Former Major League Baseball Union Rep Is Sickened By Wall Street Pay

Last month, Rochedale analyst Dick Bové sent out a note to clients that began with what he dubbed "some interesting stats." Said stats were salaries of the New York Yankees' top infielders ("not including promotional deals"!) versus those of JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, Wells Fargo's John Stumpf, Citigroup's Vikram Pandit, and Bank of America's Brian Moynihan. The baseball players' compensation totaled about $80 million, the CEOs' $65 million. Fair? Bové didn't think so, noting that while the talentless hacks in the Bronx have won but single World Series in the last 10 years, the banks run by the aforementioned CEOs "impact virtually every American household" (and if pressed to, could surely bring home at least a few Major League Baseball championships). "Clearly, society values the New York Yankees infield above that of the leaders of the banking industry even without a World Series ring,"  Bové concluded sarcastically, shouting "nailed it" at Mr. Giraffe. Obviously, Bové is of the mind that it's a crock how little these chief executives are paid considering all they do compared to noncontributing zeroes like Alex Rodriguez and Co. It's unclear if the former head of MLB's players' union caught Bové's riff or if not but last night he offered something of a rebuttal and, spoiler alert, he thinks Wall Street pay is bull shit. Appearing at the New York University School of Law on Tuesday night to discuss the 40th anniversary of the first baseball strike and the rise of the players' association, Marvin Miller, the 95-year-old former union head, spoke for 68 minutes and delivered a blistering criticism of corporate pay. He also said collusion by owners in the mid-1980s was worse than the Black Sox scandal in 1919 and claimed the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, may have been a member of the Klu Klux Klan. "Let's take chief executive officers of important corporations, or the stock exchange or Wall Street firms," he said. "The typical way that compensation is set is for the board of directors, most of whom if not all of whom have been appointed directly by the CEO, decide what the CEO's salary should be, or they have a committee, a compensation committee composed of board members. "The first thing about that is that here you have a direct conflict of interest, because sitting on a board are executives of other corporations, and what they are doing is adding ammunition to their own quest for higher salaries. And it's such an obvious conflict of interest that it's awful. Of course they're going to vote for higher salaries." He said the directors are at fault because "they don't pay for it. It's paid for by stockholders, who have had no voice on what the salaries and compensation and perks of the chief executive should be." He then compared the system to baseball, where the average salary on opening day this year was $3.4 million and the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez topped players at $30 million. "There always has been and is a rule that no contract of a player is valid unless it is signed by the franchise owner or somebody designated by the franchise owner in his place," Miller said. "In other words, no salary is put on paper and becomes valid until the man who is going to pay for it, the owner of the franchise, has signed the contract. A better check and balance you can't find anywhere." According to Miller, "the more democratic thing is to require the approval of a majority of the stockholders." Whose Pay Is More Deserved: CEOs or Ball Players? [Real Time Economics] Marvin Miller Blasts Corporate Pay [AP] Earlier: Dick “Fire A-Rod” Bové: Underpaid Bank CEOs Should Seek Yankees Tryout
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

Last month, Rochedale analyst Dick Bové sent out a note to clients that began with what he dubbed "some interesting stats." Said stats were salaries of the New York Yankees' top infielders ("not including promotional deals"!) versus those of JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon, Wells Fargo's John Stumpf, Citigroup's Vikram Pandit, and Bank of America's Brian Moynihan. The baseball players' compensation totaled about $80 million, the CEOs' $65 million. Fair? Bové didn't think so, noting that while the talentless hacks in the Bronx have won but single World Series in the last 10 years, the banks run by the aforementioned CEOs "impact virtually every American household" (and if pressed to, could surely bring home at least a few Major League Baseball championships).

