Nearly a fortnight ago, and after hearing his conflicted comments aired recently on CNBC regarding his presumed desire to reinstate the Glass Steagall Act along with the break-up of big banks, one can be incredibly confident that Judas has a warm seat in hell waiting for Mr. Sandy Weill.
It defies human comprehension how the primary architect in the deregulation of the banking industry in the late 90’s – that cumulated in the repeal of Glass Steagall in 1999 (with the help of a southerner named Bill Clinton) – would have a “come to Jesus moment”, wherein the consequences resulted in the near destruction of the banking industry in the United States; actually the whole entire world – with a few countries going bankrupt along the way, and a few more in imminent danger.
Case and point, when Mr. Weill left Citigroup in 2006, the price per share was $55. The price a few years later was about $3 to $4 bucks a share. With penny stocks at $1.00 a share, it wouldn’t have taken long for Mr. Weill to maintain the distinction as one of the worst CEO’s to ever don a pair of wingtips. On a more comically note, who would ever trust a bank that misspells its own name. It makes one think that Dan Quayle was on the Board of Directors.
Svengali or Latter Day Saint?
When a person of this stature proclaims that big banks should break up, it might seem to be as if Moses himself had parted the clouds and converted the last and least of the non-believers! Are as Joseph Saluzzi, equity trader and co-founder of Themis Trading stated, “Is Sandy Weill now considered a ‘born again banker’?”
Are we witnessing a Svengali or latter day saint? An erstwhile banker suddenly concerned about his own legacy? When an individual abruptly wants to be remembered as a “man amongst men”, the cynic in you wants to know the motivation.
Admittedly, what’s not to like about Mr. Weill’s enlightened conversion? As he told CNBC:
“What we should probably do is go split up investment banking from banking, have banks be deposit-takers, have banks make commercial loans and real estate loans, have banks do something that’s not going to risk the taxpayer dollars, that’s not too big to fail.”
What’s not to be forgotten, is that Mr. Weill’s bad judgment and complicity with other bad actors in the financial industry – even if no laws were broken (technically speaking), has the near moral equivalency of Bernie Madoffs’ misdeeds as a lone wolf Ponzi scheme reprobate. Both men had the audacity to have an extreme disdain for other people’s money.
It’s not very often one can smugly take credit for – as a handful of malefactors, and consequently benefactors in fact did, for the largest meltdown since the Holy Roman Empire. But instead of taking 800 years to wreak havoc on a loosely held confederacy of territories, municipalities, hamlets and duchies, which started when Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the Romans in 800 AD, the ascension of Otto1 in 962 AD as the first Holy Roman Emperor, and dissolved in 1806 when Napoleon defeated the Third Coalition at the Battle of Austerlitz – these Ivy League educated dolts managed to effectively clean house in a matter of 9 years.
When Monsters Spawn: Baby Weills
But wait, it gets better. Almost like the movie Alien, wherein alien baby monsters were spawned by the Baby Mama alien creature, Mr. Weill mentored Jaime Dimon of JP Morgan Chase at Travelers/Citigroup in the 80’s and 90’s. Baby Daddy himself recruited Mr. Dimon out of Harvard Business School. This dynamic duo essentially took over Citicorp. Although they eventually parted ways non-amicably in 1998, the rest is history in as far as the genetic transfusion.
Like the former telephone giant Bell Telephone, known as Ma Bell from the 1970’s before its FCC break up into smaller telephone companies, that were affectionally known as Baby Bells, we have Mr. Weill to thank in spawning the likes of Jamie Dimon and other maladjusted CEO’s. Mr. Weill is the ultimate father figure and hustler. He has given the gift that keeps on giving. The “toxic mortgage pus” has already spewed to a neighborhood near you. Or perhaps its already cocooned itself in your own foreclosure infested neighborhood.
It’s as if single handedly Mr. Weill gave the entire financial industry crabs. Metaphorically speaking, there wasn’t a bathhouse Mr. Weill didn’t know.
