Bing Blog

Maybe all this misery is just payback

Bummed Broker

God forgive me for the thoughts I'm having this morning.

I'm just wondering how they feel today, all the analysts and brokers from the financial institutions who are now being punished for the profligacy, stupidity, greed and wishful thinking of their masters. How they feel as they dust off their resumes and try to put the pieces back together in a world flooded with needy drifters just like them.

Do they feel like all my friends in years past who were downsized as a direct result of the kind of advice the Street gave to a variety of senior managers facing the issue of forced, quarter-to-quarter growth?

Do they feel like my pals at our former cable division, which was divested, in an act of completely moronic short-sightedness, when people like them decided that businesses who throw off cash flow but lower earnings per share were not worth keeping?

Do they feel sort of like the folks subsequently laid off from the corporation when, without that cash flow, it could no longer make the payroll it had once been able to support?

Do they feel like the employees of all the little firms that were reorganized, consolidated, de-consolidated or re-consolidated, given the whims and abstruse calculations of the geniuses who analyzed these things for the firms that are now sinking?

Do they feel like my buddies, Brewster and Armstrong and Molina and Frankovitch and all the others, who had to take early retirement when their business units were merged with other business units that were then spun off to juice the stock for a couple days, just to impress these guys?

Do they feel like the homeowners who are looking for short term rentals now, after the banks that are melting down could no longer carry their freight?

When I think of the just plain dumb stuff that Wall Street and its assorted salesmen, analysts, enabling bankers and callow spin-meisters have visited upon working companies over the years, it makes me want to choke. The arrogance. The willingness to see hundreds, thousands, lose their jobs as a result of their pronouncements and manipulations. Masters of Business all, they have been taught to see corporations not as places that employ people and provide a product or service, but as numbers on a balance sheet, a balance sheet that serves only one group: Investors.

Well, now the investors are taking it on the chin. A bunch of companies are feeling it too. And of course all those poor Street people are now reaping the payback from what their entire economic world-view has wrought.

They'll be back, of course. God forgive me if until then I succumb to occasional grim smile at the current proceedings.

180 Comments Add Comment

This is soooo true great job hope they all lose there vacation homes boat planes and little comforts that we all have lost because of there superior intelligents

I don't think you are far off the point. Wall Street wanted this unfettered competition for the rest of us, now that the chickens have come home to rest they need a bailout.

After gaming the system time after time, you can go back and forth on this, but what Wall Street did was always based on short run profit and long run destruction - innovation? Genius? - Give me a break!

These guys made millions by telling big lies - that is the name of the game for them. Now that they are in the gutter, they need to stay there.

Nor more taxpayer bailouts PLEASE!

Actually, balance sheets serve two groups: investors and the people who get multi-million dollar bonuses for producing "desirable" balance sheets.

As for the impact, I think the term for people who have no job and millions of dollars isn't "unemployed", it's "retired young."

all of those salesmen and analysts are smarter than us, possibly geniuses. they are walking away having made millions for themselves. i wouldn't be drepressed about losing my high stress job. i would take a vacation. i hear prices on beach houses in miami are really coming down.

Your wisdom is praiseworthy & I salute you for your comments on Karmic closure. When I graduated from a top Ivy league school and went into Non-profit to serve the poor and do what my passion was, these Big Bank recruiters mocked me at the pittance that I would be making, just becuase I said "No. Thank You" to their 6 figure offer! What I really wanted to do in life was so different from their goals! The Hubris, The Arrogance, The Condescending attitude these buggers had! I really feel happy that they are jobless. Indeed, life has come one full circle. I also feel that every common man in America and the world over who held any part of their portfolios or funds should sue them and extract the ex employees of these companies, dry.

BRAVO BRAVO

And the meek shall inherit the debt.

They spread their derivative tentacles out all over the financial system and now say that they must be rescued by government or it will bring everyone else down. This is like the computer programmer who keeps the only copy of his company’s software source code in his basement. Job security. If they were not so evil, I would have to admire them.

AMEN

They deserve all that they are getting now. After enjoying all of those nice salaries, fancy perks, and high-flying lifestyles, they can join us back in reality. They do not deserve any bailouts- they have all of that money that they made by raping the housing market. Where is the money they need now? Sitting in a yacht somewhere?

Perhaps the United States, as a whole, can also learn a lesson about reckless spending and start paying off our accumulating debt before the bill is due!

Thank you for writing that.

Maybe this is the Invisible Hand's way of telling us that the country really can't sustain this many "financial service product professionals."

Bing, always worth reading, and you said what I am thinking. I'll add one additional comment...I feel sorry for my recently retired friends who have to sit by and watch their retirement nest eggs shrink to hummingbird size thanks to the chicanery of these knaves. These people put in 25+ hard years to have to swallow this?

Well I'm glad to see someone else sees Wall Street for what it is and the 'what goes around, comes around' karma. Wall Street's relentless pressure on companies to raise earnings and profits forced many, many companies to shed employees who were 'profit centers', and then when the results of the layoffs were added up the companies realized their profits dropped. And let's not forget the pressure also forced many companies to outsource their work which led to other workers being laid off in the USA. Only later did the companies realize that some business matters could not be outsourced for a variety of reasons, and their profits dropped once again. What goes around, comes around.

Right on...

The Wall Street Boys and Girls have all become capitalists on the up side and socialists on the down side. (Heads I wim, tails you lose.) That's why I was happy to see Lehman go down and go down hard. There is nothing wrong with investment bankers jumping off office buildings when times get tough. It reminds those remaining that Risk is not a game. As they used to say in the old joke about lawyers, "What do you call a bus load of investment bankers going over a cliff?" - Answer - "A start."

Very well said Bing, but these guys have mustered so much money over the years that I don't think they would really feel the same way as other laid-off people.

Are they really paying a just price? They've received bloated compensation for years thanks to the risky bets they made. I'm sure they'll be able to withstand a few months of unemployment while the same can't necessarily be said for the rest of the country. The average American who is in jeapordy of losing his job and house will now have to face the inflationary and tax-hiking measures the Fed must take to keep the whole system from collapsing. It seems a lot of people will carry the heavy burden brought on by these mistakes.

I've been thinking the same thing. To all those Ivy League trained, highly paid money brokers: Nice job. Your brillance has done us all a lot of good. I bet level headed, middle class, state university grads would have done better. Life is about people, not money. All the greed and disregard of the elite is coming to haunt them. As a middle class person, I am angry about all this stupidity.

They do not feel SORRY, they could care less about the peons who work for a living. They have the BIG paychecks in the millions to fall back on. The regulators, lobbists and goverment were all in bed together. To them this business as usual.

Remember the Savings and Loan Crisis? Remember Enron and Worldcom? Where were the regulators? Where was the SEC? On the take as well? Probably. Why was this allowed to happen? Free trade? Right. Unrestricted free trade has meant nothing but unrestricted abuse. Now we all have to pay.

"Win some, lose some. But you keep on fighting and if you need a friend...get a dog."

I couldn't agree more, I am a big fan of irony and the most ironic and unfair situation was the suspension of naked short selling against banks and financials in the wake of the Fannie/Freddie bailout. The scum who short sold my company into the toilet has the advantage to ask the SEC to suspend short selling when it helps them.

Hopefully one of the outcomes of this painful episode will be a revaluation of stakeholders ( i.e. workers, communities ) and a complementary devaluation of stockholders. I fist witnessed the current business trend when working for a railroad: infrastructure and services were sacrificed in order to report short term and unsustainable financial gains. This shell game had to come to end at some point. Too bad it couldn't have happened more gracefully.

Brave words, but true.

It's too bad that most of the target audience for this will not see it.

Hopefully one of the outcomes of this painful episode will be a revaluation of stakeholders ( i.e. workers, communities ) and a complementary devaluation of stockholders. I fist witnessed the current business trend when working for a railroad: infrastructure and services were sacrificed in order to report short term and unsustainable financial gains. This shell game had to come to end at some point. Too bad it couldn't have happened more gracefully.

Wow, talk about being a bit vindictive. I'm glad that you're happy that all the secretaries, mail-room guys, admins, IT personnel, HR reps also will now be without jobs. Also, I hope your 401k and investments are doing all right now that the financial sector is in disarray.

You have crystalized my sentiments, exactly!

God doesn't need to forgive you since He is probably smiling as well.

Cant agree more.
And this is from a Trader.

Couldn't have put it better myself!

As one of my contacts on Wall St said yesterday: "The bill for the BS arrived and no-one could pay it!"

sub-primes, mortgage backed securities, credit default swaps and all of other weird and wonderful instruments were all layered on top of one simple dependency: That the schmuck at the bottom of the pile, namely the mortgage borrower was able to make his monthly payment. Like all pyramind and ponzi schemes and houses or cards, it was only a matter of time before some said "hang on a minute!............." and the whole pile came down.

However, money always follows the path of least regulatory scrutiny until the crash. S&L's in the 80's, skewed analysis and shady IPO valuations in the 90's and now Fixed Income antics in the new millenium.

Next up, hedge funds, private equity and sovereign wealth funds whose lack or ethics make even this weeks bunch of clowns blush.

My company is hiring. It's a perfect fit for these folks. Daily duties include:

*toilet cleaning
*floor cleaning
*window cleaning

Bing, you are bad. This is not the time to pour your bitterness on behalf of some of these victims of circumstance. They might be at the wrong place at the wrong time but they are humans with family to support too, with family to go hungry, with family to get humiliated. This is the time to reflect that there is God who is supreme being who have the final say. It's easy to forget God when everything seems under our control. When these people who are Doctors, Masters and super thinkers in Business who are graduates from a distinguished Universities who are now working in Wall Street. They thought that they can do anything in their power to spin business successes with greed. Cutting jobs from left to right, from up and down without feeling of symphathy to those who were affected. Yes, this might be a payback time but who knows we might be part of this singking ship later on. Our jobs and businesses might be safe this time as we are not working on the Financial Sector but who knows this economy can get bad and it will inflict further to the mainstream and all of us will get sunk. GREAT DEPRESSION is coming soon. Who knows.

Thank you for writing what I've been thinking for months. Karma's gonna getya. It's comforting, with all the greed and bloated salaries that have swamped Wall St. in the past decade, to know that they now feel a little of their own medicine.

I totally agree with you sir.

I smiled too when I read today's newspaper.

I totally agree. The US economy in recent decades has been based upon short term mindset targeting quick profits and undermined the critical aspect of sustainability of the business entities they've been playing with. Yes everything has been transformed into mere numbers on balance sheets to impress investors. No longer are the cardinal rules of job creation, long term viability, talent retention, community reinvestment to be upheld by any of these top executives. Hope the US corporate empires can and will this recent economic shockwave as lessons in building solid fundamentals in the economy rather than arbitraging on quick bucks with no remorse to the violation of rudimentary business rules.

