President Obama, during his recent meeting with bank CEOs, as quoted by Politico:
Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.
My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.
That's true, at least to an extent. And it shows something I've written about before, which is the advantage that the kind of populist outrage that's been directed at AIG can have for the Obama administration. There are, obviously, some pitfalls there, but at the same time, if done the right way, the administration can use the threat of those pitchforks to keep the banks in line and at least somewhat compliant.