9 Wall Street Execs Who Cashed in on the Boom—and the Bust
By Andy Kroll and Nomi Prins, Mother Jones
November 8, 2011
The following article first appeared in Mother Jones. For more great content from Mother Jones, sign up for their free email updates here.
After Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley announced hefty profits in the fall of 2009, the Obama administration's pay czar said that he'd cap pay at Citigroup, Bank of America, and five other bailed-out companies. The move was largely symbolic: It capped salaries for only 25 executives, kept big stock bonuses in place, and did nothing to address the culture of rewarding folks who sowed our economic destruction. Below, some of the players who made out like bandits during the bubble and the bailout.
Joseph Cassano, AIG Financial Products Executive, 1987-2008
CLAIM TO FAME: Mr. Credit-Default Swap. In 2008, his unit cost AIG $99 billion. (AIG then paid $1.5 billion in bonuses and awards.)
QUOTE: Before the crash: "It is hard for us...to even see a scenario within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing $1 in any of those transactions."
HIS BONUS, 2008: $34 million
HIS HAUL, 2000-2008: $280 million
AIG'S TARP: $69.8 billion
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $112 billion
Vikram Pandit, Citigroup CEO, 2007-present
CLAIM TO FAME: Ordered a $50 million private jet, announced huge layoffs, and jacked up credit card APRs—after getting bailed out
QUOTE: Told Congress last February, "My salary should be $1 per year with no bonus." Didn't mention that he took $1.6 million in stock options as Citi lost $18.7 billion in 2008.
HIS HAUL, 2008: $10.8 million
Robert Rubin, Citigroup Board of Directors, 1999-2009
CLAIM TO FAME: As Clinton's treasury secretary, he pushed to overturn regulations prohibiting finance-bank hybrids such as...Citigroup.
QUOTE: Wishes he could have reined in Citi but "I don't know what I could have done" as just a board member.
HIS HAUL, 1999-2009: $124 million
CITI'S TARP: $45 billion ($20 billion repaid)
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $328.7 billion
Ken Lewis, Bank of America CEO and President, 2001-2009
CLAIM TO FAME: Okayed $3.6 billion of Merrill Lynch bonuses when buying the troubled firm. Said he'd return $1 million in past earnings, but still gets a $53 million pension.
QUOTE: He's against regulating "the banks that caused this mess" because they'd been "held accountable by the toughest, most unforgiving master of all: the free market."
HIS HAUL, 2008: $10 million
HIS HAUL, 2001-2007: $145 million
B of A's TARP: $45 billion (repaid)
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $18.1 billion
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO and President, 2005-present
CLAIM TO FAME: Cutting comments ("That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!") and cutting perks ("You're a businessman. Pay for your own Wall Street Journal.")
QUOTE: Over lunch at the Four Seasons: "Corporations can waste a tremendous amount of money. It's destructive. It's wrong."
HIS HAUL, 2008: $19.7 million
HIS HAUL, 2005-2007: $95.7 million
JPMC'S TARP: $25 billion (repaid)
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $73.1 billion
Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO and Chairman, 2006-present
CLAIM TO FAME: Oversaw Goldman's risky bets on the housing bubble, then turned the investment firm into a bank so it could get TARP money
QUOTE: Says the financial industry looks "self-serving and greedy in hindsight" but that he's been "doing God's work."
HIS HAUL, 2008: $42.9 million
HIS HAUL, 2006-2007: $114.4 million
GOLDMAN'S TARP: $10 billion (repaid)
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $43.4 billion
John G. Stumpf, Wells Fargo CEO, 2007-2010 and Chairman, 2010-present
CLAIM TO FAME: Made a tidy $12.6 million in first six months on the job
QUOTE: Asked before Congress about his 2007 pay, he conceded that he'd gotten $67 million in stock—but "at the values that pertained in 2007, which wouldn't look familiar to you now."
HIS HAUL, 2008: $13.8 million
WELLS' TARP: $25 billion (repaid)
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $13.4 billion
John J. Mack, Morgan Stanley CEO, 2005-2009, and Chairman, 2005-present
CLAIM TO FAME: Earned the sobriquet Mack the Knife by slashing jobs. His battle cry: "There's blood in the water; let's go kill!"
QUOTE: Told Congress, "If you gave me no bonus in the best year, I would still be here," but later griped that smaller post-bust bonuses led to "an exodus of key people."
HIS HAUL, 2008: $1.2 million
HIS HAUL, 2005-2007: $77.7 million
MORGAN'S TARP: $10 billion (repaid)
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $25.9 billion
John Thain, Merrill Lynch CEO, 2007-2009
CLAIM TO FAME: Asked for a $10 million-plus bonus as Merrill lost $27.6 billion in 2008. Then redid his office for $1.2 million and approved bonuses all around. As the firm's hidden debts nearly scuttled its sale to B of A, he headed to Vail.
QUOTE: Bonuses were "the right thing to do for...the reward of the people who were performing."
HIS HAUL, 2007: $83.1 million
MERRILL'S TARP: $10 billion
ADDITIONAL BAILOUT: $6.8 billion
Andy Kroll, an associate editor at TomDispatch, is a reporter for Mother Jones magazine. He lives in Washington, D.C. To listen to him discuss the geometry of delusion in the Ponzi Era on the latest TomCast audio interview, click here, or download it as a podcast by clicking here.
Nomi Prins is a senior fellow at the public policy center Demos and author of It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street.
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