AIG Executives Say They’ll Quit

 Politics  Comments Off on AIG Executives Say They’ll Quit
Dec 072009
 

The New York Times has a Reuters report that five AIG executives wrote letters on December 1 stating they may quit if their salary and bonuses are cut.The senior executives at American International Group <AIG.N> told the insurer last week they may quit if their compensation was cut significantly by the U.S. pay czar, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. Now it seems that two of them changed their minds over the weekend. I’m guessing they figured out that they just might have their bluff called.

The new CEO of AIG, Robert Benmosche smiles during an interview with Reuters in the garden of his Adriatic seafront villa in Dubrovnik, Croatia

You know, these are the same braniacs that got the company into that mess.Why they still have their jobs is beyond me. They screwed up to the tune of billions of dollars, and still feel entitled to eight figure salaries.

I think this would fall under the auspices of that grand old southern phrase, “Well bless their hearts.”

AIG Executives Say They'll Quit

 Business, Featured, Politics  Comments Off on AIG Executives Say They'll Quit
Dec 072009
 

The New York Times has a Reuters report that five AIG executives wrote letters on December 1 stating they may quit if their salary and bonuses are cut.The senior executives at American International Group <AIG.N> told the insurer last week they may quit if their compensation was cut significantly by the U.S. pay czar, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. Now it seems that two of them changed their minds over the weekend. I’m guessing they figured out that they just might have their bluff called.

The new CEO of AIG, Robert Benmosche smiles during an interview with Reuters in the garden of his Adriatic seafront villa in Dubrovnik, Croatia

You know, these are the same braniacs that got the company into that mess.Why they still have their jobs is beyond me. They screwed up to the tune of billions of dollars, and still feel entitled to eight figure salaries.

I think this would fall under the auspices of that grand old southern phrase, “Well bless their hearts.”

The Economic Crisis

 Congress, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on The Economic Crisis
Sep 262008
 

I know you can hardly wait for my take on the current economic crisis. I’ll be the first to admit, that like John McCain has said, I’m no expert on the economy. Certainly there are a lot of “financial products” out there I don’t have a clue about, but there are some things about the market and the politics around it I do understand.

Some are concerned there’s no real emergency. I can certainly see how one can come to that conclusion. The Bush administration has used this “emergency” concept once too often. As Bush himself famously said, “fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.” Some people believe this may be just a gimmick to get a huge chunk for one last parting gift for Dick Cheney’s buddies. This is not out of the question from this administration.

Others believe the government should do nothing, and let the free market take care of itself. This comes from some well respected economists, and I can see their point. I’ve written some on the idea of the “free markets” in this previous post. One economist I listened to this morning on NPR was pointing out that Warren Buffet (no dummy when it comes to economic decisions) had already seen an opportunity and seized on it, and that a buyer had come forward for Washington Mutual (WaMu) in fairly short order. In other words, where there are gaps, they will be filled by people looking to make a buck. And I find nothing wrong with that.

I am also opposed to overly-burdensome government regulation on business. However, the past eight years of constant deregulation has clearly shown us that there has to be a level of trust within the system. I’d like to think that all these big Wall Street firms and publicly traded companies are trustworthy, but we knew from previous experience they are not. Some level of trust and accountability must be enforced. There wasa time when a man’s word was his bond, and a handshake was all that was needed to “seal a deal.” Unfortunately, one can’t count on that today, so we have contracts and a whole contracts law industry.

Having said all of this, it does appear there may be a need to “grease the rails” some to keep the economy from taking a huge plunge, and to prevent the pool of credit from drying up. We’re seeing some of this happen right now. The question would be, how deep could it go, and how long would it last. If it’s a fairly short term occurrence, a few months, the country can weather that. There would be some pain, but we’d get by. The concern is that without some intervention. the economy would go on the skids, and while I agree with those who believe a free market can right itself, the question becomes how much and how long is the pain before it recovers.

I’ll give the people in Washington some benefit of the doubt, and support a bailout that helps mitigate the downturn. However, $700 Billion of taxpayer money, given over to a single, unelected individual with an explicit restriction against any oversight is completely unacceptable. Just like with deregulation, we’ve had nearly eight years of no oversight (and this includes you Democratic members of Congress also), and it has lead to a string of problems now all coming to fruition. So the plan, as proposed by the Bush Administration is a non-starter for me.  Continue reading »

The Free Marketeers and Cardinal Richelieu

 Business, Election, Featured, Places, Politics, Society  Comments Off on The Free Marketeers and Cardinal Richelieu
Sep 192008
 

Today, while running an errand, I passed a sight which gave me some pause. I’m not sure why I noticed, and I’m not sure why I am drawing the assumptions I’m drawing, but I’ll tell the story anyway. Some years back, to make ends meet, I worked a part time job for a lot of years. For several of those years, I sold shoes at a Florsheim shoe store right in the main corner of the largest mall in Greensboro, NC. To pass the time when we were slow, I would often pick out someone walking by, and just based on what I could see, I’d make up the person’s current life situation. If that person came in the store, and any sort of chat developed, I was often astounded by how accurate my story had been, and so, from that perspective, I tell another story. I have no clue how accurate it is, but it illustrates a point about the recent economic downturn.

We were driving up Dale Mabry Highway, the main north-south road here in Tampa. Walking north (going south would eventually run you into the water of the bay) was two men. One of them was maybe near my age in his late 40s or early 50s. The other person was a bit younger, probably in his late 20s. (I don’t think they were related.) They both had backpacks and were carrying more bags by hand. They had the look of people moving on to somewhere else taking along just what they could carry. I didn’t get the idea from their appearance they had been homeless, more like people who had been displaced.

I had only a passing look, but was able to see the younger man’s face best, as he was on the side closest to the street. But in just that fleeting moment, I saw a sense of profound sadness and resignation. He carried a bit of the dazed look one often sees on people walking out of disaster areas. The story I took from these two was that they were possibly construction workers who had just run out of work, and had no or very little money left. Maybe they’d heard from a friend that there was work to be had somewhere else…in another town…and they were headed there in hopes of finding work.

walking.jpgIn my mind’s eye I saw the old black and white photos of the people loading all they had on a truck or in a car, and heading out of the dust bowls. Taking with them this idea of going elsewhere with the hope of just finding a way to survive. I was overcome with an almost overwhelming sense of sadness for these two guys, and for our country as a whole.

A friend I know through his blog and our email exchanges has coincidentally written about people trying to make it in the face of today’s economic downturn. I have written myself in just the past couple of days about all the businesses I’ve noticed closed here in South Tampa. Today’s errand took us to the northern part of town, and there I noticed a number of closed restaurants and other business along this main road. The government is bailing out failing company after failing company. There is a report today on TBO.com which says that Florida’s unemployment rate hit 6.5% last month, the highest rate in 13 years. The Progress Report reports that, Homeless advocacy groups and city agencies across the country are “reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation.”     Continue reading »

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