Wall Street Uses the “S” Word to Denounce Criticizing its Bonuses — Socialism!

By
Sunday, February 01, 2009 at 12:00 pm

The New York Times took a stab at getting people who work on Wall Street to defend taking in more than $18 billion in bonuses — roughly the amount that was paid out in 2004, when the economy was just slightly different – and found that most aren’t owning up to ever getting the money.

From The Times:

[I]t was rather remarkable on Friday how many white shirts denied getting a bonus altogether when they were asked. Indeed, if the data obtained by reporters in the district was any measure, there is no telling where that $18 billion really went.

But a few did talk, and their feelings were hurt that President Obama called them shameful. They used another “s” word to describe his views — socialism!

“I think President Obama painted everyone with a broad stroke,” said Brian McCaffrey, 55, a Wall Street lawyer who was on his way to see a client. “The way we pay our taxes is bonuses. The only way that we’ll get any of our bailout money back is from taxes on bonuses. I think bonuses should be looked at on a case by case basis, or you turn into a socialist.”

That, indeed, was a recurring equation: Broad strokes + bonuses = socialist.

“It’s a very slippery slope to go down,” said another insurance broker as he waited to be seated for lunch at Cipriani Downtown. “A blanket statement like that borders on” — you guessed it — “socialism.”

I think we’ve all had enough here. Before this descends into name calling, I think the best way to resolve this bonus controversy once and for all is to call the bankers’ bluffs. They keep saying they need bonuses to retain talent — a hard argument to make for banks that are barely solvent, like Citigroup — and that if they don’t pay, their top people will leave.

So let’s just find out if that’s true. Let those talented people look elsewhere. See how well the job market greets financial executives with resumes from bailed-out banks. Watch what happens to AIG employees who don’t get retention bonuses and go shopping their service elsewhere.

I don’t expect a sudden brain drain.

Instead what might happen is something that should have occurred a long time ago. Wall Street seems to be in some form of denial. There’s a sense that big bonuses and corporate perks are still part of the picture, and that life hasn’t changed that much. But it has. It’s over. And so is the notion that top employees of failed banks are any different than the rest of us, that the private sector will pay any price for them.

The financial industry is headed for its first wake-up call with new regulations ahead from an increasingly annoyed Congress and executive branch. The second is the growing disgust with the old ways of Wall Street at a time when other Americans look at their bank accounts and know that everything has changed.

Monster.com has been good enough for the rest of us. It should be just fine for the finance industry too.

Comments

227 Comments

c12k
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 9:54 am

Amen!


Chris Gerlach
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 9:55 am

Thank goodess for your clarity and direct article. The Wall Street pirates deserve to be hung, drawn and quartered for their incredible greed, arrogance and what they have done to our economy and nation by betraying our trust, floating massive ponzzie schemes in the name of speculation and dragging down the heritage of our fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers. Hooray for the time of truth, and may the last one please turn out the lights and get the heck out of our lives.


Dave
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 9:57 am

Isn't it funny that Wall Street wasn't sympathizing with the average worker as pensions became a thing of the past? Did companies ever say they had to keep offering pensions to keep their best workers? How about the rising cost of insurance and diminishing coverage? There is no competition to retain good workers. If every business cuts out the same perks, where else can the workers go? The system by which company executives have slowly screwed the common worker over the last 25 years has finally trickled up to them. I have no sympathy for them, just as they haven't had any.


Rub
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:01 am

I've got an idea. If you don't agree with the bonuses a company pays out, don't do business with that company. Why isn't there any effort on the part of the media, to investigate the more than 100M in salary and bonuses Mr. Raines accepted while working as the head of Fannie May? He was also cooking the books so he and his associates would make their numbers and receive bonuses. Sound familiar?
Where's the stories about our new treasury secretary who signed for money given to him by his employer for payment of taxes, then didn't pay them. We're now at the height of hipocracy


Rub
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:03 am

Get a clue


ernie medeiros
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:04 am

We need to give these egregious scum just what they're asking for. Nationalize the banks, seize the assets of every corporate exec making over 500,000/year, run the banks as public utilities for the common good and redistribute the wealth back to the people who actually created it: The workers! Then, criminal swindlers like B. Maddof et al should be swiftly tried and imprisoned, not only for fraud, but for crimes against humanity!!!


markie
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:04 am

swindle and spin


john
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:05 am

the bonus's confirm socialism as it was tax payer money that provided it, for the bonus receivers to say otherwise is hypocritical.


Rob
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:12 am

Socialism reared its ugly head first when these morons accepted government money in the first place. You people sold your soul to the government, and now you're appalled by the fact that they now claim ownership of it.

In a real capitalist world you fools would have been routed out and fired long ago. Better hurry up and pay the man back before the Bank of America becomes the Gosbank of America Komrades!


frank
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:13 am

Hearing the media elite debate this topic is so friggin' hypocritical that I'm in stitches. Former overpriced market cap giants like the NYT and GE-parent of CNBC-have seen their share prices break as hard as investment banks. Brian Williams of NBC is the 2nd or 3rd highest paid employee at GE. Chris Mathews (4.8m) and Olberman (4mil) entertain less than a million viewers a night. And I'd LOVE to know how much NBC pays top producers of prime time programming. Yet the media is a WATCHDOG over the bonus pool of traders and staff at other publicly traded corporations.

A top agency trader at a million a year is a hell of a lot more valuable and harder to replace than a bunch of TelePrompter reading clowns who get a “tingle up their legs” at the empty rhetoric of some half ass Chicago lawyer turned Messiah…….


rene
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:14 am

i agree with ernie but only would add the term vultures as adjective for wall street execs


bob
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:22 am

It's not just the CEO's. The problem is with the incestuos nature of the large corps. The boards of directors for all those companies are intertwined. I used to pay attention to my proxy info back when I had actual stocks and what I realized is that the chairman of company A would be a board member of company B and the chairman of B would be on the boarde of C and so on around in circles. They were also all CEO's of one or the other and would regularly vote to increase the bonuses for each other. Let's just usher them all over to the unemployment line and find brand new talent. High school kids would do a better job than these swindlers.

By the way, the reason you haven't seen more investigative reporting in the big media is because they are owned and controlled by these same big corps. Thank goodness the light of day is shining on these evil demons in spite of that!


Fred
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:25 am

Socialism – everyone getting the same pay regardless of productivity
(we don't want that)
Imperialism – the few closest to the money getting vast sums and the majority getting little or none
(this is what we currently have on Wall Street)
Capitalism – everyone getting paid based on how well they perform
(this is what we want)
Big bonuses are ok if the employees are well paid, the shareholders are well paid, and the net profits are substantial. If any one of thes is not the case, then bonuses are not in order because a poor job was done. No excuses.


bob
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:28 am

That's right Fred!


Joseph
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:38 am

I agree. Besides, what's wrong with socialism–whatever that is?


Dan
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:40 am

The focus of any discussion should be whether the bonus was right when a company not only falling but failing very hard. Maybe individual made a good return. But it cannot add up to $18 billions. I am very doubtful how Wall Street experts doing the number.


Karen
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:42 am

Bonuses used to be performance based. These people did not perform. Since they need to be bailed out from the government (us) to stay afloat, they can give up their bonus. “Retain Talent”? That talent has crushed the majority of this country's small investor's money. It was “socialism” when they begged for the money. That need started the slippery sloap. THEY started that slippery sloap because they FAILED and they can begin to live like the rest of us. If you accept, ask for, beg for my money to help you stay afloat, I get a say in how it's spent. They ruined their own little game and they DO NOT get to blame Obama or anyone else. They made this bed and I'm all for making them sleep in it. The ride is over!