Just like a filth infested pregnant mother cock roach that dies shortly after giving birth to hundreds of baby cock roaches, Mr. Weill has successfully infested his venom into the innards of America. It’s the ultimate flesh eating bacteria of the ‘financial strain.’ (And this is before zombie Bath Salts hit the scene). And although some of us may have been woefully complicit hopeful jackasses that drank the Kool-Aid before signing those liar loans, it is of no comfort when the mother of all banksters states that the big banks should be split up.
The 1% “Rule Riggers”
And thus, a special breed of “no-holds-barred entitlement culture” was promulgated. They are the 1/10th of the 1% percent. Are as I like to call them, the “rule riggers” of the 1% percent, since not all 1% percenters are deceitful, thieving miscreants who wouldn’t know the meaning of empathy if they tripped over it.
Starting with the repeal of Glass Steagall in November 1999, and cumulating in September 2008 when the New York Stock Exchange nose dived 777 points on black Monday – if you were not a true believer at this point as an American, that a select few of the 1 percent had managed to sell snake oil to millions worldwide (some of whom knew it was snake oil by the way), then I‘ve got some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you.
If one wants to point out the bad guys, just go to the TIME magazine list of 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crises, combine that with 40 to 50 CEO’s of the largest banks, financiers and insurance companies in the Fortune 500, and sprinkle in a super large handful of lobby-whoring politicians (Dems and Reps alike). And for good measure, toss in those forever self-esteem starved credit rating nerd idiots who enjoy licking the boots of Wall Streeters – and voila, you have the perfect storm of idiocy that’s ready to be poured out of the Crock-Pot. Although hands-down the aforementioned are the splendid dumbasses with the most blood and green ink on their hands – most did not, and won’t be doing any jail time.
In terms of criminal charges, to whom does Wall Street owe a big high five? Unequivocally, probably their ace bitch on the corner, Security and Exchange Commissioner Mary Schapiro. And unless there’s something the American public is unaware of in terms of Mrs. Schapiro having a bounty on her head from some crazed lobbyist hunkered down on K Street, it’s inexplicably why the SEC has been and continues to be the doormat of Wall Street.
At one time, it was believed that Mrs. Schapiro, along with FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair and Assistant to the President of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren – all of whom graced the cover of TIME magazine in May 2010, would act as the antidote of Wall Street corruption (and Main Street self inflicted self-destruction). This cover, which metaphorically demonstrated to Wall Street that there was a new sheriff in town – and that it’s your mother, was the perfect book end to the February 2009 TIME magazine cover story for the 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crises.
The Final Act
In what could have been a true Jerry Maguire moment, Mr. Weill doesn’t quite throw himself on the sword when he goes on to say that he has no problems with his Wall Street brethren getting paid enormous amounts of cash – before and after the crash. Listening to Mr. Weil’s “come to Jesus moment” was much like an anxious and sweaty palmed huckster “jonesin” for just one more hustle. Or a hard-up drug addict looking to shoot up just one more time, before he goes on methadone. Ultimately, Mr. Weill pulls back, not fully prepared to disavow an industry that has made him fabulously wealthy – and his grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren fabulously wealthy.
During the CNBC interview, Mr. Weill fumbled about and gave incoherent responses to the reporters’ questions in connection with some of the errors of his banking brethren. The responses were half hearted non-responses that were similar to a dementia ridden infantile senior drifting in and out of consciousness.
As an alumni of TIME magazines’ 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crises, there are many reasons Mr. Weill may have chosen a path of moral redemption. Many of which we’ll likely never know and can only speculate. But as the reigning emeritus of Wall Street who suddenly has a moment of consciousness, it is painstakingly difficult to acutely ascertain the motivation of a man who is indirectly responsible for a substantial amount of financial carnage, worldwide.
D. Sidney Potter has worked in the real estate and mortgage industry since 1992 and is a licensed member of the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Association of Realtors. Mr. Potter has a BA in Political Science, 2 MBA’s and part of a doctorate degree from Pepperdine. He is the author of The Flip