AMENNNNNN

I can't help but hope that all of them go broke and stay that way. How could they be so irresponsible with people's lives? I don't feel one ounce of pitty. They were animals with the sub-prime, deceptive and ruthless. And they have the audacity to ask the tax payers to bail them out, and by tax payers I mean those who have no money because with Bush's tax cuts the poor pay for the country's burdens, while the rich cut jobs to maintain their bonuses. It blows my mind away, and makes me sick. Maybe one day the government will finally exist to serve for the benefit of hard working Americans, rather than the people exist to serve the government. God Bless America, we need it now AS MUCH AS ever.

I've noticed over my career, that when you look around and ask yourself a question like Who can afford all these houses for $800,000? there is really a very simple answer: almost nobody. We ran around playing the real estate game with smoke and mirrors, and it was fun while it lasted. Unwinding it sure is ugly, though!

Stanley,

Thank you for saying this! In Minnesota we used to be blessed by a great number of large, growing firms that cared about Minnesota as much as shareholders (the state even passed a law protecting that belief!) and now so many of them are hiring and firing with little care for the people.

Cheers, Cheshire Bing!
Sincerely,
Cheshire Hunley :)

Finally the real view. They also were so stupid not to realize in all their downsizing, outsorceing, off shoreing, etc. that they were elimating the domestic consumer that had put their paychecks in the marketplace. Nice job idiots.

Exactly, man.

Let us hope that companies will see this and bring jobs back to America! The largest buying group needs jobs so they have money. I am hopeful that some of the Oil Price inflaters are eating crow at the moment as they have made the little guy really feel the pinch.1

Are they really punished; all they did is put peoples money on the line. Lost jobs.. thats one; but they've probably made more the past few years than most americans make in a few decades; so maybe not that bad afterall.. that is for them.

Yes for people who lost their stakes; surely they got punished..

Exactly!!!

Great commentary.

Wow. Truer words were never spoken. Karma. Sometimes, it can be a b*tch.

Well Said. These financial companies have damaged this country and our national industries. Since these financial companies are dying off now, a good sign is that oil is coming down. Could it be that the economic oil woes that have hurt this country be a problem within our company and not outside.

I agree whole heartedly.
This fall out is a clear example of what happens when capitalism becomes cannibalism.

I don't take pleasure in others misfortune no matter what the circumstance. You fail to mention the cafeteria workers, the HR reps, the file clerks, the secretaries, the janitors, the tech guys etc. who are losing their jobs because of this as well. That being said, you are certainly correct in noting that the greed of those at the top have certainly hurt nearly everyone else.

"What comes around goes around" as they say. The Wall St. crowd deserves all its karma served up on paper plates with plastic forks on a windy, damp avenue.

I guess maybe the world has figured out that a mba is no longer a license to steal. All you 'sub prime' people rejoice!

Like the Bard said: "Revenge is a dish best served cold".

Wow, really? Not all wall streeters are corrupt, and many are now facing bleak futures with no job, bad market, and loss of retirement savings because much of their pay was tied to options. Its people like you that fuel ignorance and make it ok for people not to understand.

Sadly, I agree. I can’t count the family, friends, and neighbors who have been pushed into the “have nots” only to help build and promote the “haves” gluttonous and greedy growth. Business in America has sight of what business is all about; taking care of people by providing good quality products and services. There is no reason for this loss of vision other then blind greed.

My sentiments exactly. And I'd like to add all my friends who worked at the Bear and Lehman who had received stock as part of their packages over the years who decided to hang on to them so as to pay for their kids educations, mortgages etc. who look around wondering "Now what?"

Maybe they can all move to India and China and visit all the lost American jobs over there. Perhaps the smart ones will see that the jobs need to be here. It is nice to see the karma hit the dogma. Welcome to the world you created for the rest of us!

Agreed! I started my career as a derivatives trader and left (cashed out) after seeing it evolve into the house of cards it is (was) today.

Good riddance (and luck) to those saps as they try to rebuild their careers in this job market.

Hmm... a Different perspective.. Needs momemtum.. and Believers.. This karma analysis needs lot of research.. it gives an out of the box view of issues..

Bing:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Here I thought I was the only one thinking those thoughts. These people have turned American icon corporations into nothing but "holding companies" who add little to no value to anything. They've created this quarter-to-quarter thinking; to Hell with long-term growth and sustainability: we want profits NOW!

I am sure this type of thinking is directly responsible for the entire housing "crisis." Focus the banks on origination fees, ATM fees, and overdraft "protection" fees. Get them to the point of not caring who they make loans to because they won't remain on the bank's books, anyway. And so forth and so on. How many other industries have collapsed as a result of this type of thinking?

Now these poor, greedy Wall Street employees are in the same boat. No personal savings, leveraged to the gills, and competing with tens of thousands of others in a scarce job market. I hope reality isn't too bitter for their refined tastes.

I have the audacity to hope that perhaps this mess will cause corporate America and the government to re-think the way we do business here. You're probably right that these folks will come back with a vengeance, but we can always dream.

In the literal sense...BING... right on the button. Leadership begins by example, though if it is a human there are the eventual "human factors". This does not mean the "human factor" allows greed or individual achievement to become more so important than the collective well being of the "Company". However in this day and age when "it" is/ are use to have 20 bottles of Christal and spending like you are an empowered freak way beyond your means, well then you have what is known as a "negative equitable situation". The MBA pitbull on the street know what it means. The next step is to play with lives and numbers to try and create a "positive equitable situation" and hey maybe just maybe "it" will get a bonus this year...

