Posts tagged ‘Wall Street’

Turkey Stuffing, Wall Street Style

There will be no shortage of turkey stuffing this year, thanks to a story from Joshua Brown’s The Reformed Broker site (Wall Street Turkeys…Full of Stuffing).

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, which turkeys did journalist Terry Keenan roast?

Timothy Geithner: A fledgling economy and aggressive fiscal measures have painted a big target on Geithner’s back. I don’t fall into the “let’s lynch Geithner” camp, but Keenan feels “It’s a fair bet President Obama’s least-popular appointed official won’t be around to roast next Thanksgiving. “

John Thain: The former Merrill Lynch CEO and Bank of America executive who spent $1.2 million redecorating his Manhattan office made the list too. The man referred to as “I-Robot” may be difficult to cook, but regardless the article claims he is seeking to find employment running a different public company in the mean time.

Larry Summers: As the Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, Mr. Summers has done a respectable job of flying below the radar, but not low enough to escape his past as Harvard University’s President (and the associate poor performing endowment).

Jeffrey Immelt: GE is no weakling, weighing in around $170 billion in market cap, but Keenan highlights the fledgling performance of NBC over the last two decades as reason to stuff this turkey.

Vikrim Pandit: The CEO of Citigroup survived a tumultuous period in 2009. Keenan however underscores how:

“His image suffered a big blow at the hands of Andrew Ross Sorkin, who paints an unflattering portrait of Pandit in his best-selling book, Too Big to Fail. If Pandit can’t play the “source game” to his advantage, it’s hard to see how he’s up to the much tougher task of reviving Citi’s fortunes.”

Now that we’re done with the turkey, could you please pass the stuffing.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and its clients own certain exchange traded funds (including VFH), but currently have no direct positions in BAC, GE, or C. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

November 25, 2009 at 2:08 am Leave a comment

Banking Pigs Back at the Trough

PigsTrough

Sooey! With some of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) government loans paid back, it appears that the malnourished pigs of the banking sector are hungry again and back at the trough for loftier pay packages. A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out Goldman Sachs is on track to pay its employees $20 billion in 2009, almost double the compensation of 2008, and forking out even a higher average ($700,000 per employee) than 2007.

Beyond gluttonous appetites, these banking execs are attempting to make pigs fly as well. Like a magician using the art of illusion to move an object from one shell to the next, or divert attention with smoke and mirrors, these large Wall Street banks are shuffling around their compensation plans. A recent Bloomberg article noted that Citigroup Inc. is moving to raise base salaries by as much as 50% to help counterbalance reductions in annual bonuses. Citigroup is particularly in hot water because the U.S. bank received $45 billion in government fund assistance. According to the Wall Street Journal, similar trends are bubbling up at Zurich-based UBS, where executives raised banker base pay by 50%. Bank of America also said in March 2009 it may boost salaries as a percentage of total compensation. The banks are hoping that reducing bonuses tied to risky behavior, while raising salaries, will appease the regulators.

The governments “pay czar,” Kenneth Feinberg, may have something to say about these inflating compensation trends. The WSJ points out:

Feinberg will have the authority to regulate compensation for 175 executives at seven companies, including Citigroup, that received “exceptional” government help.

Compensation

As a rule of thumb, securities firms generally pay out approximately 50% of revenue in employee compensation. Bonuses have traditionally made up about two-thirds of bankers’ total compensation. Compensation consultant Alan Johnson in New York says salaries typically range from $80,000 to $300,000, with bonuses often adding millions of dollars. The article goes onto highlight the five biggest Wall Street firms awarded their employees a record $39 billion of bonuses in 2007. Sparking some of this heated debate stems from the eye-popping bonuses paid out to Merrill employees before the Bank of America merger. Merrill Lynch emptied $14.8 billion out of its wallet for pay and benefits last year before it was acquired by Bank of America – the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating $3.6 billion of the bonuses (tied mostly to payments made in December 2008).

To protect themselves, firms like Morgan Stanley and UBS have also added “clawback” provisions that allow portions of a worker’s bonus to be recouped under certain scenarios if the firms are harmed by an employee in the future. Perhaps this will create a disincentive for harmful behavior, but likely not enough to pacify the regulators

The pigs have regained their appetites and are eagerly awaiting for some more fixings at the trough. Time will tell if 2009 can produce squeals of swinish satisfaction or will regulators take the bankers to an unfortunate visit to the butchers?

July 6, 2009 at 4:01 am Leave a comment

Newer Posts


Receive Investing Caffeine blog posts by email.

Join 1,774 other followers

Meet Wade Slome, CFA, CFP®

DSC_0244a reduced

More on Sidoxia Services

Recognition

Top Financial Advisor Blogs And Bloggers – Rankings From Nerd’s Eye View | Kitces.com

Wade on Twitter…

Share this blog

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe to Blog RSS

Monthly Archives