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Oh the Oppression! Oh the Tyranny! Oh the doG-awful Whining With No Reason!

10:55 am in Government, Media, Politics by dakine01

I was looking through various “news” web sites this morning when I came across this article from Tiger Beat On the Potomac (h/t Mr Pierce). The headline alone made me shake my head, “Wall Street gets misty as Bloomberg departs” then it just got worse as I read the “article”:

Michael Bloomberg - Cartoon

Michael Bloomberg – Cartoon

Michael Bloomberg isn’t leaving office until January but Wall Street is already beginning to miss the New York City mayor — and bracing for a possible backlash from his replacement.

In his 12 years leading the city, Bloomberg has been a vocal champion of New York’s business and banking communities. When the knives have come out, he has time and again come to the defense of the financial services industry without batting an eye at the political reality that advocating for Wall Street is a highly unpopular move for public officials.

Awwww. Da poor widdle babies have their fee-fees hurt by those big bad people, led by a politician who thinks they might do a bit more to pay for services:

Many in New York’s business and financial elite, stung by the abrupt ascent of Bill de Blasio, an unapologetic tax-the-rich liberal, are fixated on a single question: What are we going to do?

The idea that someone like DiBlasio might replace Bloomberg as NYC Mayor seems to set alarums blaring among the power elite and rich in New York.

Give. Me. A. Fucking. Break.

A couple of years or so ago, I wrote a diary after reading some whines from JP Morgan/Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Now we have more of the rich 1% from Wall St whining about how their taxes might go up and how dare he! From Raw Story:

New York City, like much of the nation, is living with a vast divide between rich and poor. In appearances leading up to Tuesday’s primary election, Brooklyn-based Democrat di Blasio decried these inequalities, saying, “We are not, by our nature, an elitist city. We are not a city for the chosen few,” statements that have set off alarm bells among the city’s top tier of business leaders and the well-to-do.

Oh those oppressed Titans of Wall St and Masters of the Universe! They are so oppressed, just like the Fundamentalist Christians and straight white men, they never get things their way. Why, they just might have to go on Food Stamps after they pay their taxes in a DiBlasio administration:

When it comes to average per capita wealth, New York City has been eclipsed by a handful of other locales, but the city that never sleeps still holds sway in the public imagination as the capital of capital, the center of the financial industry, and a place where a $235,000 salary still only counts as middle class. But, as a couple of recent articles show, New York isn’t just a center of American wealth: it’s also a center of American wealth inequality, a place where the divide between the very rich and the very poor is sometimes only a matter of a few hundred feet … as the crow flies.

I’m sure you’ll pardon me if I shed no tears for these members of the Clueless Class.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor
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Oh Noes! Wall Street Might Not Get Their Bonuses!

3:26 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

So I was doing my standard web surfing this AM after I had checked the (non-existent) jobs listings when I saw this from Bloomberg with the title, “Half of Wall Street Employees Expect Bigger Bonuses”:

Almost half of Wall Street employees expect their year-end bonuses to be higher this year than they were a year ago, according to an eFinancialCareers.com survey.

Of the 911 U.S. financial professionals who responded to the e-mailed survey, 48 percent anticipate a higher payout, up from 41 percent in a similar survey last year, the job-search website said today in a statement. Employees of hedge funds and other asset managers were more optimistic than those at banks and broker-dealers, according the statement. Of the respondents, 82 percent work for U.S.-based companies.

Well imagine my surprise this afternoon when I see this one from Bloomberg titled “Wall Street Bonus Pool Seen Shrinking for Second Straight Year”:

Wall Street’s cash bonus pool is likely to fall for a second straight year as the financial industry grapples with market turmoil, economic weakness and new rules, New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

Revenue and compensation trends have “edged downward” since February, when DiNapoli estimated that the 2011 pool for Wall Street declined by 13.5 percent to $19.7 billion, the comptroller said today in a report.

The New York Times presented it this way this afternoon:

It still pays to be on Wall Street.

Even as the financial industry in New York has slashed jobs by the thousands, the average worker who remains is collecting a near-record paycheck.

In a report released on Tuesday, the New York State Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, said that the average pay package of securities industry employees grew slightly last year and was up 16.6 percent over the past two years, to $362,950. Wall Street’s total compensation rose 4 percent last year to more than $60 billion.

CNBC appears to be trying to split the differences with this report titled “Wall Street Expects Bigger Bonuses But May Not Get Them” as they report on the same survey that Bloomberg covered in the first link:

Revenue is down on Wall Street but expectations for bonuses are up — at least for some workers who have seen their pay shrink since the financial crisis explosion.