But here is the truth: You let the reigns go.

You made loans to people who don't have the ability to pay on them. I'm not talking about the "Jone's" who had real hard times medically and financially who bounced back after getting bloody to survive, I'm talking about people who used it for what it was worth, and then just walked away as if it was a $1.00 that meant nothing and left the debt to be unpaid. The asset is there, but because of the irresponsible way the market was managed the asset is so overvalued that the loan would never happen in a "REAL" market. Traded and bought and resold suddenly when it is time to make capital for more "Cristal" you're lucky to get 20 bottles of Riunite on ice.

The responsibility to allow these kind of loans, suddenly starts to roll in, the band aid to the immediate economic situation suddenly becomes a fester and staff infected contagion of financial butchery.

Yet there are a few who knew, math is math and history is history, use them both and most of the time you'll get the indicator you are looking for, potentially not the direct one but close enough.

Someone asked Greenspan "What is the exit plan?" No reply.

Surfing the debt is a dangerous thing... The waves have crashed, the white water is here... some will make it some won't. The ones who do make it had better get the reigns...because they are the history that will go along with the math to prevent it from happening again.

Meanwhile the bodies of the "company" lay about rotting and festering and the one in the tower is going to have a wicked cleaning bill... and that one is every tax payer in the USA.

Maybe I'll take my MBA and pitbull like mentality and do some good with it... and by the way, ruinite is looking like gold to some today.

Amen. I'm one of the millions of American's who's job was sent to a third world country to increase the company's stock price and make investors happy. Believe me, there are plenty of people snickering that the Wall St. pigs are finally getting theirs.

thank you Bling!! my friends, co-workers and myself, have come to the same conclusion! way to go!

Ahmen, WELL SAID.....

I was thinking the very same thing last night while watching the news on this. Next stop will be the energy speculators.

Wow Bing, tell us what you think.

Right on Bing. I agree 100% and hope it will be a sea change of the business masters when they come back. Wishful thinking!

It's hard to have faith in investing when this debacle happens every 10 years.

We all cheered when the sharks at Enron choked on their own greed. But Enron was engaging in criminal activity. As Mr. Bing notes, all we can do is smile grimly at the justice of the marketplace, finally being meted out to investment bankers whose activities were no less callous or greedy than the brokers at Enron, and, sadly, perfectly legal.

My sentiments exactly.

Amen, My wife and I have been saying this for a long time. When the ladder of greed precedes commonsense, that last steps a doozey.

Amen....hopefully there will be come common sense that comes back to the market in the coming years.

Amen brother. But remember, we're not supposed to talk about those others, those employees from days gone by, those customers and poor families we lied to in order to sell them their loans so that we could get those big bonuses. No...when others got suckered or got fired...it was their own fault. Too ignorant, too lazy, too unlucky. And while All of them and their families have had to suffer, had to scrape by, had to worry about healthcosts and education and how to go on day to day, we were subjected to non stop NY Times articles about the Masters of the Universe and how their brilliance got these hedge fund people their god-like lifestyle. Huge parties, endless vacations, one home after another....it was thrown in our faces as if the american dream were to stay just that if you were not born into a family that could give you the connections necessary to rise to the top of the finance ladder. Well, lookey what that hath brought us? these geniuses have damn near destroyed the global economy ,and we will all suffer for years. Sorry fells...no sympathy from this boy either. ....cause what you reap, is what you sow.

Idiotic.

WOW, TRUE KARMA
The know it all street is taking the same medicine they prescribed to the companies.
I am fine with the meltdown, but why beg the FED to intervene.
When Lehmans, Bear sterns, Merrils made money , they never gave back to the FED , except for the taxes they needed to pay.

Is America Turning Solialistic ?

Here, Here!! Most eloquently put. I am not a human resource, I am a human being!

I have to consider this question of Wall Street;

How is all these Wall Sreet Economic experts that continually called the rise in the cost of oil and housing, never saw this coming????

I for one rejoice in the collapse of these Wall Street Mongrols...

Bing, you are right on the money! Dow is sinking and thank heavens for that. We have been arrogant and greedy for so long and this correction is way over due. Let's not panic and hope for the best.

It's not just maybe, but it is payback. And let's not forget how the world is perceiving the current liquidity crunch on the US financial institutions, especially asian countries. They have not forgotten the big economic storm that crippled their economies back in '97. Many are smiling as big as Julia Robert now!

Why would you feel guilty? I was thrilled yesterday when it seemed Paulson was finally going to "LET THE MARKET CORRECT". Ironic that we haven't heard those 4 words in the last few days. K-A-R-M-A

Try to be bit more bitter and have some cheese with that whine. This was utterly useless dribble.

I agree with you, almost entirely. For one, I'm glad that corporate heads will get to see by example the cost of making bad loans. I'm glad that business owners now will have a shimmering example of the fact that you need your customers to come back, and for that reason you cannot rip them off. I do disagree with you on one point though. Business ARE just a balance sheet. The thing that the financial companies seem to have missed by taking the high-risk, high-nonsense route to investing is that you have to consider more than TODAY's balance sheet. You have to think about tomorrow, and next year, and even five and ten years down the road as well. It doesn't take a genius to realize that prices cannot increase on anything forever. It doesn't demand very much market saavy or Wall Street expertise to see that you have to be repayed on your loans in order for them to be valuable. Spreading around a lot of risk lessens the blow, but as we've seen there's a WHOLE LOT of risk to go around, and if everyone takes a hit of it, we have serious issues. It was decidedly in the interest of folks making bad loans, and those backing said loans, to ensure that the people taking them out would be able to repay them. They decidedly failed to take that into account. And as a result, they now have less product to sell, and people to pay, because they're in a shrinking industry. Those things are not their purpose, but they are the things that immediately drop off when your balance sheet does. No matter what day it is.

