Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wall Street Sociopaths

Kind of muggy here, didn't sleep all that great, and still have a bit of a chest cold. We probably need to get a standup AC unit for Stella's room, because she doesn't have a window-based AC and we have to close her doors so the cats don't bother her all night. As a result her room can get quite hot. Maybe I will do that today.


If you haven't checked it out yet I recommend this week's issue of "New York"" magazine. There are two great articles in it that I really enjoyed. One is "Obama Is From Mars, Wall Street Is From Venus," about how the President and Wall Street are totally at odds, and the other is "Joan Rivers Always Knew She Was Funny," about the renaissance this comedian has experienced in the past few years.

Personally I have always loved Joan Rivers. I remember watching her on TV as a kid and just thinking she was hysterical. I didn't understand when so many people seemed to hate her years later. And she will rip into anyone, which is a bit refreshing. If she's ever been on The Howard Stern show I should probably make it my business to find that episode because those two in the same room must have been epic.

As for the Obama piece, it's amazingly well written and reported. But the subject matter is so frustrating. The point of it is that Wall Street is crying because an extremely mild financial reform package is coming down the pike. Wall Street must know these reforms will do very little, but their feelings are hurt that they are being portrayed as "the bad guys" by the administration.

There is a reason for this, they ARE the bad guys. Risk control at Wall Street was just about zero, and they melted down our economy. Now a few moderate suggestions are being put forward to make our financial world just a touch less wild and they are shocked and hurt.

This is why the public hates these guys. They are greedy and totally deluded about the damage they do. We suffer the worst economic crisis since the '30s and virtually none of these clowns even lost their jobs. Or, as we saw last year, took a pay cut. Their opinion is that we had the chance to clip their wings and blew it, so now leave the alone. It's hard to understand how they could feel this way, unless they are sociopaths, which they are.

According to a definition I just found on the internet -- I am a reporter after all --this is the definition of a sociopath: "A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others and inability or unwillingness to conform to what are considered to be the norms of society."

Tell me this isn't Wall Street!

My favorite example of this behavior came on March 19, 2009 just days after the markets hit their lowest point in over a decade. Citigroup saw its share price fall from over $55 to under $1, during the meltdown. The only reason the company didn't implode completely was because it received almost $45 BILLION in taxpayer dollars to keep it afloat.

Although Citi was barely clinging to life the firm's CEO Vikram Pandit decided to spend $10 million to redecorate his offices!

This has always pissed me off for so many reasons. But the main one, if you can believe it, is this. I have to imagine that Pandit, as the CEO of a major American corporation, already had really nice offices. Just think about that. They were probably lovely, in fact, with the best furniture made of the best wood, the floors must have been either polished marble, or, again, wood. Everything about it was almost certainly already as good, and as pricey, as money could buy. But this wasn't good enough, and for the cost of $10 million taxpayer dollars Pandit decided they had to scrap it all and start again.

Why? For ego gratification? Because this is how a CEO asserts himself? To tell the taxpayer to get lost? I don't know, can never know, but to me this sounds like a sociopath. This sounds like someone with an inability of unwillingness to conform to what are "considered to be the norms of society."

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