A survey from eFinancial Careers shows 48 percent of workers on the Street are looking for higher bonuses than 2011. Expectations are high even as investment banking revenue is down 11 percent for the same period last year while the securities industry overall saw revenue fall 7 percent in the first half.

At the same time, some of the larger firms have been doing better as the headwinds from the European debt crisis subside and hopes grow that the industry will close the year out strongly.

Meanwhile as Wall Street whines its way along, our (not-so-favorite) Masters of the Universe, Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon are once again daring to spout their nonsense. Jon Walker at FDL Action presents this:

What I find most ironic about these CEO deficit hawks complaining about the “uncertainty” that is hurting the economy is that they are the ones responsible for helping to create said uncertainty to begin with. The deficit obsession created the uncertainty about raising the debt ceiling. Similarly, they constantly pushed for a big deficit deal resulting in the creation of the sequesters, which are seen as a big source of the fiscal uncertainty at the moment. The main “uncertainty” about government policy right now is how the government will clean up the mess created by past efforts to force a deficit deal.

But hey, MotU never have to be accountable for destroying the economy. After all, they deserve those millions dollars of bonuses right? Destroying the global economy is hard ass work so they must be compensated for it.

Meanwhile, CNN actually touches base with the real world with this article on part time jobs being the new normal in employment. Notice how much attention is paid to the ravings of Blankfein and Dimon and the Wall St WATB versus the attention paid to the rest of us in the real world?

And because I can:
Happy Birthday John. RIP

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

Just how bad must wages and benefits be for most people?

9:15 am in Economy by dakine01

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In my post from a couple of days ago, I linked to and quoted from this from Yahoo quoting former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:

In addition, while the economy has been expanding for nearly three years and hiring is picking up, Reich notes, “we also see some major declines in terms of median wage. And that’s particularly true for the bottom 90 percent.”

In the past, economists argued that wage growth lagged in part because employers were spending more on benefits like health care and pensions. But that hasn’t been the case in the past few years. A recently released study from the National Institute for Health Care Reform shows that in 2010, the percentage of Americans with insurance who got insurance from employers fell to 53.5 percent, down sharply from 63.6 percent in 2007. “At the top of the talent chain, employers are providing very generous health insurance, deferred compensation, and everything you can imagine,” notes Reich. “But as you go down the job ladder, particularly to people who are doing routine jobs, they’re getting less and less. There has been a substantial erosion of health care benefits for the bottom 90 percent.

As I surfed the various news sites this morning though, I did find a couple of articles pointing out that some groups are still seeing their salaries and benefits go up, so all is not lost.

In the “No CEOs Left Behind” category, we have this article from today’s (April 4) USA Today, “CEO pay soars while workers’ pay stalls”:

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Two years of scaling back amid tough economic times proved temporary as three-quarters of CEOs got raises in 2010 — and, in many cases, the increases were substantial.

This blog post from Reuters written by a corporate board member points out a few of the problems with executive pay:

There are several factors at play as the remunerations committee and the board as a whole try to weave together pay packages.

Compensation consultants.
…snip…
Personal feelings.
…snip…
A disconnect from today’s reality.
…snip…
A lack of direct accountability.

I especially like that third point. A disconnect from today’s reality indeed. And speaking of disconnects from today’s reality, we have this from Bloomberg today on rising Wall Street salaries for most:

Most Wall Street (S5FINL) employees got higher salaries in 2011, with the biggest bumps going to those at boutique banks and alternative asset managers, according to a survey by eFinancialCareers.com.

The online survey of 2,860 financial professionals found that 54 percent received salary increases — excluding bonus — and 40 percent reported no change from 2010, according to an e- mailed description of the survey’s findings. Workers at so- called bulge-bracket banks got an average increase of 3 percent, compared with a 14 percent gain for people at boutique banks and a 13 percent raise for those at fund managers.

When year-end bonuses were included, average pay last year fell for workers at companies including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)’s investment bank amid declining revenue. As year-end bonuses dropped, some banks raised base salaries that in past years contributed just a fraction of pay for senior employees.

But no matter what happens, we can be assured that Jamie Dimon will find something to whine about. Why just this morning, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission has fined JPMorgan the astronomical sum of $20M to settle charges related to the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS! (/Dr Evil voice) Why based on JPMorgan’s reported profit from 2011 of $19B, that’s a whopping .1%. By my rough math, that is less than a half day’s worth of profits.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

These are only problems for the top 1%

12:12 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

Sign reads: "War On Greed - starring Henry Kravis and his homes" Photo: Brave New Films, on flickr

Sign reads: "War On Greed - starring Henry Kravis and his homes" Photo: Brave New Films, on flickr

Author’s Note: Please take a few minutes and Join the Firedoglake Membership Program today. FDL provides the tools that help me and others extend our reach with our rants so we need to support FDL when we can.

If you read me often enough, you have probably noticed that I tend to check various news and opinion sites throughout the TradMed each morning, after I’ve spent a few minutes reviewing emails and jobs sites. Most of the time, I just shake my head at the various levels of stupidity I find, not being able to quite give it the full YOU HAVE GOT TO BE F*CKING KIDDING ME! treatment so richly deserved. Then there are days like today where teh stoopid is so truly dumbfounding.

Today, we have Henry Kravis, co-founder of private equity firm KKR, sending up a fine whine to Bloomberg on how tighter credit rules are forcing the private equity firms to kick in more of their own money and making buy-outs more expensive. Sayeth Mr Kravis:

“As the debt markets tighten and the cost of capital goes up, something has got to give,” Kravis said yesterday at the Bloomberg Dealmakers Summit in New York. “You just have to pay more.” 

Kravis, 67, said the cost of capital for a leveraged buyout has risen more than 2 percentage points since the firm agreed to buy Pfizer Inc.’s Capsugel unit in April, forcing buyers to put up more cash for deals and borrow less. Uncertainty in the equity markets also is making it more difficult to reap profits through initial public offerings or sales of companies owned by private-equity funds, he said.

…snip… Read the rest of this entry →

Just How Many Speeches Did Ben Bernanke Give Yesterday?

6:46 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Author’s Note: Please take a few minutes and Join the Firedoglake Membership Program today. FDL provides the tools that help me and others extend our reach with our rants so we need to support FDL when we can.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a speech yesterday (Tuesday, June 7) to the International Monetary Conference in Atlanta, GA. Only one speech. Yet looking around the Toobz at the various headlines at news sites on this speech, it must have been an all things to all people speech as I’ve found at least four different perspectives presented, some of them directly contradictory.

The most prevalent theme appears to be The Benbernank as cheerleader (links embedded in titles):

Then there are the deficit hawk headline writers:

AP via USA Today: Bernanke: We ‘urgently’ need to fix the debt problem (with the same AP article as MSNBC)

NY Times: Fed Wants Priority Put On Deficit

The almost cheerleader:

And finally, the seemingly contradictory:

So taken all together, it seems that things are bad but getting better except where they aren’t; everything is going to be just fine; we need a stimulus except where we don’t; and except for that pesky jobs thing, it’s all good.

Meanwhile, in today’s ‘water is wet’ articles, Jamie Dimon whines to the Benbernank about the new banking rules:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke whether regulators have gone too far by reining in the U.S. banking system and are slowing economic growth.
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Jamie Dimon’s Move Cost How Much?

8:41 am in Economy, Financial Crisis by dakine01

Yesterday morning (Friday, April 8), I was doing my regular surfing of news sites, after once again not finding any jobs in my daily job search when I came across this story from Reuters on the pay that JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon received for 2010. The thing that caught my eye most of all however was not the $20.8M in total compensation. Nor was it the $5M cash bonus on top of the $1M cash salary for the year. No, the items that caught my eye were at the bottom of the article on the “perks” Dimon received:

His 2010 compensation also included $579,624 worth of perks, including $421,458 of “moving expenses,” $95,293 to use company aircraft and $45,730 for personal automobile use. Most of the rest went toward home security.

Like many Americans who have had trouble selling their homes, Dimon did too. The moving expenses relate to the sale in 2010 of Dimon’s Chicago-area home, in which he had lived while heading Bank One Corp that was sold to JPMorgan in 2004.

CNN/Fortune’s Wall Street Blog puts the total cost of Dimon’s “move” since 2008 at:

JPMorgan forked over $421,458 last year to compensate Dimon for moving costs incurred as he moved his family from Chicago to New York. Yes, moving is hell, but you don’t know the half of it.

This is the second time in three years that the bank picked up a six-figure sum for Dimon’s relocation – which ended up taking five costly years from end to end. The bank has kicked in $617,734 since 2008 to cover the move.

Now back in the days when I was gainfully employed, I moved a bunch of times for my then employers. I’m single with no dependents other than my feline companion and I’ve always rented so I have not had to worry about selling a home but still, how the hell do you rack up $617k in moving expenses for one move?

I’ve moved myself and the rental truck, time out of the office, overnight lodging and everything when I’ve moved myself hasn’t even reached $1,500 total. I had one employer that paid bonuses to us when we voluntarily relocated for a job and covered the professional moving companies. In those moves, the costs for out of office time, food and lodging, trips to find a new apartment and the actual movers were still under $10K and with the bonuses, added up to a total of $25K. Granted, my household goods fit into one half of one 18 wheel moving truck and the apartments/town homes/houses I’ve rented were generally in the 1,200 to 1,700 square foot range rather than nine bedroom mansions.