Stanley,

The darkness of my thought parallels yours: as a sometimes conspiracy-theorist, I wonder if the Bank of Americas may have engineered the whole sub-prime fiasco, chummed the waters in some way, primed the greed pump, to be able to now gobble up the sinking companies at bargain prices.

The whole corporate mentality, it seems to me, may be a result of not having the extended family under one roof any more. For example, can you imagine one of those MBA-types having to explain to his Grandmother around the dinner table the wisdom of selling off a division based on 13 weeks of performance?

Business people would do well to consider that dinner table scenario before they made a decision like that. And now with fewer Americans living in their own homes, maybe some of that sanity will return...

Bing,
A big hearty Thank You for stating the feelings of many of us 'little people' so very well. Karma, fate, whatever, it's a deserved end for these morons who screwed so many for so little. These 'Captains of Industry' should be barred by the NYSE, Federal Reserve etc. from ever working in any US financial sector again.
Again, Thanks.

magnificent!

America better learn how to create wealth again and not just massage the wealth we have for the benefit of a few "kings".

Our economy, our country, our entire national financial system, our people, are experiencing the after effects of Wall Streets' Greed. What stupidity from the supposed best and brightest! Bright, yes, Best, NO. Their lack of character energized by their excessive greed has broken down what took honest bankers, honest employers, honest employees, nearly one hundred years to build. The insurance companies, investment bankers, and rating agencies were all in on this defrauding of America. They bundled bad loans, had them insured, then rated those bad loans investment grade and sold these securitized loans to domestic and foreign institutions. Not just Wall Street, but mortgage bankers, brokers, and banks participated in this fiasco. Their greed coupled with their lack of conscience, narcistic attitude, and unbelievable selfishness has just about brought down the American financial and banking system.

Genuis! I'm in a company that will soon throw me out the door for some of the reasons you state here. Shareholders, investors, are the only thing that matters. And then, I should pay more taxes to bail them out. As usual though, the true problem causers will get millions to leave the investment company, and working guys to fend for themselves.

wHAT CAN ONE ADD ? not much, you've hit the bull's eye, literally. I feel for the small people, those who just follow orders or get trimmed for raising an eyebrow and ask "Why ?" because the real perpetrators of this chaos of unprecedented proportions are well off, now, with their disgusting golden parachutes and handshakes, for disrupting the economy in such a broad way that only time will tell what will be the toll for the US and the rest of the world. It's kinda like a freight train running unchecked, ready to go thru a station and wreck havoc. Now it may be time to ask ourselves "what can we do for our country ?" Mr. Hak Paulson is doing a fine job as a fireman, but we need many others to get involved and stop the hemmoragy.
America, where have we gone ? let's all step in (Buffett comes to mind) and think what must be done, as painful as it may, to reverse this situation. It won't be another 1929... or will it ? God forbid... and God willing we shall overcome.
Good luck and Godspeed

Amen, brother, amen.

Bing, you hit it right on the head. I think this is exactly why companies are so eager to try to go private again. The demands of these Business Sumarai are just killing whats left of commerce in this country. I knew in the 1990s as a young person that something was seriously wrong when companies started eliminating such 'perks' as pictures on the walls, potted plants in the hallways, and regularly changing air filters on the HVAC. When asked why these amenities were being removed/discontinued, it was the same old refrain - to maximize corporate profits. And that was just taking care of the property. Guess what happened to the people? No longer do they have stable jobs, but today live under a shroud of fear perpetuated by an over-zealous HR department, eager to 'trim' headcount every time they can.

FYI: that was at the headquarters of a major telecommunications giant, located in central Texas.

Am I the only one to make the observation that during most of our nations major economic crisis's the captain of the ship has been decidedly republican in nature and economic policy? I'm opposed to over-regulation as much as the next capitalist but as they say, while the cat's away the mice will play, and unfortunately the toys this time were the American homeowners & citizens.

Hey, I work on Wall Street and agree with you!

Yo dude.

Well said! Still, I would feel a little better if we could get some of the bonus checks back from these charlatans!

If it looks like greed, smells like greed, well, you know the rest. They all had it coming.

As an MBA who could never understand the "profit at all cost" attitude... I'm also glad to see those MBA-holes get what they've been giving for so long.

Don't bother to mention that all of the capital that those same bankers raise helps create amazing growth for untold companies, resulting in hundreds of thousands of jobs being created. YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR. Your populist sentiment may be good pander for your readers, but even you aren't so obtuse to not realize that Wall Street is fundamental to keeping our economy churning.

I never want to see somebody lose their job, but if anybody deserved it the folks on Wall Street did. My biggest sorrow though is that the mindless droids are paying the biggest price while the architects of the failures have mostly flown away on golden parachutes when their firms fired them in the last 6-12 mos at the start of this whole mess. I wonder if the shareholders can sue to recoup the $30 million bonuses paid out during the bubble years? It's obvious that those "profits" were non-existent.

It is not fair to blame people in the Street alone:

Who are checking their retirement funds' rate of return 4 times a year? Who were getting those 3 - 4 % ARMS. The Street represents only the tip of an iceberg of greedy people like you and me - I bet more than 50% of the entire population.

