Welcome back, Kashkari .
Neel Kashkari may have escaped to the woods of California, but that hasn’t spared him a vicious skewering by the Huffington Post, which ridiculed the Washington Post’s weekend profile of the former Treasury exec and his six-month quest to overcome the stress of orchestrating the $700 billion bailout, and the hostility it provoked in Congress, by building a shed, chopping wood, losing 20 pounds – and helping Hank Paulson with his book.
“Oh me, oh my! Who is this poor soul, wrecked in the economic free-fall, forced to wander the woods like a latter-day Jack London, building fires, dodging bear leavings?,” Jason Linkins writes in the HuffPo. “Someone on the margins of society, finally pushed out into the wild by unemployment? A member of the modern middle class, temporarily resorting to the skill set of his pioneering ancestors? No. It's... Neel Kashkari? Oh, for frack's sake, Washington Post!”
The vitriol isn’t reserved for the newspaper, however. “You would not believe how hard the stubbled-but-not-unBlackberried Kashkari has had it since he left Washington, because seriously, you simply do not care,” the HuffPo continues, “But the Post tracked him down to Nevada County, California, where he built a shed in the middle of the woods in which to encase all of his remarkable pathos.” The blog adds that building a shed was on Kashkari’s “list of things he could afford to do, because he is wealthy enough to have some sort of self-indulgent Christopher McCandless moment while the rest of the country looks for an actual job.”
There’s more to the Washington Post’s profile than a discussion of Kashkari’s carpentry skills, however. It also provides some colorful, if not unnerving, detail about the way bailout came together:
“In Washington, he used his BlackBerry to determine the bailout sum presented to Congress. His arithmetic: ‘We have $11 trillion residential mortgages, $3 trillion commercial mortgages. Total $14 trillion. Five percent of that is $700 billion. A nice round number’."
In the end, Kashkari’s "Washington detox" may have been nothing more than an extended job hunt. Pacific Investment Management Co., the bond powerhouse, announced Monday that it has hired him as a managing director and head of new investment initiatives.