As well, I do wonder how a person racks up $45,730 worth of “personal automobile use” in a year’s time. The 2010 IRS mileage rates were 50¢ per mile and I seriously doubt that Dimon actually drove himself 91K miles during the year (45,730 divided by .5). Maybe this is what they paid for Dimon to have a personal chauffeur? Is this figure deductible by JP Morgan Chase on their corporate taxes? Since tax payers have already subsidized the bank bail outs, it would not surprise me that we continue to subsidize them and their lordly ways.

We can probably start a new countdown to the next fine whine from Mr Dimon on how no one loves him. You would think that someone who is supposed to be such a smart Master of the Universe could actually buy a clue but I’m not holding my breath.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy

Mr Dimon, Would You Like Some Cheese with that Whine?

9:09 am in Economy, Financial Crisis by dakine01

Friday morning, Reuters has a headline:

Special report: Jamie Dimon wants some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

This would be JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, one of the bailed out banks that did more than their share to destroy the US and world economy.

At last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the JPMorgan Chase chief executive once again lambasted the media and politicians for portraying all bankers as greedy evil-doers.

It was at least the 12th time since the start of the financial crisis that Dimon has complained about Wall Street critics painting all bankers as cut from the same cloth. But the timing of his latest outburst seemed odd.

To their credit, Reuters goes on to point out a number of reasons why Dimon should not be whining, not least of which is the appointment of William Daley, former JP Morgan executive, as President Obama’s Chief of Staff. They also point out that the Dimon self image just might be a bit of PR fluff:

But there’s another side to the popular narrative about Dimon the Good and how he outperformed his peers by steering clear of things like subprime-backed mortgage securities. In reality, the main reason JPMorgan didn’t load up on subprime debt as much as other banks was because it was slow to enter the market, critics say.

Critics point out that JPMorgan, even if it wasn’t a leader in churning out collateralized debt obligations, provided some of the building blocks for these toxic securities through all the home loans and second mortgages it sold.

And despite his good-guy image, Dimon is just as aggressive as any banker when it comes to looking for ways to generate fees from credit cards and other staple consumer banking products.

To further the imposition of reality on Dimon’s world view of the beleaguered banker just trying to help people is this reported yesterday (via the NY Times) that JP Morgan had hidden doubts about Bernie Madoff while continuing to do business with him.

On June 15, 2007, an evidently high-level risk management officer for Chase’s investment bank sent a lunchtime e-mail to colleagues to report that another bank executive “just told me that there is a well-known cloud over the head of Madoff and that his returns are speculated to be part of a Ponzi scheme.”

…snip…

Despite those suspicions and many more, the bank allowed Mr. Madoff to move billions of dollars of investors’ cash in and out of his Chase bank accounts right until the day of his arrest in December 2008 — although by then, the bank had withdrawn all but $35 million of the $276 million it had invested in Madoff-linked hedge funds, according to the litigation.

Bill Clinton weighs in on Dimon’s side (somewhat) in this Reuters article, also from this morning:

Bill Clinton says the “jury may still be out” on whether behemoth banks like JPMorgan Chase are good for America.

But the former president said he remains a fan of Jamie Dimon, largely because the JPMorgan chief executive is one of the few top bankers willing to speak his mind and admit mistakes.

“I know that Jamie Dimon did not like everything in the financial reform bill, but he supported higher capital requirements for banks,” said the former president, during a half-hour phone conversation last month. “He has been more forthright than a lot of (bankers).”

And just so folks don’t think I’m picking only on Dimon and JP Morgan Chase, there’s this from Sunday’s NY Times Magazine with an interview with Goldman Sachs partner Abby Joseph Cohen showing that Dimon is far from being the only clueless feck on Wall Street.

Do you think it’s ethically justifiable that certain bankers earn $50 million or $60 million a year at a time when unemployment is nearly 10 percent and income inequality is widening in this country?
The income inequality that you refer to is apparent in many different places. You see it in athletics; you see it in entertainment; you see it in your industry as well. You take a look at the compensation of C.E.O.’s of major corporations, recognizing that those corporations have become much larger —they do business in many different parts around the world — and it’s very difficult to know how to properly benchmark the compensation.

…snip…

Do you feel any responsibility for the economic meltdown of 2008, which you failed to foresee?
That’s an odd question to be asking me.

Because?
I did not think that was part of what we were going to be talking about.

Uh, Ms Cohen? Athletes and entertainers didn’t destroy the global economy, bankers did.

And because I can: