Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CNN Reports "Bank Presidents Flogged in Washington"

Oh, how I wish this were literally true. Bank presidents. Flogged. I think that you could televise the event and make back a fair amount of the bail out funds in advertising. Wouldn't you want to see John Thain beaten with his $1400 wastebasket?

It simply doesn't stand to reason that:

- Merrill Lynch, a dying bank, entrusted with billions in assets from depositors and due billions in bail-out funds, hands out over $3.6 billion (that's BILLION) in bonuses to their employees, including over $121 million in bonuses for the top four executives alone. Over 700 employees received bonuses of $1 million or more. Is there any believeable scenario that would justify any of these payments? These executives failed in spectacular fashion; why are they so richly rewarded?

- Citigroup, a problem child for the last couple of years at least, was about to take delivery on a $50 million corporate jet just after taking about $45 billion in government bail out cash.

- Morgan Stanley decided to use the $10 billion or so in government aid to gorge itself on aquistitions like the Smith Barney unit of Citigroup rather than use the money as capital for lending and the like.

Meanwhile, their "non-troubled" counterparts in the banking business that didn't need help because they had actually been, well, prudent, in the past are left to plod forward without the benefit of the massive orgy of profit without risk. How is this in any way right? If you were the CEO of FifthThird Bank or Huntingdon Bank, wouldn't you be livid right now? You've worked day and night to compete with these crooks while they played fast and loose with little care about the risk, but you kept things on the straight and narrow to preserve operations for the long term. Now the market hands your rivals their comeuppance and they still have the upper hand due to the government bail out. It isn't fair. It simply isn't.

Shoot, I've worked for companies where even meager bonus plans were suspended because the company made a 5% profit rather than the "planned" 7%. These guys at Merrill Lynch lost more in three months than ConocoPhilips, IBM, HP or General Electric made in one year. That's not some "small difference", it's a staggering, corporation-crushing loss and you are handing out bonuses to the tune of $3.6 billion in government money?

I'm like everyone else on this -- these bankers are scum. Selfish money manipulators, they are no better than Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers.