Goldman Sachs emerged from the financial crisis as the whipping boy of Wall Street. But on Monday evening, the firm’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, was feted like a king. Or perhaps like a rabbi. “Lloyd, I’d like to welcome you to your second bar mitzvah,” David K. Wassong, the co-head of private equity at Soros Fund Management, said at the annual Wall Street Dinner sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York, a charitable organization focused on Jewish philanthropy. “The only difference is that tonight the money goes to UJA.” […] For Mr. Blankfein and Gary D. Cohn, the No. 2 at Goldman, the evening reflected the firm’s prominent position on Wall Street and the public relations recovery it has undertaken since the crisis. One financial analyst, Michael Mayo, approached Mr. Cohn after the event and jokingly suggested that the folks at Goldman should send a Hanukkah present to Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, a bank that has recently fallen from favor in Washington after a number of run-ins with regulators. Mr. Cohn smiled at the suggestion. “I have a joke about that,” he said. But with a reporter present, he declined to tell it. [Dealbook]
As those of you who’ve been with Citigroup since at least 2007 know, analyst Mike Mayo has never really had any very nice things to say about the bank. If you haven’t committed all of his comments and research reports to memory, or had them printed and stored for posterity in leather-bound books, a brief history of Mayo’s relationship with the institution include:
Sure, Mayo was pretty pleased when the board threw his arch-nemesis, Vikram Pandit, out in the middle of the night, and even said he was going to give the bank a chance to prove itself to him under the new leadership of CEO Mike Corbat. But nobody actually thought he’d start having good thing to say about the place, which is why the Mayo Jar is as shocked as you to be offering this: Read more »
We talked last week about how shareholders are really the last people you’d want running a bank, if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like banks. Conveniently Jesse Eisinger is that sort of person, and he’s pissed at shareholders for how they’re running banks:
Shareholders can’t be counted on.
That’s the message from the dispiriting shareholder vote on whether to leave Jamie Dimon as both the chief executive and the chairman of JPMorgan Chase, or to split the roles. Even more shareholders backed him in his dual role this year than did last year.
For some time, reformers have hoped that shareholders might ride to the rescue to solve the problem of Bank Gigantism, otherwise known as Too Big to Fail.
Big-bank critics, like the freethinking analyst Mike Mayo, analysts at Wells Fargo, and Sheila Bair, the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — and others, including me — have raised the possibility that shareholders might revolt over banks’ depressed stock valuations and seek breakups. Broken-up banks would be smaller and safer.
No, it’s not going to happen. Shareholders are part of the problem, not the solution.
The problem in this telling is basically the limited liability corporation, which gives shareholders an option on the corporation’s assets; option pricing theory, which informs shareholders that volatility – of earnings, of “high-risk, high-return bets” where shareholders “capture the unlimited upside and their losses are capped” – increases the value of their option; and modern corporate governance, which informs bankers that they work for the shareholders and therefore should be maximizing the value of that option. With the bets and so forth. Read more »
Mike Mayo: I think what I hear UBS saying in their presentation is, if I’m an affluent customer, I’ll feel a lot better going to UBS if they have a 13 percent capital ratio than another big bank with a 10 percent ratio, do you agree with that or disagree? Jamie Dimon: So you would go to UBS and not JPMorgan? Mike Mayo: I didn’t say that, that’s their argument. Jamie Dimon: That’s why I’m richer than you. [BloombergTV]
Back in October when Mike Corbat was dragged from bed in the middle of the night to take over the top job at Citigroup after Vikram Pandit’s ouster, he did a hastily assembled damage-control conference call while still wearing his footie pajamas. On this call CLSA analyst Mike Mayo surprised Corbat by asking him a softball interview question, namely: tell me how you want your tenure as CEO to be measured in five years. Corbat’s response – and here I’m quoting from memory – was “Wait, I’m the CEO? Crap. Let me get back to you on that.”
Mike Mayo – CLSA
And then for Mike, I asked this question when you first got the CEO job. If in five years from now you were to look back at your performance, what would you want to see to show that you were successful?
Mike Corbat – CEO
I think probably going back to your first line of questioning, we’ve got to get to a point where we stop destroying our shareholders’ capital. I would say that would certainly be at the top of the list, that we run a smart and efficient business that’s good at its allocation of its resources around its customer and client segments, that it’s continued to have the ability to lead in a company those clients around the world, that it served the social purpose. There’s several things in there.
Because he’s had some previous success putting bankers on deadlines for complying with his demands and because he has had it up to here with financial regulators and the companies they supervise, both of which have been dragging their heels since Dodd-Frank was passed, CLSA analyst Mike Mayo appeared on CNBC today to issue a message: The time for thumb twiddling is over. Move your asses, NOW, or he’ll move them for you. Read more »
Long-time Citi critic Mike Mayo is jumping on the Citi bandwagon. The CLSA analyst upgraded Citi to outperform from underperform this morning saying the ousting of Vikram Pandit “seems to reflect a more proactive board and can improve poor governance.” Pandit resigned abruptly and has now been replaced by Michael Corbat. “We are taking Citigroup stock for a test drive,” Mayo says. Mayo says he expects a new three-year plan from Citigroup by March and places his bet that Chairman Michael O’Neill would have a role in shaping that plan and restructuring the bank based on his prior successes. [Deal Journal, related]