-and-folded own, costing once-proud Charlotte about 11,000 jobs.
He can tell you all about it when he's in Raleigh tonight at 7:30. Bottom line: The big boys in Charlotte (post-Hugh McColl) just didn't have a clue. They were the last suckers into the game and the ones left holding an empty bag when it ended. Unfortunately, we staked them. Rothacker also visits the New Hope Commons Barnes & Noble in Durham Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. —Bob Geary