"Clearly, society values the New York Yankees infield above that of the leaders of the banking industry even without a World Series ring," Bové concluded sarcastically, shouting "nailed it" at Mr. Giraffe. Obviously, Bové is of the mind that it's a crock how little these chief executives are paid considering all they do compared to noncontributing zeroes like Alex Rodriguez and Co. It's unclear if the former head of MLB's players' union caught Bové's riff or if not but last night he offered something of a rebuttal and, spoiler alert, he thinks Wall Street pay is bull shit.

Appearing at the New York University School of Law on Tuesday night to discuss the 40th anniversary of the first baseball strike and the rise of the players' association, Marvin Miller, the 95-year-old former union head, spoke for 68 minutes and delivered a blistering criticism of corporate pay. He also said collusion by owners in the mid-1980s was worse than the Black Sox scandal in 1919 and claimed the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, may have been a member of the Klu Klux Klan. "Let's take chief executive officers of important corporations, or the stock exchange or Wall Street firms," he said. "The typical way that compensation is set is for the board of directors, most of whom if not all of whom have been appointed directly by the CEO, decide what the CEO's salary should be, or they have a committee, a compensation committee composed of board members.

"The first thing about that is that here you have a direct conflict of interest, because sitting on a board are executives of other corporations, and what they are doing is adding ammunition to their own quest for higher salaries. And it's such an obvious conflict of interest that it's awful. Of course they're going to vote for higher salaries." He said the directors are at fault because "they don't pay for it. It's paid for by stockholders, who have had no voice on what the salaries and compensation and perks of the chief executive should be." He then compared the system to baseball, where the average salary on opening day this year was $3.4 million and the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez topped players at $30 million. "There always has been and is a rule that no contract of a player is valid unless it is signed by the franchise owner or somebody designated by the franchise owner in his place," Miller said. "In other words, no salary is put on paper and becomes valid until the man who is going to pay for it, the owner of the franchise, has signed the contract. A better check and balance you can't find anywhere."

According to Miller, "the more democratic thing is to require the approval of a majority of the stockholders."

Whose Pay Is More Deserved: CEOs or Ball Players? [Real Time Economics]
Marvin Miller Blasts Corporate Pay [AP]
Earlier: Dick “Fire A-Rod” Bové: Underpaid Bank CEOs Should Seek Yankees Tryout

Related

Vikram Pandit Is Committed To Getting Paid

If you didn't know Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit, you might think he enjoyed not being compensated for the work he does at Citigroup because for quite some time, he wasn't. And although the "I will only get paid $1/year until Citi turns a profit" exercise was fun for a while, he was pretty happy when the old jalopy started making money again, in part because it meant he could receive a paycheck. Then last April, his shareholders rejected the bank's executive pay plan, claiming the Big C "lets Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit collect millions of dollars in rewards too easily." And while it's possible that Citi shareholders are just a bunch of pricks who chose to overlook the fact that Uncle Vikula didn't collect squat for several years and once had an entire article written about the fact that lieutenants attributed a "new bounce in his step" to him daydreaming "the day when he is going to earn more than a $1 a year,” maybe they just assume that he doesn't care about getting paid either way? Anyway, here's Vickles, reminding anyone who forgot about the sacrifices he made and setting the record straight: “The board has this process with them, they’re going through it, and they are committed, as I am, to making sure that they resolve this,” Pandit said. “I want to get paid what the board thinks is right for me, for the job that I’ve done and for the incentives that they think I ought to have.” Pandit told lawmakers in 2009 that he would take a $1 annual salary until he restored the bank to profitability. Citigroup made a $21.7 billion profit for 2011 and 2010 combined, compared with a $29.3 billion loss for the two preceding years. “When the company was losing money, I stepped up and said I’ll take a dollar a year and I did, exactly for that reason, exactly the right thing to do,” Pandit said. For those having trouble separating the nice guy/don't want to offend anyone statement from what he's actually trying to say, a rough translation of the above would be: get me paid, bitch! Citigroup Will Resolve CEO Pay By End Of Year, Pandit Says [Bloomberg]