John
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:43 am

I don't think the main issue is with people making a lot of money. I believe the main issue is that there were companies that begged for TARP money, claiming their company will not survive without it, then turns around and gives out bonuses to their employees. Why do these folks who work for companies that got saved by bailout money not think it's “socialism” to receive help money from the government, but quickly call it “socialism” when people question why they are receiving bonuses for a job crappily done?


The Truth
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:45 am

Where's the bread line?


Karen
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:46 am

You Go Ernie! I'll vote for that!


Darren
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:50 am

I love the irony of these people throwing “socialist” around. Many of them would not even have a lob right now if it were not for the Tarp. It's funny that they think it's ok to take billions in tax payer money, but if you try to make them act in a responsible fashion all of a sudden socialist is a bad word. If these people think that they are so indispensable, let them join the thousands that were canned from the financial sector over the last little while. Then when they are cashing their unemployment cheques they can grumble about the socialist government that issued them. Hey wall street, time for a reality check!


Rich
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:52 am

The moment the “industry” (if you could call it that -which is a stretch as what do they actually produce?) took government money the whole equation became socialist -which nullifies any further protest. These self-appointed 'masters of the universe' . The antics of Bernie Madoff, John Thain, the Enron clowns, Dennis Koslowski and hundreds like them are inexcusable -they are the equivalent of watching The Real Housewives of Orange County, New York or Atlanta – All of this behavior and excess is an awesome Al Qaeda recruiting tool. They see this crap and total lack of any moral compass as representative of American culture and then no wonder they want to destroy us. I'm saying this as a person who has been in Iraq fighting the war. Perhaps I should have my rifle sights set at center of mass of John Thain.


William
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:56 am

Frank… 'media elite'… nice buzz word, haven't heard that before. You're a cliche, just like the clowns who's rhetoric you can only regurgitate. You forgot to add 'liberal bias' somewhere in your comment…here's a nickel, go find an original thought.


Steve
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 10:57 am

People are missing out on the fact that several people/ units of these organizations are very profitable. To say that nobody deserves bonuses is ridiculas and flat out wrong. I work for a divison of bank of america, we work way harder and longer than the “average joe” and we were very profitable last year….. why should we lose out on bonuses? Broad Strokes is a bad idea and defets the point of this country… if this is Obama's I did of “change” let's change the colors of our flag to red and gold.


DGC
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:03 am

You can only eat yourself for so long before you die…I spent time in areas where the auto industry was huge…they fired everyone to get costs down and to make more money, then complained when nobody bought their stuff, boo hoo big business…hire people again and we'll be able to afford to buy your stuff. That means stop living for Wall Street. Maybe making millions instead of billions will be the way to go for the new company that picks up where you killed yourself. Looks like the bottom line is pretty long.


Chris Gerlach
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:04 am

It is NOT the profitiablity and yes many in the actual companies work very very very hard and are very worthy it is the FAT cats at the top who take huge huge huge salaries and rip everyone else off. the very idea of such huge profits is aberrant not to say obscene. And using slang words from idiots like that Coulter idiot and attacking ppl for speaking their minds is a sad example of the copy cat syndrome created by the hate mongering media figures who lead the “conservative” elite far rampant right. Lets stay focused on the evil that the top execs have done and continue to do even now.


Jamal
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:09 am

Don't hate the player hate the game.


BRYAN
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:09 am

ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!


BRYAN
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:10 am

THIS ARTICLE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! RETENTION? WHY WOULD WE WANT TO RETAIN PEOPLE THAT CRASHED OUR ECONOMY?


Torben
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:20 am

What kind of BRAIN drain is at stake here? We are talking about leaders that have had no or little control over their organizations and as such have brought them to the brink of bankruptcy! Maybe it's about time to make a severe changeover among these executives that have become so highly paid that it has only created distance to the reality of the companies they are supposed to lead? How much knowledge and skills is needed to lose billions and billions of dollars? I vote for draining out these so-called leaders (especially the ones that wont accept lower remuneration) and replace them with ones that will accept a reasonable remuneration and will demonstrate a real motivation to work with their organization in solving the core problems. It has been proven that people who in 1 year make enough money to live comfortably the rest of their lifetime, either cannot find enough motivation or have been chosen for other reasons than their competencies!


deming
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:26 am

Socialist may be to light a description


Carl Schmidt
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:27 am

As a former prosecutor, and defense attorney, I am wondering why some sharp federal U. S. Attorney’s office does not consider the fact that accepting a very large amount of money fraudulently or based on false pretenses, is a crime. These folks are getting paid exorbitant amounts of money, being paid twice, or more, for not doing what they were already paid to do. Where I come from accepting payment for services not performed is fraud.


Torben
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:30 am

Steve…it's not the profit of these companies that is financing the bonuses…Bank of America has been bailed out by the American people…and people around the world “chipping in” as recession and loses are setting their nasty fingerprints. A bonus should be received for creating good healthy results and it should be financed by the company and not by the hard work of the people bailing out that company! It's by the way, in my opinion, totally misplaced and arrogant to postulate that people in Bank of America are working harder than the “average Joe”…you guys are producing NOTHING and are merely moving money around – you have clearly demonstrated that even this is too big a task. Start taking responsibility for the mess we are in…it will bring more respect!


Douglas
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:32 am

Rich, I thought your comments were OK until your last sentence where you threatened to shoot John Thain. This basically discredits your entire comment and raises other questions as well. What do you mean about the behavior of American housewives as “an awesome Al Queda recruiting tool”? Surely you don't think that whatever negatives you perceive of American culture is unique to American culture. I wonder how many different young women in Iraq you had sex with. You even make me wonder if you don't have leanings to Al Queda yourself. What makes you think that any behavior by any American except perhaps a serial or a mass murderer is even remotely as bad as that of any Al Queda operative? Who's side are you really on? I trust you simply misspoke and that you really are proud of your Country, the United States of America, and the Uniform you wear to represent the best of it.


Torben
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:34 am

Well said…I completely agree…amazing that the American people is even ready to discuss whether these people should be paid bonuses…the discussion should be on whether money should be returned or some leaders should be punished!


Quandary
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:35 am

PREZ BHO best be willing to start paying taxes on all of his benefits i.e. Our public housing, Our furnished transportation, Our SS protection, Our house keepers, Our chefs, Our grounds keepers and the list goes on and on if he wants workers to stop getting bonuses. Better yet he should just start paying for his benefits. Also, Civil Servants must stop getting their bonuses as well. This is BHO “Change and Hope”, Don't do as I do do as I say.


asad
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:37 am

What about teachers working in “under performing” schools with families that have many social problems. These teachers definitely work longer and harder under intense stress. How unappreciatie and abusive to them then toat the same time have workers in other sectors to run amock unchecked and unquestioned as to how they compensqate themselves in such an avaricious, ambitiously opportunistic and greedy way . They do not receive any overtime pay or bonus pay of any sort. How is it that bankers and money investors have become so prestigious and absurdly, absurdly, absurdly compensated! It is misplaced values and


john
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:38 am

It's funny how these Wall Street guys don't mind the socialist bailout, but talk about their bonuses that come from our tax dollars, and all of the sudden the CRITICISM is socialist?!?!?!


john
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:45 am

That may be, but if your company as a whole is down, it doesn't matter what your division did, the company as a whole is not profitable, and I don't want to pay you a bonus. I suppose that's the main thing. I worked by butt of this year, and paid tens of thousands in taxes, and it goes towards bonuses for people like you? Hell no, if your company isn't doing well, then it needs to go bankrupt. If your division is actually profitable, then it is one of the few good assets left, and needs to be sold to the highest bidder. Me working hard to keep parts of your company afloat so that your buddies can buy a new Mercedes is BS. Sorry, but that is the definition of socialism, and it pisses me off.


