The system is rotten. Will Congress clean up Wall Street? I doubt it; it never has before. Maybe Congress will censure them, but it would certainly be non-binding....America will be doomed to repeat this fraud over and over again until something is done to make them be honest!
Investment banking is the only career in America that rewards fraud....WELL!
By Larry McDonald
Is the subprime crisis the result of honest miscalculation or avarice? Were the key players well-intentioned individuals guilty of only poor judgment or were they opportunists who knew there was likely to be a mess left behind for the Federal Reserve and taxpayers to clean-up? I’m beginning to suspect the latter view may offer the better explanation, after learning of the huge “retirement” packages for Merrill Lynch’s CEO Stan O’Neal ($131 million U.S.) and Citigroup’s CEO Chuck Prince ($40 million U.S).
What incentive did senior executives at the big investment banks have to be prudent when they knew such retirement packages awaited them? There wasn’t much to lose from swinging for the fences. A home run would deliver immense wealth through bonuses, stock options, and the like, while a strikeout would still deliver immense wealth -- just of a lower order.
It’s hard to believe senior executives at the big U.S. investment banks weren’t aware of how foolhardy it was to rush into collateralized debt obligations (CDO). Even the Investing Ideas blog, far down the financial food chain (plankton level, I believe), saw it coming. The Sept. 26, 2006 post, ‘Daddy, look at the cute mortgage lenders,’ issued a warning and, for dramatic effect, equated CDO-enamored financial firms to the little girl who mistook baby skunks for kittens (as shown in a photo link).
There is a huge moral hazard built into the U.S. financial and corporate system when executives who screw up end up so well off. That O’Neal and Prince are departing with such riches only reinforces the perverse message to the rest of Corporate America that it’s OK to bet the farm with a mentality of "après moi le deluge." It extends the likelihood of more corporate blow-ups and financial panics (and even possibly something as calamitous as another Great Depression). http://seekingalpha.com/article/54239-ceos-in-subprime-said-apres-moi-le-deluge