Bookie Confessional, Early Baseball Edition

Mike is my best baseball client. He bets three or four grand a night, spread out over the whole card. He can't possibly win over time. Sadly, such golden geese occasionally shit on the lawn. That's what Mike did Friday, when he called and asked me to give him another bookie's number. Nobody in particular—just anybody's. He wanted a second place to bet. Basically he was sitting at his regular table and asking the Maitre d' where ELSE he should go to dinner. I told him to call me back Saturday. Well, I fumed awhile, then it came to me. Mike had rarely talked to Faithful Assistant. I summoned Faithful Assistant and told him his dreams were about to come true: he was opening his own shop, with exactly one disposable cell phone, and exactly one very good customer. Turns out that wasn't Faithful Assistant's dream. His dream involves some newly single woman with expensive tastes: the weasel told me that if he was going to play this charade it was going to cost me a full 15% of Mike's losses on both phone numbers. I was outraged and we started negotiating and by the time we were done 15% had become 20%. After making a mental note never to negotiate with Faithful Assistant again, I picked up the phone to hire the new book's collection agent. Melody, a good customer's wife, asked me for a job a couple months back. I offered and she accepted this part-time gig as an audition. Mike had his new place to play, Faithful Assistant was angling for a raise to 30%, and I set up a Monday meeting with Melody to tell her how all this would go down. Melody was a quick study. Faithful Assistant was her boss-and-contact and she was supposed to pass by Mike's office every Tuesday afternoon to pay or collect. She wanted to know what to do if Mike didn't have the money. She was disappointed to learn she should do nothing, just call us. I don't think she wanted to break his legs, but I think she wanted to give him a serious telling off, preferably in front of people. Too bad—that's not the way it works. It's a non-issue anyway: Mike pays. Turns out the 20% I'm paying Faithful Assistant is money well spent: he quickly put together that Mike is betting the same teams with both our places. That might be the stupidest piece of betting I've ever laid my eyes on. He calls one number, bets the Yanks, then calls the second number and bets the Yanks again. His second price is almost always worse—how much worse, well, it depends on how greedy we feel. There is no logic to this—he ought to put his whole bet in at the first place he calls, or better yet call both joints for prices and put the bet in at the shop with the better price. (Faithful Assistant is routinely varying prices on the Mike Phone by a penny or two anyway.) The only way Mike's current plan would make sense is if Mike was putting in maximum sized bets and needed to get down two max bets whatever the cost – but that's not happening: Mike's just putting down a few hundred at each place. Aspiring MBA-er Faithful Assistant says that Mike is trying to spread out his “credit risk," so that if one shop goes bust owing him money, he still has the other. Our shenanigans aside, that helps Mike little: If you think your bookie can't pay, don't spread out your risk—just stop calling him and find someone else you're actually comfortable with. It's a bookie joint, not a bank. So we were a little surprised about this but the final shock was Melody's. Melody showed up on Tuesday at Mike's office to pick up $600. She won't have to bother going downtown anymore: She knows “Mike” well: their kids are best friends since they've been neighbors for nine years.

What Hank And Hal Steinbrenner Need To Ask Themselves Right About Is, Do We Want $3 Billion Deposited In Our Bank Account In A Friendly Manner Or Do We Want It Violently Shoved Down Our Throats?

Are the Yankees for sale? "Baseball and financial sources" say yes. People with the last name Steinbrenner say no. Perhaps the latter, though, just needs to meet the right buyer? A buyer who's got money to spend? A buyer who wants a Major League Baseball team so badly he can taste it? Who has so far bid on not one, not two, but three organizations in the last year? A buyer who  can do this the easy way or the hard way? He's going to get his hands on a team one way or another and the sooner people realize that the better. So everyone is preparped, when the Big Guy is running the show, the first order of business will be: a) Shitcan A-Rod b) Reassign A-Rod to clean SAC's offices c) Rehire Ping Jiang to discipline underperforming players d) Gather all Yankee employees and unleash four hour-long string of obscenities about garbage performance e) all of the above

How Can Wall Street Feel Alive Again?

As some of you may recall, there was a time not too long ago when you could work on Wall Street and be compensated in a way that made you feel special. Appreciated. Loved. Eight, nine, ten-figures of love. Now, obviously, not so much. But that is not what's eating the industry's most fragile spirits of late. They are fine taking pay cuts. They could care less about the money. What they're not fine with is having the rush, the intensity, the adrenaline-pumping fear that comes with, say, putting on a trade in which maybe the firm will make $1 billion or maybe it'll lose $10 billion, WHO KNOWS, IT'S ALL RELATIVE, I CAN'T FEEL MY LEGS, THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SO EXCITING taken away from them. Take Sean George. He used to spend his days destroying company property and now, thanks to financial regulation, has had to get his kicks elsewhere. Sean George kneeled in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. He wasn’t praying. A gash below his right brow bled into his eye and down his nose before a knee to his groin sent him to the floor. George, 39, head of credit-derivatives trading at Jefferies, was making his Muay Thai debut at the church June 22 in a sport that allows kicking, elbowing and kneeing. His eye was swelling shut by the time he lost in a split decision. It was the happiest he’s been all year, he said. “Right now at work I’m making less risk decisions -- and I enjoy taking risks,” George, who headed investment-grade credit-default-swap trading at Deutsche Bank AG before he joined Jefferies last year, said in an interview. “If you’re in it for the game and the fight, the game’s over and the fight’s over.” Risk is what drew George and the colleagues he respects to Wall Street, he said. He could bring in millions of dollars in a single month at his peak, and trading was so intense that during one credit-default-swap deal he smashed a phone against his desk, sending part of it three rows away, “one of the records for the best break,” he said. Ethan Garber's lost that tingly feeling in his plums. “There’s no sexiness, there’s no fun, there’s no intellectual intrigue, either,” said Ethan Garber, who ran proprietary credit-arbitrage portfolios for Credit Suisse Group AG and Bear Stearns Cos. “A lot of my friends who actually lingered for the last four years are all now getting fired anyway,” said Garber, 45, currently CEO of IdleAir, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based firm that provides electricity at truck stops. “The air is taken out.” Robert McTamaney has been reduced to doing his best impression of a whiskey-swilling, cigar-chomping newspaper man from the 1940's, who we assume addressed Bloomberg's Max Abelson as "toots" here. “The socks are higher, the skirts are longer,” said McTamaney, who helped run Goldman Sachs’s equities- trading business in Asia. “It’s like styles: They change, and you’ve got to change with it or be left behind.” Former King Street Capital and Bank of America trader Sam Polk isn't gonna lie, the worst part of Wall Street 2.0 is not being able to feel like a god by dropping $10,000 for bottle service on Wednesday nights, and sometimes even Thursdays. “You could be a 20-something trader three years out of school, able to go to any restaurant or club or ballgame on any night that you wanted, and it was totally paid for,” he said. “It was a tremendous feeling of power.” Michael Meyer is dying a slow, painful death. “The light at the end of the tunnel is dim,” said Meyer, now co-head of sales and trading at New York investment bank Seaport Group. Clearly, it's not pretty. But here at Dealbreaker we're about offering solutions, not whining about problems. How can these guys and girls replicate the feelings they once got by taking on risk on the job, if, unlike Sean George, getting kicked in the balls is not their thing? Drinking the carton of milk in the break room that's been sitting out for two days, telling the boss's wife it looks like she's gained a couple pounds, having unprotected sex with a junkie, shouting "You go girl!" at yourself in spin class after being kindly told to "Shut the fuck up" or else, and leaving dirty dishes in the sink all seem like good jumping off points but we can do better. These people need our help. Bloodied Trader Pines For Risk As Wall Street Retreats [Bloomberg]