Thank you Bing, I too think that Karma is in play on Wall Street. How tired I was to hear of another Fund Manager or Private Equity Manager getting a Billion dollar bonus on top of their multi-million dollar pay checks. 'hopefully they will learn a lesson that the montra of "Greed is Good" are not words to live by'

I find it interesting that the country, including the current Presidential Candidates, take an "us versus them" attitude when looking at Wall Street.

You sit with YOUR arrogance and say GOD FORGIVE me. These people on Wall Street are just as hard working as every other American. Don't hate them because they have had the opportunity to make a lot of money. That is what this country is about. You could have chosen to work on Wall Street too. You chose to write this Blog.

There are some greedy people, usually at the top, that ruin it for the many, but do not sit here and feel happy that there are hardworking people with families, and mortgages, that have just lost their livelyhoods. And do not sit and celebrate the collapse of American companies in a day when we are already falling behind the Euro and the Pound and and nations like China are aching to take over our place as a leading world economy.

Also, do not think that somehow you, sitting in your little cubicle somewhere are uneffected by the events that are going on that you don't understand. These are tragic events that are going to effect the global financial markets for a long time. Shame on you. This has nothing to do with God - but no - may you not be forgiven.

Completely agreed. And it's this type of thinking that's one of the biggest reasons employees have no loyalty to their companies anymore - and rightfully so. If the company treats them as a number, why shouldn't each of us look for the best opportunity we can, without considering the impact to our employers?

They already made their money... what do they care?

Amen brother! I feel no pain for the folks on the street.

I guess god is going to have to forgive me, too -- because I feel exactly the same way.

In our economy, these are the ups and downs that we must experience. Everything can not be a sure thing. The entire country counted on real estate and we were all wrong. The people that gambled on this are going to get out of this unscathed, while others were too late. They received the largest bonuses in the past couple years, hopefully they saved some of it.

Amen, brother.

completelyagree despite i am not as a part of the game and looking at the situation from central europe, let me say - good luck guys

badda, badda, Bing, well said

Stanley,
Thank you. This is exactly what needs to be said at this moment. I have seen the world you describe. I am an MBA, but declined to work on Wall Street, because in the final analysis, I like working for and with people in companies rather than help investors make money. Is there anything more boring than managing someone elses money?
Greed caught up with them all, and they all should be let drop down the black hole they are now creating. Now they can calculate the opportunity cost of doing something different for a change.

How true this is. One of the biggest problems in america is that only the rich inverstors mean something. Those who make them rich mean nothing.

Where was the intelligent system of checks and balances that was supposed to exist in these business organzations? After all , they were employing people with graduate degrees who must understand there are business cycles and companies must be prepared to quickly adjust for the bad times by not just releasing employees and seeking government bailouts.

Hello there.

Apologies for my insolence but I beg to differ.

Companies should be run efficiently and effectively in order to maximise the returns to the people who are investing in it= the shareholders.

The job of a good Investment Banker/ Consultant is to ensure this.

They should not be blamed for doing their job.

What is currently happening on Wall Street is most unfortunate.

It would be wrong to justify the misfortune of the Bankers by passing it off to Bad Karma.

They did their job. The economy is now doing its. Its a process of natural equilibrium propagated by freely operating market forces.

The big boys will not take it on the chin, they will be bailed out by the taxpayer. One more example of how the middle class are taxed to support the rich.

Right on!! I personally do not have a lot of sympathy for them. The were grown ups and got greedy. The greed got caught up with them.

Maybe, jusy maybe, the will learn their lesson for the future.

Sometimes finance like anything else needs a good bloodletting to get things back on track.

The philosofi you describe is the philosofi of americans in general.
Thats why most of the world wish you to hell the sooner the better.

It reminds me Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone". "How does it feel..."

Bing,
You hit it on the head with this one. The stupid, short-sighted decisions made by "business leaders" and the willingness to take on ever increasing risk because of the mentality of the quarter to quarter earnings perspecitve. Strategic decisions and actions don't have a three month horizon.

ABSOLUTELY. I have been saying this for years. It is pure greed - come home to roost. Unfortunately, the real culprits (the upper managers) will go home to their mansions, while the employees try to figure out where their next meal is coming from. Still, you are right on target. Unfortunately, I don't think we (as a society) will learn from this. It will happen again, perhaps in another form, but it will happen again.

Ahh, yes - the much vaunted MBA's.
I've always felt that degree really meant, "we've taught you institutionalized dishonesty and sleaze", not how to really run a business. Real life experience, working for small business, and living a lot more years mean much more!

WOW...gr8 feelings of people...who could'nt make money..like Wall Street Guys and now are happy at their downfall.....Those guys are also human and if they saw the oppurtunity to make money.....

Fundamentally, we are seeing the destructive results of the extreme valuing capital over labor. Our system devalues and commodotizes labor resources. The subprime lending problems can be explained by underpaying of wages, despite drastic increases in productivity. If we had considered to increase wages in tune with a very modest inflation rate, the entire financial markets would have been more stable, because we would have had fewer loan defaults and higher savings. That is, higher wages must not necessarily result in higher inflation.

After reading some of these comments I think many of you could use an MBA... and did somebody really say that its a good thing if once and awhile a banker jumps off a building? Whats wrong with people? Yes many were greedy, but you clearly don't understand Wall Street if you think it serves no purpose but to make people wealthy. Its the lifeblood of the economy, and allows companies to access capital so that they can continue to grow and provide clowns like you with jobs.