Lou
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:48 am

I'm not a socialist but anyone that rakes in the kinds of money that wall street has been doing is grossly overpiad regardless of what function they have including CEO's. To me the there has to be relevance to payscales between professions; who deserves more a heart surgeon whose skills are used to save lives or someone who has by chance latched on to a field where every year because their companies have made enormous amounts of money theeir bonuses get bigger.

As a shareholder I deserves to get paid hndsomely because I've risked my hardearned money. The company workers [regardless of position should be paid a decent compensation] otherwise, if they feel that they are not being compensated according to their worth, go out and start your own comapny with your money and make whatever you are capable of. When you risk your own money no one will ever be lamenting of what you make. I dare say that they would not be making a lot of the types of decisions that they make with our money.

Even at a fraction of what they are being bonused at would be excellent compensation in my opinion if they want to deal with other peoples money…. otherwise go out and use your own.


David
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:50 am

I hear virtually no statements of responsibility from these 'talented' bankers and investment people for the failures in their business resulting in the need for taxpayer insured/funded bailout funds.

Indeed, I observe statements indicating a sense of entitlement to these bonuses and other perks in spite of the burden placed on the taxpayers. This seems to be conveyed with some degree of impunity.

Let us note that this $18B+, if spread amongst the entire population of the U.S. equates to $70+ for every man, woman & child in the U.S. Tell me now how many 'needy', 'talented' bankers & investment personnel this was actually disbursed amongst. some comments to address this may help the large number of middle class taxpayers who are funding your businesses, thereby preventing the possibility of insolvency.

Help the average taxpayer understand in more quantitative terms your “need”; terms that they can understand.

I say that if you “need” the money of the taxpayers, then it'll be on the terms that they want, and if you don't like it, then you can walk.


john
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:51 am

it gets even more incestuous when you include the government. The same people making the rules one day, are working for the corporations the next. Both our new and previous heads of the Treasury came from Goldman Sachs, so do they run both the Republican and Democratic parties? Government is a revolving door, where you make rules that benefit your future profession!


john
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:53 am

Ouch! Central economic planning has never worked, dude! I do agree with prosecution of fraud, however!


gupiwc
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:55 am

Cumulative damages of 9.11 terrorist attacks, $20 billion. That's approximately a years of bonuses for the Wall Street locals. Cumulative damages of 2008 financial meltdown, +$3 trillion. Who are the terrorists?


Douglas
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:57 am

How can anyone feel sorry for anyone who can afford to own and drive a Maserati? This is especially true for those who are under 50, or is it 40 or even 30 years of age. What a bunch of spoiled rotten brats. There seems to be no limit to the wealth of so many at such a young age who work on Wall Street. The problem is clearly not just with the upper echelon executives but with the whole range of workers and traders no matter what their age. So let's not just focus on the top but the bottom as well. When it comes to Wall Street the top are merely the tip of the iceberg so to speak.


Arthur1017
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:58 am

Doug,
I would, frankly, be more concerned with your rhetoric not Rich's. Rich speaks as someone who is capable of independent thought. You seem to echo a whole ideology that is only capable of blind obedience. ie; “if Amreicans do it, it must be good and right”. Greed, while not exclusively American, is certainly not something to emulate and when the politics of the 21st century are haves vs the have nots, the “have nots” are going to use the unbridled greed of the “haves” to recruit people to thier side. Lastly, your entire diatribe is discredited when you make reference to whether or not someone who, presumably, served our country, mine and yours, honorably by saying he had sex with the civilians he encountered. This last statement makes me wonder about the simplistic level your thinking must operate on.


Sillyfatbastard
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

I call B.S. on that; when the player is trying to protect the game, it's high time to hate the player!


fah Q
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

Destroying the middle class starts in the wallet…

Calling Obama a socialist in this climate smacks of someone who believes they are part of some sort of monarchy.


Thomas Simmons
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

We are still not hearing both sides of the issue. What is a “bonus” and how does it relate to their work? Are these “bonuses” commissions on the work they have achieved? And if so, are they proportionate to the work they have achieved or not? What do they make yearly without the “bonuses”? We need this explained better. Using broad-strokes here is about labeling the entire salary system with one word.

Thom Simmons
Kapiti Coast


jerry davis
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

to use sen. graham's phrase : wall street gurus are the worlds biggest whinners: Git-mo is the place for them then in 5 or 6 years we could decide where thay should really be.


Airelon
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

I personally think it's hilarious President Obama of all people is 'denouncing Wall Street bonuses'.

Uh? What?

Isn't this the guy that just had one of the single most expensive innaguration's … ever? How many dollars did he accept from CEO's and presidents of Corporations?

$200,000 from Com Edison? Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal? How much did he receive from Corning again? How about all that money from Verizon? AT&T?

And this guy is going to come along and decry bonuses? This guy? Seriously?


robert
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

It just irrataes me to think that a CEO can order a $85,000 area rug for his office, while I only get 3/4% interest on on my savings account. Oh ! and he offered to pay it back after the word got out, how generous, when you are making a few Million a year. Too many at the top are getting the pork when it is all the people at the bottom doing all the work. I think it is time for a financial revolution. We should all take our money out of these banks for awhile and just put it in the old matteress, and see how things go from there. It's not like you would loose a lot of money on the interest you would be getting.


Jim Burke
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

That lawyer and the banker are unbelievable hypocrites!
It's socialism if we question their bonuses, but what is it called when our taxes bail out their industries,like France?
Good policy.

Time for the sans-culottes.
Put a few heads on spikes.


Airelon
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:21 pm

Not to say that some bonuses have matched due to the profits of their companies. But President Obama OF ALL people is going to decry them? It's Mercantilism, pure and simple. And this is the junk and garbage that gets spewed out in Mercantilistic economies.

Sort of funny, since President Obama is using a play from Keynes (one of the biggest neo-mercantilistists ever) with his infrastructure play. It wasn't his idea. It was Keynes.


Airelon
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

Basically, you have a bunch of neo-mercantilist socialists calling each other socialists. Obama and the bankers alike. They are both socialists. Humerous, if it wasn't so serious.


rgpope
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

AMEN!!!!!!!


Brad
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

What is the most amazing thing about the Wallstreet executives total state of denial is the fact none of these so called birght minds would even have a job was it not for the billions of dollars of bailout money to keep the very institutions they work at open! My opinion is they have done a very bad job and desreve to be replaced by other bright minded people who may or may not do a better job. But one thing is certain in my opinion nobody can do much worse than what has been done already!!! The people that are running these institutions now are so blinded by GREED, they acutally believe they deserve the massive bonuses!! The idiotic statements you here about having to pay to keep the best people are nonsense, let them go try to find better jobs! I DARE them to find better JOBS!


Wall Street and the Bailout « Later On
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[...] Mary Kane has an excellent suggestion. [...]


Patrick
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

If refusing to pay perks to jerks is being socialist, then I want to be counted as one!


ted chyn
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

These fat cat use “retain talent for WS firms” to justify the bonus. These are talent these country can do without . These people are scam bags and thiefs not TALENTs.


Hilary Smith
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

How has the Wall Street ruling-class contributed to our society? What justifies their continued economic privilege?


Someone
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

Perhaps this is why job-search startup “The Ladders” has been created. Going to be alot of “100k Talent” looking for “100k Jobs” pretty soon. Good riddance to them, let them struggle like everyone they've “legally” robbed.


Alex
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:48 pm

The slimy dirt of WS reaches new heights. An emergency bailout, paid for by the People, and they think that we paid for them to continue living their corrupt lifestyle, and that we will carry the burden for their horrific business practices. Not only should they give the bonuses back, they should be put on trial, and locked up.


Anthony
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

The Obama administration and Congress are trying to play the socialist game. We should not have bailed out any of these businesses and let the market place sort things out. But NO, we have a government that jsut wants to spend money and then become mroe powerful.

There was a reason we had a revolution once and the real Americans will stand up to this socialist agenda. If you want to have socialism, go to Europe.


Enlightenment
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

If their employees are sooooo great, then why are the companies in this mess? huh? Any fool can run a company into the ground! Heck, give me a bunch of money, and I can do it for ya too!


jan s reyes
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

I have a position in which I was paid a bonus at the end of the year for work well done — if my performance received a below-par rating — I didn't get a bonus. I also received annual merit raises, if justified. But not in 2008 — my company froze everyone's pay and stopped all bonuses. Yes, we could leave if you wanted and the company would have lost some “top talent.” But, almost none left. We still don't know if our company (a regional retail company) will make it through the upcoming couple of years and none of us believe that we will receive either a raise or a bonus this year. So what makes the wall street crowd any different? Why are they so special? To buy retail that your customer base will in turn buy at a price that provides a decent profit requires a special talent — do the people on wall street process more talent than I? I don't think so.


Heidi
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

i have no problem with bonuses if they are tied to achievement. These guys failed their companies, their country and the world. As their new employers, the government should not only demand that they return these stolen bonus moneys and be fired. they need to be sent to jail for embezzlement. Nothing short of this will stop a revolution here and total abhorrence from the world once everyone realizes who began all this toxic leveraging.


Douglas
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

Arthur, perhaps Chris needs some help in the form of anger management before and not after he returns to civilian life from serving in Iraq. I am sure you are well aware of the anger and post traumatic violence problems many of our GI's suffer when returning home from War. Just like it is wrong and even a punishable crime to even speak that you want to kill the President of the United States I think it is wrong for anyone, especially a GI, to espouse their dislike, distrust or disapproval of anyone by even suggesting, and especially in writing, that they would aim their rifle at that person. I simply, as you have put it, objected to Chris' inappropriate use of language both in his sentence on the lack of morality of the American Housewife and in his last sentence “Perhaps I should have my rifle sights set on the center of mass of John Thain”.

I can tell you that eight descendent lines of my family have been in this country since 1635 and have fought in every war without ever threatening to shoot a fellow citizen, except in the Civil War, no matter how much he or she was despised. Let's exhibit a little more class and civility.

And by the way, I apologize for my remark on Chris' sexual activity in Iraq. I don't know Chris. In fact, I really know nothing about him. It really had nothing to do with his point about the excessive greed and even immorality of some American financial executives.

I just thought he shouldn't have said anything about the morality of the American Housewife. It was a sexist remark. What about the morality of the American Husband, or the morality of the American Teenager or, for that matter, the morality of the American GI? We could go on and on. And what about the morality of Al Queda?

Incidentally, I happen to agree with Obama that the recent bonuses received by Wall Street executives whose companies received government bailout money is not only shameful but unacceptable. In fact, I think they should all return every penny in bonus money received. As for those who worked for companies who received no government money, it is none of our business about the who, what, why, when and where of their bonuses. It is as simple as that.


William
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

Anthony, what stone have you been living under for the past 6 months?

Answer these questions… how long has Obama been in office?

When did the first half of the 'stimulus' (quite humorous that it's actually called that) go out?

Who was president then? Who's idea was the 'stimulous'?

Bush, my friend, your so-called NeoCon president is responsible for the 'stimulus', now do you only watch Fox News and regurgitate what's fed to you, or are you capable of critical thought?


John L Hobson
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

I will use my 'S' word. I am, for Wall Street, the TOILET PAPER.


William
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

Which side are you on? I can't believe, in the current state of things, we pick a side…the Dems or the Repubs. And you read here the same garbage, recycled, spewed out by mouthpieces of either side.

We have lawmakers who don't pay taxes, and giant Corporations bleeding us dry and all I see on here are cliches, cliches, cliches.

The lawmakers and the Wall Street Execs better tread carefully, 'cos if a revolution was ever needed, now looks like as good a time as any. I'm feeling rather French at the moment… as in, the French Revolution. Those in power didn't fancy the result then…perhaps those in power need a taste of that now.


Ric R
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

grab Wall street employers houses, bank account, cars, and everything and add that to baoilout money as well…let them feel the heat atleast now


Allen
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

Sorry everyone, but when Wall St. executives use the tax payer's money to pay themselves big bonuses they are very accurate in finally admitting what it is: “SOCIALISM”. Our government is taxing the people who earned the money and using it to bailout the failed Wall St. banks and financial houses and their executives are giving themselves big fat bonuses. They are re-distributing the wealth from those who have earned it to those who have not. They have even admitted it …. it's SOCIALISM.


William
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

Yes yes Allen…a man who knows of that which he speaks.

Let me just add…if I end up getting laid-off this year, I'm headin' over to the wealthy part of town…do a little redistribution of my own.


wreilly
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

I fully agree that the old saying we need to pay our top people big bonuses to keep them is BS. I feel that if you pay them a fair base salary and then tie all other raises from base pay to things like stock price and general sales targets that they would still stay. This has to be a general way all US Business is conducted. Agreeing to large pay packages before taking over their job also need to be addressed. It doesnt make sense to pay hugh bonuses when the company is loosing money and laying off workers. This is the easy solution to improving the bottom line but doesnt indicate that the bosses did their jobs to begin with.


Roger Carter
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

The best article I've read in months! Kudos!

It's time Wall Street does what the rest of us have to do for years: W O R K!


allen maes
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

The only reason these morons are using the word socialists is because they have no other excuse or any other educated way to justify their greed in these troubled times.
America and the world voted for these changes, not to promote any political concept theories but to rid of the self-serviant greed that has crippled our current ability to make an honest living and help our childrens future. You Wallstreet morons have now violated our families with your actions and your attempt to cover your scene of the crime!


Marc
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

I work for a Wall Street company, and frankly I have no allusions that I am due or entitled to 1 penny of a bonus if my firm performed miserably, which it has. I also get the fact that if tax payers are keeping my firm solvent, I now have a fiduciary duty, whether I wanted it or not. With this said, a few observations.

The comments here are completely unfocused and mostly misinformed. The media is also completely misleading in their presentation of bonus and compensation. Some of it is understandable as the concept of bonus on Wall Street is misleading to begin with. It is critical to make a distinction between senior management that made disastrous choices affecting an entire industry, and rank and file members that hardly can be thought of as “greedy” Wall Streeters. Secondly, it is important to realize that the word bonus is completely inappropriate, it is a part and parcel of a person's pay.

As I opened, this variable add on, in the eyes of many, should be zero and I am not here to argue otherwise. But to make sweeping statements are foolish at best. It is an age old argument of “what is he/she worth?”. Is a teacher making $80K to work 9 months a year “worth” it? Is Brittney Spears “worth” the money? Is it really worth $400 to get someone to style your hair? The market cannot answer everything, but this is where it can. Your value system is represented every time you pay something. The market makes it possible for people with fundamentally different views on many different things to agree on a price. I may dislike that some overweight pitcher gets paid multiple millions to eat sesame seeds in the bull pen, but I am not out to set his salary as no one's pursuits are immune to this form of scrutiny. Instead, I am more concerned whether the prices we pay are set in a transparent and truly equitable way.


MHR
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

Amen to that!

