A broker betrayed by government bailouts

George Hartzman made good money shorting the banks in the lead up to 2008, but he lost it all when the market was re-inflated through government bailouts, which he says were never fully disclosed.

Hartzman, a retirement and investment plan broker who was let go from Wachovia, is profiled by Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone.

While Hartzman astutely bet against the banks before the financial crisis by shorting companies that inflated during the subprime bubble, he says the lack of financial disclosure after the collapse lead to his deep losses.

[Hartzman] felt like a fool, having bet against companies that essentially had limitless charge cards with the government all along. Had he known, he insists, he would never have stayed short so long.

It was one thing when he'd merely lost money betting against firms without all the data at his fingertips – it was another when companies like his very own former firm Wells Fargo could make (according to Bloomberg) $878 million in profits by availing itself of the secret aid.

"When I saw they made so much profit from this, that's when I got really angry," Hartzman says. "I was like, 'They made $878 million? Hell, no.'"

"That's the thing that really hurts," says the 68 year-old client of George's who lost retirement money. "It's that the banks made money on this, and it really came out of my pocket."


Creative Commons image by inman news taken in Stockton, California