On a trip overseas a while back I met with a German Businessman who described to me his planned corporate strategy. As an American educated MBA I quickly pointed out to him that his strategy is going to depress his company's stock by a large margin.

He looked at me and with a wistful smile said: "We have been around for the past 50 years, and plan to be around 100 years from now. To hell with Wall Street."

Amen.

The biggest problem is that Wall Street has lost the trutst of an entire generation of international investors. It will probably pay the price in years to come by not being the primary player in the global financial market. This power could shift to places like London or Asia... Time will tell...

Every time this discussion is made and these problems are noted, I merely open a book to the following poem by Rudyard Kipling and remember:

http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_copybook.htm

It holds forth truths that are timely and omnipresent in all the history of man. When a bubble is being inflated, the inevitable is waiting in the wings.

I find it funny when people blame the rich for their past problems. These banks weren't the only greedy ones. What about that middle class family that wanted the big house that they really couldn't afford... you can't tell me they weren't greedy? All of America is greedy and I love it!

Bing,

I think you are completely off base here. The situation we are in today was not caused by greedy wall street types looting money, it was caused by common people like us who thought we could use our homes like a ATM machine and keep withdrawing money from it and live well beyond our means. There is no one to blame but ourselves for taking a 5/1 ARM loan when you know that you can't afford the monthly payment. Just because someone gives you a loan doesn't mean you should take it; especially when you know you won't be able to afford it.

first off - to the person from Sweeden, what the hell has your country done for the world lately? Be thankful for the US, we actually try to do the right thing. Getting back to the subject .. when you pay people that much money they will always take the short view and put the company, the country and ultimately the world at risk - and why did the banking regulators ever allow no down payment loans or no-credit check mortgages? This is not rocket science

I still wonder where were the regulators and what were they doing to stop the greed?

While the clerks and other support staff are forced to walk out with nothing or a few hundred dollars in unemployment compensation, the big guys who caused all this will walk out with golden parachutes worth millions. If they sell one of their second or third homes, they will get by just fine. That's the way it goes here in the U.S. when you have a government of people, by the rich, for the rich.

BING for PRESIDENT!

There was a time when a business was run by a business man. One who understood that success comes from producing a quality service or product at a fair price. this would increase market share and thus reward the investors in his company.

Now a business is run by accountants who cut costs as an easier way to reward the investors.
My dog could run a company by cutting costs by pissing on every other name in the HR file

Are they now too stupid or too lazy to increase market share?

Oh that's just so hard! We would all have to do some real work instead of baby-sitting our stock options.

What kind of crap are they teaching these days in those business schools?

A very wise man told me that to find out all you have in this world is to put your hand in your back pocket....All you got is your own a$$. It's time we Americans realize that the government and corporate America is going to do what's best for them so we do what's best for us.

www.molifeney.com

You have to love the comment from the Swede....Always some America bashing going on. I guess that's what you get when your #1 and live in the best country in the world.

When the small, hardworking blue collar worker lost his job due to some Wall Street suit's recommendation, the job didn't disappear. It went to some peasant in China or India who was subsequently able to buy shoes for his kids, send them to school, and all these other interesting and useful opportunities that civilization is supposed to provide. For some reason, though, Mr Bing seems to feel that providing opportunity to this Indian or Chinese person was a great evil.

Businesses fail. Some are sucessful for a while first. Sometimes a long time. A profit motive is not evil. Its okay. This is just a correction. I am neutral; I am not dancing on anyone's grave as I do not know all the facts and you don't either. On the other hand the silent hand of the market has shown its cards.

Unfortunately, the average tax payer on main street owns stock in one shape or another and is included in "investors". Therefore the greed and unethical behavior of the people at the top is also impacting the working man from an investment perspective. Nothing will change until the collective citizenry becomes motivated enough to figure out a way to change the system to eliminate corruption and greed. The failure of all these companies will be paid for by the tax payer regardless of what the Government says - from a financial perspective the US citizens are the Government and we will pay the bill in terms of higher cost/inflation, crumbling infrastructure, etc, etc. The CEO and his cronies on the Board do not care any more about this Country or its citizens than the corrupt politicians that we elect year after year. They can live anywhere else in the world with their millions and not worry about the future damage they have done to this Country.

Have you ever noticed that with some obvious exceptions business leaders are rarely praised for being intelligent. I guess only the average joe is smart. hmmmm How to get ahead in business - be dumb (I guess?)

You left out one thing. All the time that this crap was going on the executives were lining their pockets. They all crow about "stock holder equity" when what they really mean is this: "If I pull this off my bonus will go up and to hell with anything else".

How about a jail for these MBA's on the Wall Street?

I see a lot of people saying it's the company's responsibility blah blah blah free market blah blah blah.

Well sorry folks if you are under the illusion that a free market works without hurting millions in a depression like correction you are wrong. 1920's same thing. Greed and corruption without regulation led to the Great Depression. 2000's Greed and Corruption led to an internet stock crisis, housing market crisis, and now a credit/bank crisis. Greed and Corruption. People giving loans to people without checking them out. That's G and C. That's the cause of this. The role of a good government is to have checks that make sure a free market works with minimal greed and corruption impacts.

Any one else who tells you something else is trying to sell you on a fantasy of free market. Free Market economy needs the checks and balances of regulation from time to time to keep it honest. Those who try to scare you with big government are greedy idiots. :P

You see what will really happen is nothing.
All our writing or talking about this issue is futile. But it feels so good to get it of our chest.

