For some, the bank bailouts were a wonderful success

Goldman Sach’s Lloyd Blankfein officially became a billionaire in July, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. JPMorgan on Thursday announced that CEO Jamie Dimon's 2015 total compensation was $27 million — a 35% raise from the year before. Dimon also became a billionaire in 2015.”

It seems not long ago that Wall Street was packaging up Collateralized Debt Obligations, faulty sub prime mortgages, and dealing them off to unsuspecting customers. Credit Default Swaps were flung about with outfits such as AIG, in which the viability of these packaged securities were “insured” against default.

Goldman Sachs was caught, not by authorities, but by the market. As the securities failed, some of their own design, Goldman was forced to make clever moves such as becoming a commercial bank, overnight. This move positioned themselves up for the coming flow of money and generous considerations.

Hank Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury and former Goldman CEO, went to work to defuse the crisis. Not only did he “put out the fire” with unaudited dispensing of massive amounts of federal money, he apparently “filled the swimming pool” as well. He turned a lemon for the big shots on Wall Street into not just lemonade, but limoncello.

Flash forward. Just reported,

 “Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein made $23 million in 2015 — down $1 million from the year before. Blankfein's compensation included $2 million in base salary and $6.3 million in cash bonus, according to a person familiar with the matter. That excludes a long-term incentive plan that will be reported later this year.

Last year, Blankfein made $24 million, excluding $7 million in long-term incentive compensation.

President and COO Gary Cohn, CFO Harvey Schwartz, and the Co-CEO of Goldman Sachs International, Michael Sherwood, each received $21 million for 2015, down from $22 million from the year before.

Goldman Sachs reported fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday that were a beat if you exclude a big one-time legal settlement. Full-year earnings per share were down 28.9% from the year before; excluding the legal settlement, they were up 9.4%.”

Federal Reserve record low interest rates, bailouts, and unaccountability seems good for some. The few fines imposed replaced what could have been jail time. Illiquidity and bankruptcy of the too big to fail was met with a governmental largess that was without restrictions on partner equity draw downs via bonuses and salaries. A remarkable transformation occurred from broke to rich, not by market but by fiat. If there are special talents here, I would hope someone would come forth and identify them. Otherwise, the conclusion readily at hand is that the oligarchic and the “star chamber” machinations in the cabal of Wall Street and Washington DC is a billionaire machine, for some.

The old saying that” if you lose a lot of money, the bank owns you. If you lose a tremendous amount of money, you own the bank.” And, to add a phrase, if you fail on such a scale that it approaches systemic dimensions, you own the Federal Reserve and the Treasury. And they did. Becoming a billionaire is a curious reward.

James Longstreet

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