And I am a capitalist to the bone but what these Wall Street idiots have done over the past 25 years is nothing short of fraud. They should all be glad they're not going to jail.

And when they come begging to the Public trough, throwing out the term 'socialism' in response to justified public outcry is a joke. Their aim is to 'capitalize' the winnings and 'socilalize' their losses.
But the jig is up and their time is over. What we need now are true Corporate leaders with intelligence and integrity to restore free market capitalism to what it truly ought ot be: the exchange of one's best efforts for the best efforts of others.


punflyer
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

I have spent my entire working career being paid according to my production. When the small company I was running lost money I received no bonus, nor did I deserve one. When we had a good year I did well. Nobody owes me a living – it is up to me to earn it. Wall street execs ran their companies broke. The thought of a bonus for their performance is ludicrous. Tell them that they now work for US – Shape up or ship out.


William
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

Mark, you make a good point, and something else we all need to be cognizant of is the fact that many of those responsible for the shoddy decisions are gone. These bonuses may not entirely be to those who are unworthy.

I believe the working man's frustration (if I may, tho I'm certainly not representing all working folk), or, one of the working man's frustrations is the millions folks making the shoddy decisions made off with. Yes, they were fired, they lost their job, but when they were making risky investments, they were being compensated quite handsomely for it. So they therefore they 'lose' their job, but I'm not sure they're waiting in line at the unemployment office hoping to be able to feed their family, or pay their rent (or mortgage). That's where the disconnect comes in.

Those left in Wall Street are left with a shoddy image to bear…but when my Pops puts off retirement for a couple years based on the current economic drudgery (the man doesn't call in sick and has been at it for 40 years), I'm not sure I feel too sorry for those left with a shoddy image as their burden to bear.


Julie
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

Maybe it's time to have a real French Revolution part II- off with their heads! The survivors will surely take notice!


Matt
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

I think we are all beginning to see why some companies are keen on outsourcing their jobs. Talented Americans are few and far inbetween, and so they feel entitled to these extravagant “bonuses”. Outsource the jobs – it will be cheaper and you do not have to deal with arrogant Americans demanding ludicrous bonuses.

Cheers everyone!


Jim G.
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

Pull up your socks, people! It's time for the financial sector to suck it up and live like the rest of us. A bonus is not part of your salary, as much as some of you might like to think it is. Just because you take it for granted and have it figured into your household budget, it's not guaranteed. I'm not saying the mid level people steered the companies into the ditch, but it's a moot point. If the firm didn't make money last year, nobody gets bonuses. If your company had to be bailed out by the taxpayers who seem to be bailing everyone out, and you think your bonus should be payed out of that, who are you calling a socialist? The hypocrisy is unbelievable…

So, I'm all for letting the market decide, as a few here have suggested. Don't pay a penny in bonuses at companies who take government bailout money. If the employees are unhappy about that (see any Econ 101 text), they can look for a job to see how the market values their talents. If they can find a job that has the same or better base pay, the “guaranteed” bonus in question, and all the other benefits they so obviously deserve, then they should take it. Otherwise, stop telling the rest of us how important it is to retain your sorry posterior at the compensation you require to keep you from going elsewhere. You are worth whatever the law of supply and demand says you're worth…not just what you say you're worth. By the way, the supply and demand curves have shifted recently, so the new intersection point is where you should be focused, not where they intersected before the meltdown.


William
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

Those left in Wall Street are left with a shoddy image to bear…but when my Pops puts off retirement for a couple years based on the current economic drudgery (the man doesn't call in sick and has been at it for 40 years), I'm not sure I feel too sorry for those left with a shoddy image as their burden to bear.


Rchi
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

I think bonuses should be based on their performance AND their respective companies' performance. You all had a hand in making this mess so until you've proven worthy of being paid and have cleaned up our wrecked system tough nuggets. No bonus until appreciable improvement is seen and that, sorry to say, will take years and should not be allowed to happen on John Q. Taxpayers dime, Benjamins, etc.


Mike
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

A bank reaches too far, loses money, needs a bailout to stay afloat – NO BONUS. For anyone. Period. Upset about that even after your hard work? Get a job somewhere else. It 's what the rest of us Americans do.

What really galls us is not the token cash doled out to the peons, but the obscene amounts given to the execs. After all, most of us don't make salaries over $100k , nor can we ever imagine a million dollar bonus, or the greed and sense of entitlement to even demand more.

Wall Street exec – fortune 500 type executives as a class; you'll get no sympathy from me.


the witic
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

How about letting them keep the bonus, but chaining them to the desk until they earn it?


gupiwc
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

A+

“The slimy dirt of WS reaches new heights. An emergency bailout, paid for by the People, and they think that we paid for them to continue living their corrupt lifestyle, and that we will carry the burden for their horrific business practices. Not only should they give the bonuses back, they should be put on trial, and locked up.”


SmallGuy on WS
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

The 18 billion were paid in 2008. Not paid for 2008. The bonus cycle in most banks works such that bonus for 2007 is paid in Feb 2008. So if you ask bankers did they get bonus for 2008. MOst havent YET. They got 2007 bonuses in Feb 2008 which was 44% down. This year i.e. 2008 bonus to be paid in 2009 will be much less. No one seems to be mentioning that point which makes this whole debate moot.


wirtjesle@bak.rr.com
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

wall street companies,are a bunch of greedy hogs.period! prove yourselves different!! we will all watch for the best in them!!


One that lived in USSR
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

The reason you dont get it is because you, just like our current President, are an idiot. Your ass, as well, as his, relies on people like those on Wall St that get bonuses to be able to sustain yours delusionally self-important existance. Let us be honest, in a society that values real productivity, absolutely no one would pay even a nickel to you for anything that you might writte as you and your words are useless overhead.

Guess what? Those that work for divisions of Wall St. firms that failed misterably got canned and got zero in bonuses. The reason why you stupid behind can still get use your ATM card or credit card while trying to bribe Cippriani's folks to get your sorry ass seated is because the folks from the other divisions of the banks are keeping things together, you stpid clueless Obama's socialism worshipping dumb-ass.


jon smith
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

Retain bad talent? Why try?


Joe
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:25 pm

Please let's not pick on the defenseless swine, who can't read or write! Hogs, indeed!
They're actually subversive, giving “Socialism” a good name.
Or are they just a bunch of clowns trying to get their names in a new book such as “The Smartest Guys in the Room”


larry
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

The anger stems from executives getting fat bonuses while their companies lost billions of dollars. Blame the boards of directors for approving lousy bonus systems that reward failure. I don't hear anyone calling the boards on the carpet for their failure.


Catherine M Ertelt
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

So interesting. When the money is used for the common good or to support the lower and middle class, it’s socialism. When the money is taken from taxes we all pay for obscene bonuses for the already overpaid, it’s called talent retention. There are millions of very talented people out on the streets looking for jobs right now because of the actions of these people!!


Catherine M Ertelt
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

So interesting. When the money is used for the common good or to support the lower and middle class, it’s socialism. When the money is taken from taxes we all pay for obscene bonuses for the already overpaid, it’s called talent retention. There are millions of very talented people out on the streets looking for jobs right now because of the actions of these people!!


Lewis Goud
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

Hallowed by the hollow-point, for it settles sterile debate. I hope you do get laid-off, and
laid away in my deep-freeze when you cross town to throw your “weight” around.


Jim G.
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:45 pm

So…let's say the bonuses paid in 2008 were really for performance in 2007. Performance looked a lot better in 2007, based on profits. But were those profits real or imaginary?

Some of these companies were busy shoveling money out the door in bonuses as they were begging the government for a bailout. Therefore, I'm not convinced that those bonuses should have been paid. And now, they won't even tell us where the first $350 B of the bailout money went…huh. Corrupt companies, hopelessly inept politicians…great combination.

I've got my pitchfork ready, for when we storm the gated communities.


RR
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

Bah, the rich overpay the rich and we all end up bailing them out in the end.
Equitable my eye… those who run 'the system' pushed it to excess and both the good and the bad pursued it… they all deserve the blame. What galls is that when we extend the hand of bailout… everyone should immediately terminate the outflow of extravagance, of bonus, of profit even, for we are paying to save them, not for them to profit as usual… no dividends, no 'bonus' and yes, practically no pay for those in the upper half who have more than enough money built up from previous excess. Instead we hear of hundreds of thousand dollar meetings, bonuses, purchases of jets, dividends, acquisitions of other companies with money meant to be loaned… loaned, not for purchases. The new era should set pay… and people should earn it, and never should the captain partake of the meat until the crew and passengers say 'hear, hear'. We shouldn't have to 'bribe' talent to work a job, we should simply straight pay them… and dock them when they underperform if we're going to bonus their 'premium' 'elite' talent when the economy just happens to go their way. Yes those gods of capitalism sure deserve to live in ultra-rare aire… and their underlings too. For the rest of us, when the company does poorly… IT GOES OUT OF BUSINESS AND SO DO WE. Pampered ……!


gigi
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

Douglas, unfortunately you are a moron. Rich referred to the show “The Housewives of Orange County , Atlanta etc” not to the mass housewives of America. Please read before you retort. How dare you ask a soldier who serves our country in Iraq knowing that around every corner there is someone who wants to saw his head off how many women he has had sex with? Do you know anything about the conditions that women are forced to live in? Like they can just walk around freely and have sex with anyone they care too? This is a country where women are punished for being raped.
I think you need to get your facts straight and your spelling correct its Al Qaeda …. got it? Living in America means that Rich is within his rights to say someone should be shot, were your panties in a bunch because he offered to do it?


RIch
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

Douglas
I think you misinterpreted my reference – I am referring to a Bravo TV channel show series called “The Real Housewives of Atlanta, New York or Orange County” and using that as a parallel to the behavior of some of our corporate 'masters of the universe' – People like myself and perhaps you have nothing to do with their antics and loose fiscal and moral values yet this headline stuff is what the enemy sees and then uses as propaganda against us.
I am a happily married man w/ 2 kids who has hung my ass out in Iraq on 2 tours so far. The only locals I have met are Iraqi Army soldiers and I only have the utmost respect for them and average Iraqi citizen who has to put up with the fringe….so I didnt have time or inclination to meet any “young women in Iraq” to have sex with -as you put it.
The continuing strength of our country relies on the average american housewife – God bless her-as she is the glue that keeps the nuclear family together (I have a great housewife who gets it done and kept it together while I was downrange) . The housewives on the Bravo show are not 'real'…….
You may be right on anger management, but I get on fire when I come back to the USA and see the damage that has been done by our own. Others have referred to the problematic Wall Street execs (not all of them) being “drawn and quartered” – I would like to see some of these clowns get their office door kicked down, rifles pointed at them, zip tied and taken away to do time – there were crimes committed here -instead they are sentenced to “house arrest” in their nice pad or chastized in a news article. It is no different from me or better a policeman pointing a firearm at a mugger stealing a persons wallet -but this time they reached into about 300,000,000 peoples wallets.
When every American takes responsibility for their actions, lives for something more than themselves and bands together with his/her fellow American then this country can get back on track. I am glad and fortunate to have the privilege to defend the average american housewife. I will fight to the death to protect my country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That is the oath.


Mike Furst
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

Well, whether its “socialism ” or not, the choice as most people would see it is as follows: you can use taxpayer funds to pay bonuses (and reap the wrath of virtually everybody) or you can go out of business. Or you can act responsibly in tough times. You want your bonus to pay your taxes? No sympathy here. Next year, plan better.


Mike F.
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

The headlines are about bonuses paid NOW for 2008 performance. And, besides, what's moot is whether ANY company that takes a handout from the taxpayers should give any of it at all out as bonuses. That's a rhetorical question, BTW. The answer: NO!


Marc
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

William, I can't disagree with what you've said. Like all industries, those at the top are truly sheltered and sometimes clueless. The Big 3 CEO's coming to Congress in private jets begging for money is a perfect example. Thain's begging for a 10 million bonus is another. These individuals are robotic in their unconsciousness of just how poor the firm's financial strength is. In fact, many of these companies until recently were continuing to pay dividends! That is nothing more than the Ponzi scheme itself.

Many on Wall Street have grown accustomed to a certain culture and pay. I find it equally loathsome that there is some belief they work harder than the average Joe. That argument is as foolish as saying all Wall Streeters are greedy and should be burned at the stake. Let me be clear that I will leave for greener pastures, *if* it is available. If it is not, then I will have to adjust, and I will. My hope is for whatever the future brings in terms of my own compensation, it will continue to be market driven and set by transparent means. Paying someone like me is quite transparent. You can go to a job board and see what range of salary and bonus I get, and then compete for my job. If enough can do it as well or better, my stock goes down, it's that simple. With a senior exec, it's not so simple. There is no job board for that. These are closed door hires, opaque to say the least. You have an armada of lawyers, HR cronies, and board lackeys ready to define success in a way that makes it nearly inevitable.

I think going forward instead of trying to rip apart a system that has worked for more than 90% of the last 150 years, rip off our nose to spite our faces, we should work for transparency. I am uncertain of the ideal or best approach going forward, but I am absolutely sure that increased regulation will do little to nothing. If your goal is simply to make Wall Street less rich, then it's easy, you don't even need regulation. Simply install government mandates on institutions, have them perform their will, and limit their rewards. To my mind, forcing transparency at all levels, increasing accountability at especially senior levels, and preventing any firm to reach the moral hazard scale like Fannie/Freddie/Citi/BofA/etc, would be far more prudent a fix than going in with a hack saw because people are calling for blood.

For those that like to think Revolutionary, don't use the French, that is misplaced historic nostalgia. If you think it was a success, you perhaps should reread their history. Do you think “Égalité” came to them after they beheaded Louis XVI and company? It ushered in a reign of terror like most bloody revolutions do. Since then, the French have had 5 republics (i.e. 5 constitutions). Their class struggles have never gone away as is evident any time the government fails to provide some entitlement or service to the satisfaction of “les citoyens”.

I understand that certain historic blunders call for historically harsh measures. However, the law of unintended consequences never fails to exact its toll. Unfortunately, reason never wins the day, and the more likely event of hasty, reactionary events and policies will create an inefficiency that will last for decades to come.


Marc
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

William, I can't disagree with what you've said. Like all industries, those at the top are truly sheltered and sometimes clueless. The Big 3 CEO's coming to Congress in private jets begging for money is a perfect example. Thain's begging for a 10 million bonus is another. These individuals are robotic in their unconsciousness of just how poor the firm's financial strength is. In fact, many of these companies until recently were continuing to pay dividends! That is nothing more than the Ponzi scheme itself.

Many on Wall Street have grown accustomed to a certain culture and pay. I find it equally loathsome that there is some belief they work harder than the average Joe. That argument is as foolish as saying all Wall Streeters are greedy and should be burned at the stake. Let me be clear that I will leave for greener pastures, *if* it is available. If it is not, then I will have to adjust, and I will. My hope is for whatever the future brings in terms of my own compensation, it will continue to be market driven and set by transparent means. Paying someone like me is quite transparent. You can go to a job board and see what range of salary and bonus I get, and then compete for my job. If enough can do it as well or better, my stock goes down, it's that simple. With a senior exec, it's not so simple. There is no job board for that. These are closed door hires, opaque to say the least. You have an armada of lawyers, HR cronies, and board lackeys ready to define success in a way that makes it nearly inevitable.