The CEO’S will be paid and have been paid. All the brokers, analysts and other leeches have also been paid and all the other so called company advisers and consultants that are on wages and bonuses have also have been paid. For these people the current events are just a bump in the road, just congestion or a stuffy head. They will just simply brush it off and move onto the next job and they will be taken in with open arms. And why is this: BECAUSE there is no accountably for any one, any body any time.

If you think this is a massive crisis wait until around 2012 when massive amounts of money start to be withdrawn from retirement and pension funds. That’s when things will really start to hit the fan.

Bing your and idiot and a pawn to sell advertising. Why don't you actually do something of value opposed to writing about things you know nothing about.

I think Art (who posted a comment early on) was essentially correct. It's not so much an issue of maximizing shareholder value, but that management was left unchecked to cook the books and maximize their own income.

Bing,

I am a huge fan (I even buy your books with my own money). However, I must point out that if companies are going to accept investor capital to fund their business then they are then owned by and should be run for the sake of one group, the shareholder/owners. Yes, business "leaders" and their enablers (including the Fed) led shareholders to this point of disaster. But, thats the point, shareholders are supposed to be discerning and decide for themselves whether or not a firm's results are based on real value being delivered to their customers or on illusion. Employees likewise, are also allowed to vote with their feet. If they know their jobs and benefits are based on bad practices, they should leave and go work for a another firm.

agreed. I guess it just goes to show that you can't get something for nothing.

Having worked for 24 years on Wall street (as a tech support person) I have found a striking resemblance of behaviour of the Wall Steet crowd with that of a bunch of pigs on the farm. They are arrogant, greedy, agressive, posessive, noisy, self-promoting. and,yes,SMART. And just like the pigs on the farm they do not realize that at the end of the cycle of growth they all will go to the SLAUGHTERHOUSE. Meanwhile, they eat, drink, push each other away from he feeding troth, fornicate and defecate. A typical scene of NYC downtown.

So Princeton, Brown, Harvard, Stanford, MIT and the like produce this kind of government, business, and other assorted institutional leadership?

What frauds. What thieves. What fools.

As far as regulation goes, are we forgetting those same institutions have staffed all the top levels of our government?

It's time to face it, no amount of regulation can build walls high enough around criminals such as these; raised in a society that stresses you should do whatever you can get away with. That morality is relative. The type people who believe contributing to the community means telling the little people what to do and then have government send checks (but not out of their accounts rest assured) to prove their sincerety.

It used to people with such an immoral and totally self-centered worldview were rare. Now it's so pervasive it's not even recognized as a major character defect.

Good luck finding the right people you need to right all these burning ships.

And to think, everytime I so much get an interview I am subjected to the most insulting and dehumanizing 'vetting' (let's see: drug tests, financial checks, criminal background checks, insinuations during the interview process my resume is exagerated, purposely hostile interviewers) process because of the 'damage' a bad hire at my level (way, way, way, way down) can do to a company. It's so absurd it's laughable.

FU Ivy League. FU Ivory Tower Gurus. FU Experts. FU Madison Avenue. FU Hollywood. FU Government. FU Corporate America. FU UN. F-ing geniuses are you? Give me Don Quixote anyday.

We've seen the best you can do.

You're America's Worst Generation. A generation who thought themselves heroes because their parents were.

Well said; how about if the US Treasury initiates lawsuits against the officers of AIG, Freddy, Fanny, et al., and take everything but their underwear so they have to explain to their children why Daddy is such a loser and why they have to move from their 25,000 sq. ft. house in Newport Coast to a three bedroom apartment in Anaheim. Oh, and to h. Svensson of Sweden: philosofi? Sweden? Really?

If the Wall Street hotshots and masters of the universe want Uncle Sam to bail them out of their own greed, fine. Just one condition: All employees, executives and directors are now on US Military payscales and government rules, until Uncle Sam is paid back in full plus a big interest charge.

114. That has to be one of your record high numbers?!

I'm waiting for Clearwire to bankrupt next. They have all their eggs in one basket (WIMAX).

How about all those house flippers, all those who bought with no doc loans who would line up for days to get a new condo in a not yet built Vegas of Florida complex. All those people who sold 1 story ranches on Staten Island for $750K. All those years of everyone in MIDDLE AMERICA riding the house market like a $50 whore. And you want to say shame on Wall Street. EFF YOU. Perhaps it should all crash and all those millions of baby Boomers can get what THEY deserve.. after all everyone who ran this is mainly of one generation. As for Wall Street types, I am 34 for a 1 yr old daughter and laid off for a month. I don't make millions and neither do the vast majority of my friends on the street. You're all uninformed quizzling morons and YOU GOT US INTO THIS.

"Maybe all this misery is just payback"

Bravo! BRAVO!!!

What an outstanding piece, a piece that cogently & succinctly captured the thoughts and feelings of many scarred and scared corporate types who have lived and earned and survived despite the efforts of many of Wall Street's 'smartest guys in the room.

While we all have been muscling by on 1% -2% raises, annually diminished health & welfare benefits and dumped pensions, the folks over at Lehman, Bear, Merrill have been living the good life - at the Tax Payers expense.

My greetings to all of those sharp Wall Streeters about to be sacrificed on the altars of cost reduction, synergies and forced bankruptcy: Welcome to our world of your own making.

BTW - Eastman Kodak back when engineers ran the company, never layed off a single employee during the Great Depression, while still investing in new research and development. The company grew and prospered considerably inot the late 1980's. But what have the last 20 been like?

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