silver linings

Previously his day job afforded him little time to do much more than show up but now? He can head up the planning, decorating, food/beverage, and guest list committees. Read more »

  • 24 Jan 2013 at 6:38 PM

Bonus Watch ’13: Morgan Stanley CEOs

The bad news: James Gorman’s pay fell 30 percent this year. The good news: he’s now in a position to show employees how to take these setbacks like a man, rather than grumbling like someone who puts their compensation in a one-year context to define their overall level of happiness. Read more »

Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Credit Suisse made some of the year’s biggest cuts in compensation for investment bankers, averaging as much as 30 percent, as Wall Street firms grappled with lower revenue.  Morgan Stanley, owner of the world’s largest brokerage, will also cap cash awards and defer more payouts, people with knowledge of the plans have said, while Zurich-based Credit Suisse, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, plans to give a portion of senior employees’ bonuses in bonds backed by derivatives. New York-based Citigroup may cut some bonuses in the securities and banking unit as much as 70 percent…Recipients may find they do better with shares instead of cash, according to Paul Sorbera, president of Wall Street executive search firm Alliance Consulting. “If things turn around, it may really turn out to be a windfall for them,” said Sorbera, whose firm is based in New York. “Some of these stocks are off 80 percent.” The S&P Financials Index advanced 8.6 percent this year as of last week’s close, and Bank of America Corp., ranked second by assets in the U.S., was leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average with a 31 percent advance. [Bloomberg]

As you may have heard, when the housing market collapsed, California was hit pretty, pretty, pretty bad. Particularly screwed was the town of Merced, which is third only to Las Vegas and Vallejo, CA in “metropolitan-area foreclosures,” where “builders were [once] coming into the area by the bulkload” and are now desperate to put warm bodies that can pay something, anything in the hundreds of empty houses. It’s obviously a very depressing situation, unless you happen to be a student attending school at the University of California-Merced, in which case, ka-motherfucking-ching. According to the Times, UC-M undergrads, whose school enrolls 5,200 but only has enough on-campus housing for 1,600, are moving into the nearby McMansions en-masse, creating a win-win for all.

The finances of subdivision life are compelling: the university estimates yearly on-campus room and board at $13,720 a year, compared with roughly $7,000 off-campus. Sprawl rats sharing a McMansion — with each getting a bedroom and often a private bath — pay $200 to $350 a month each, depending on the amenities…students willing to share houses have been “a blessing,” said Ellie Wooten, a former mayor of Merced and a real estate broker. Five students paying $200 a month each trump families who cannot afford more than $800 a month.

And for less than $100 extra a month, you can score yourself an even sweeter set up, new friends and the opportunity to have a major news outlet take gratuitous* pictures of you in the bath** where it appears as though you’re about to be electrocuted.

Heather Alarab, a junior at the University of California, Merced, and Jill Foster, a freshman, know that their sudden popularity has little to do with their sparkling personalities, intelligence or athletic prowess. “Hey, what are you doing?” throngs of friends perpetually text. “Hot tub today?”…Gurbir Dhillon, a senior majoring in molecular cell biology, pays $70 more than his four housemates each month for the privilege of having what they enviously call “the penthouse suite” — a princely boudoir with a whirlpool tub worthy of Caesars Palace and a huge walk-in closet, which Mr. Dhillon has filled with baseball caps and T-shirts…Jaron Brandon, a sophomore and a senator in the student government, does his homework in the Jacuzzi in his six-bedroom house, on a waterproof countertop that he rigged over the tub.

There are, of course, a few minor downsides to McMansion life, like the hobos (“Lance Eber, the crime analyst for the Merced Police Department, said vacant houses were frequent targets of theft, most recently of copper wiring. They also attract squatters, who sometimes encamp beneath covered patios, he said”), vying for parking spots (“one parks on the street, two park in the garage and two in the driveway. Whoever is getting up for an 8 a.m. class parks last”), yard work (“after an unsuccessful attempt at tending the yard with a hand mower, they now pay $50 a month to a gardener”), and the neighbors, who are having a hard time swallowing the fact that they’re living alongside kids when they were banking on stay-at-home moms of loose morals. Read more »

Mr. Kokonas added that during recent visits to Babbo and Del Posto, he noticed many customers were from out of town, as opposed to regulars from Wall Street. “He could probably p— off every bank in the world and still be fine,” Mr. Kokonas said. “Maybe Goldman will cancel their Christmas party at Del Posto, but that’s about it.” Goldman and other Wall Street banks declined to comment. But some bankers say Mr. Batali’s comments may have an upside. Said one Goldman banker: “If fewer bankers go to Babbo, maybe I can finally get a reservation.” [WSJ]

The bad news is that bank bonuses this year are estimated to drop 20% to 30% from 2010, and quite a bit more if you’re a bond trader. The good news is that 2012 should see some cash freed up, on account of all the people who will have been fired by then. Read more »

  • 18 May 2011 at 12:34 PM

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Was A Big Fan Of This- ;)

If you’ve been keeping up with the Dominque Strauss-Kahn story, you may recently have hit your disgust overload (and if you haven’t, take a gander at Ben Stein’s analysis). The IMF chief, currently bunking at Riker’s and said to be on suicide watch, was been accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid over the weekend; while DSK is of course innocent until proven guilty, the fact that many women have come out of the woodwork to speak not very highly of his character, and, more so, that his defense quickly changed from having lunch with his daughter and not being in the hotel at the time of the allegations to being there but the encounter being “consensual” does not look good. And if, as some conspiracy theorists believe, DSK did not do anything wrong but was set up, that would be pretty vile, too. This morning, however, one thing did emerge that could prove to be a small but bright light in an otherwise very dark story. Naturally, we speak of the case against emoticons. Read more »

A New York lawyer who said he paid his ex-wife $2.7 million of the purported value of his account with Bernard Madoff can sue her to revise their 2006 agreement because of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, an appeals court ruled. [Bloomberg]