I think going forward instead of trying to rip apart a system that has worked for more than 90% of the last 150 years, rip off our nose to spite our faces, we should work for transparency. I am uncertain of the ideal or best approach going forward, but I am absolutely sure that increased regulation will do little to nothing. If your goal is simply to make Wall Street less rich, then it's easy, you don't even need regulation. Simply install government mandates on institutions, have them perform their will, and limit their rewards. To my mind, forcing transparency at all levels, increasing accountability at especially senior levels, and preventing any firm to reach the moral hazard scale like Fannie/Freddie/Citi/BofA/etc, would be far more prudent a fix than going in with a hack saw because people are calling for blood.

For those that like to think Revolutionary, don't use the French, that is misplaced historic nostalgia. If you think it was a success, you perhaps should reread their history. Do you think “Égalité” came to them after they beheaded Louis XVI and company? It ushered in a reign of terror like most bloody revolutions do. Since then, the French have had 5 republics (i.e. 5 constitutions). Their class struggles have never gone away as is evident any time the government fails to provide some entitlement or service to the satisfaction of “les citoyens”.

I understand that certain historic blunders call for historically harsh measures. However, the law of unintended consequences never fails to exact its toll. Unfortunately, reason never wins the day, and the more likely event of hasty, reactionary events and policies will create an inefficiency that will last for decades to come.


dougary
Comment posted February 1, 2009 @ 11:43 pm

Rich,

By your remarks I know you read my response “Douglas 7 hours ago” to “Arthur 1017 8 hours ago”. It's good to hear you are trustworthy and have a great family where everyone supports one another.

I am sorry but I've never seen or even heard of the Bravo TV show you mentioned. Perhaps that is my fault. However, you should know I don't have time for everything. Lately, I've spent a lot of time reading articles on the Internet in an effort to understand what has really happened with our economy. I've been doing this for the past few weeks after spending the previous few weeks channel surfing the news and various programs on the TV with limited success. Eventually the information provided on TV proved to be less and less limited and thus, for me, raised more questions than provided answers. It was if the television media was trying to temper and even hide the truth for fear of causing the public to panic. And so I turned to the Internet.

From the Internet (and public radio) I have come to learn that the problem is not just with some of the Wall Street honchos. Bad Wall Street honchos make great headlines and sensational news. But their misdeeds are not the sole cause for the current sorry state of our economy.

Apparently, all of us who have been cajoled in one way or another by either high pressure or low pressure salesmanship to obtain a credit card, a debit card, a car loan, a payday loan, a home mortgage or any other loan we really couldn't afford over the past 30 or so years have contributed to the problem. Our appetites for material consumption have gradually become larger and larger than our pocket books. We have become a nation of debtors rather than savers.

How many people do you know that are not up to their ears in debt for all of the things that they have bought? And how many of those even have a penny in a savings account much less even own one single stock on Wall Street? How many have saved for a rainy day?

Where is the common sense? If you can't pay off your credit card each and every month to avoid the interest payments then why have the credit card? The credit card should be treated as cash and paid off in full every month.

And how many politicians are now stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for what they have sold to the people? And what about the developers, realtors, mortgage lenders, appraisers, lawyers, accountants and flip artists who all worked in concert with the politicians over the last several years to sell every American on the dream that everyone should and could live in a house?

I can recall radio, TV, newspaper and magazine ads propagating the myth that it was now cheaper to own a home than to live in an apartment. All you had to do was obtain a readily available interest-only mortgage. Lie upon lie has been heaped on the public over the past several years by all of these so-called professions.

I even stumbled on an article which explained how many Hispanic politicians organized in concert with Hispanic Realtors nationwide with one of our most notorious financial institutions, Countrywide Financial, to get as many Hispanics into homes as possible using whatever means necessary. And why? Because their research determined that 68% of caucasians in America lived in houses versus only 47% for Hispanics. And so they did everything in their power to close the gap.

Unfortunately, they did many unethical and and even illegal things to accomplish their goal. It is not surprising that all of them are now remaining silent. Afterall, they have all lined their pockets one sale or one property or one commission at a time to the detriment of $8,000,000 buyers who now cannot pay the increase spelled out in their adjustable rate mortgage. Notice that a disproportionate number of foreclosures are occurring in the States of Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California.

How many times did I hear the Mayor of Chicago say he wanted to make Chicago the most expensive City in America and that he wanted to make Chicago the condo capitol of America? And how many times did I hear him say that it was the Yuppies he catered to that were paying the bills in the form of vastly increased real estate taxes. Never mind all of the low income neighborhoods that were transformed by gentrification to high income neighborhoods.

And never mind what the developers were doing. For the most part we were told they could be trusted. We didn't need government Inspectors monitoring their work because who knew better how to build than they did. They were the pals of City Hall. No one was allowed by the politicians to get in the way of the realtors and developers because in the end that meant a multi-fold increase in sorely needed Real Estate Tax revenue. In the end, on top of everything else, many people have paid for and bankrupted buying overvalued junk.

Wall Street is not solely to blame for any of this. They did not create the massive consumer mortgage debt. They simply got stuck with it because that is how the mortgage system has always worked. Wall Street is just the end player in a very long chain of mortgage lending.

However, I am still confused about why someone didn't blow the whistle a long time ago. It now seems like this whole thing has become like a nasty game of musical chairs where Wall Street has been caught holding the bag and so must take all of the blame.

I might agree with your idea of kicking doors down, pointing rifles, zip tying and prison for all those who committed these crimes except it really is not exactly clear where to draw the line. You might have to take every single person involved in the so-called “housing industry” to Court. How many million citizens would that amount to? And oh, I forgot about all of those accountants who review our income tax returns. You know there are over 350,000 of these citizens working in that profession. I am sure that many of them realized a long time ago that it didn't make sense for anyone earning less than $80,000 a year to own a $250,000 house or condo and so on. Are they guilty too because they didn't speak up? Maybe half of the people in our beautiful country are guilty.

Surely you want to obtain a fair trial for all of the guilty parties in a Court of Law. Afterall, what you are fighting for is the Rule of Law and not the Rule of Violence? Isn't that correct?

I think the truth is there are too many guilty parties to be counted. Whether the number is several million or a hundred million is beside the point.

I think it is patently unfair that those of us who know how to balance their checkbook, intelligently manage their credit cards, live within their means, pay all of their taxes fairly and on time that we will soon have to pay excessively higher taxes for years to come covering all of the reckless financial behavior of the rest of us. It is sort of like having a family member who is consumed by one or more of the vices of alcohol, drugs, gambling or paid sex to the detriment and financial ruin of the entire family. Except this time the entire family is the entire country.

Like most of us I worry every day not only about how bad things have become but how much worse they might become. Nobody really seems to know. I only hope there is enough money, common sense and will to work left to save us all from being sucked into a vast pool of poverty.

I hope you and your family will survive this mess. In fact, I hope we all will and when it is over I hope all of us and not just some of will know what it takes to keep America strong.


Andrew
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 12:50 am

What should I bring to NYC? A pitchfork or some tar and feathers?


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Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 2:20 am

If you ask me, the financial sector needs fewer clever people in it. A “brain drain” might benefit other sectors that previously couldn't afford top talent.


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Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 5:09 am

How about solutions?


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Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 6:06 am

Amen! Greedy folks on Wall Street share a great deal of the blame for the mess we are in. Here in middle America, folks are really angry about these bonuses. Here, in the heartland, if you do a bad job, there are NO bonuses. They did a bad job.


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Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 6:15 am

OMG!!!!11!!

If u dnt giv me my bns, im takin yr # out f my faves list

and yr cloths r ugly too

I agree. Call their bluffs. I would love to be a fly on the wall at some of the few job interviews that would actually happen.

“So, why did you leave your last company?”

“Well, they didn't pay me a bonus.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Applicant. We'll keep your resume on file. NEXT!”


Porkchopicus_of_Borg
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 6:19 am

“'A bonus is not part of your salary, as much as some of you might like to think it is.”

Actually, for some people in some industries, bonuses are explicitly stated as being part of income in the employment agreement. That being said, I agree that if your company needs a bailout, you shouldn't expect to receive that bonus.


Proud Capitalist
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 7:50 am

Way to get that promo for Monster.com in you article. I hope you claim the money you get from them on you taxes. Yes, there are plenty of talented people looking for work, including writers. Let's let the government run everything. They've done such a great job at the Veterans Hospital, with Social Security, and the like. Have you had a great time exploring the talent running the Unemployment offices? Good luck. I'd rather put my faith in the people than government officials.


Terrible
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 8:50 am

EXCUSE ME! BUT them getting a bonus out of tax-payer dollars IS THE SOCIALISM!!!! Does anyone on Wall Street actually know the English language??? Them getting nothing because they're failures would be free market capitalism! Christ!


Evan
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

Wow, they have the audacity to call intervening to stop bonuses socialism, when the only reaon they even still have a job is the socialist bailout of the banking center at the expense of the rest of the economy.

These people need to get there bankrupt companies shuttered so we can allow the productive economy to expand into the space taken up by the parasites


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Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

Handing criminal bankers taxpayer money is socialism


The Sailor
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

>”I think going forward instead of trying to rip apart a system that has worked for more than 90% of the last 150 years, rip off our nose to spite our faces, we should work for transparency. “

There were laws and regulations that would have prevented this exact situation, they were rolled back by Bush & Clinton due to greed. (Just like wanting bonuses is greed, nothing else. ) Bonuses, if anything, should be performance based. The only success that the bailed out companies have had is proving their econ theories are wrong.


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Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

Let's hear you call Boris Karloff an asshole.


Lincolnparadox
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

Technically, the government bailing out the banks in the first place is socialism, too. I don't know why the federal government didn't just give citizens the money to pay off their mortgages and consumer debt. The banks, which own the mortgages and credit card companies, would get their money to remain liquid, and most Americans would be more out of debt. It's a win-win scenario.

The way that it has been done, the banks are either hoarding the money, or using it to buyout other banks (or give their top brass bonuses). It isn't freeing up credit, or maintaining the liquidity of the banks.


Derrick
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 6:24 pm

I have no interest in defending Wall Street bonuses – now when Merrill can so easily be used as a counter example. However, here is one way to look at it the issue and the “S” word. Suppose you had to take a substantial portion of your net worth and invest it in one of two groups of companies: the first is all the banks that have received TARP. They screwed up, were run by total idiots, etc, etc, etc, and now the government is the de-facto majority shareholder. For the sake of argumet, pretent that their balance sheets are now in relatively good shape thanks to the TARP funds (OK, a stretch, but work with me for the sake of the example). Now take a group of banks who did not take TARP funds, whatever shape their balance sheets are in. If you had to invest in one group over the other for ten years, which would you chose? Without even looking at the balance sheets, I suggest group B. This is not because they are clearly the smarter managers. It is because the TARP banks will be managed via headline and political opinion, not by economic fundamentals. I am in no way excusing the prior bahavior of these banks when I suggest that the more the government has a hand in running these banks, the worse of we all will be. First they will go after bonuses, which I would say is 50% justified and 50% “lets screw the rich.” No problem, the rich deserve said screwing these days. Then they will go after marketing budgets, like BofA's activities at the Super Bowl. Call that 20% justified, 80% “We hate to see bankers have any fun at all.” The next step, and this is not some right-wing consiracy theory, will be to force banks to lend to people. From there, it wil be to force banks to lend to certain groups for political purposes. These are not likely to be the best credit risks, but that will not be the governments concern. Meanwhile, when (if?) the economy picks up, the poor bastards who have been working sans-bonus (and doing just enough to avoid getting fired – why should they do more?) will move over to the non-TARP banks, which will steal market share, make loans to credit worthy customers, and actually think about generating a return on equity. The problem is not that the bankers deserve zero bonuses (I WILL add that I know a lot of banker/finance types, and there was precious little money going around, so I dont know where the heck this bonus number that is so controversial comes from). My point is that the line between rightous anger and banking-by-political-whim is a thin one. I would put all my money on the non-TARP banks, and short the TARP banks, if that is still legal.


Derrick
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

I think you have a fair point. Lack of regulation probably led to this crisis. We risk making equally bad mistakes if the pendulum swings too far the other way. This is a complicated issue and should be treated as such.


Derrick
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

Small guy – you might be right! At least in part. After reading your post, I went back and looked at the press release from the New York State Comptrollers Office, and I think you are correct that the bonuses were paid in 2008 – which SHOULD mean that a certain portion was for 2007. I doubt it is all, as some firms do pay before Christmas and perhaps the office was looking at tax documents that included provisions for bonsues (I have no idea if this is true). In any event, a 44% decline seems pretty rough if you also consider that one out of ten people on Wall Street lost their job (much worse than the overall labor pool – but fair enough given that it was the epicenter of the crisis) and that you could make a case that a lot of people contributed to the profitability of their companies and actually earned a bonus. To put it in non-Wall Street terms: If my job is to sell shovels and I beat my sales targets, but some guy who sells rakes loses a LOT of money, should I get paid ot not? It would also help explain why I dont know a soul on Wall Street (I know a lot of folks in the industry) who made anything more than a token bonus, of they were even employed. This is an interesting issue – thanks for bringing it up. BTW here is n excerp from the release and a link to the site:
“DiNapoli’s office estimates that the bonus pool paid by the securities industry to its employees in New York City totaled $18.4 billion in 2008 based on personal income tax collections and other factors, including industry revenue and expense trends. This represents a decline of 44 percent compared with the $32.9 billion paid in 2007. The decline is the largest on record in absolute dollars and the largest percentage decline in more than 30 years, but the size of the bonus pool is still the sixth largest on record. “
http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/jan09…


Derrick
Comment posted February 2, 2009 @ 7:13 pm

Actually I may have messed up – it SEEMS like these are bonuses paid for performance in 2008, although I annot figure out how they would get that information so quickly.


Porkchopicus_of_Borg
Comment posted February 3, 2009 @ 5:37 am

“we all need to be cognizant of is the fact that many of those responsible for the shoddy decisions are gone”

Objection. Assuming facts not in evidence.


Anonymous
Comment posted February 3, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

If that top agency trader is so good, then he can carry his non-bonus-getting rear end to another financial institution and see if he fares any better over there.

Otherwise, cry me a river.


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The folks at the bottom of the pyramid have gotten very tired. They have laid down their tools, given up the noble “Family” notion, tossed morals to the wind, no longer seek “steady employment', couldn't give a damn about churches , have found pot, booze, and cocaine. Can't afford health care and have let it slide, Won't ever try to “own” a home, they know it is just a con, Look on jails for food and shelter when the streets get cold or rough, Live in cars, vans, cardboard boxes, hidden corners in cities, anywhere cheap, and every day the “disenfranchised”, join the “disenchanted”, hardening themselves for death or revolution, no matter, the consequence is the same. America, the base of your pyramid is crumbling fast!


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