John Thain = Bernie Madoff?

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Jan 23, 2009 1:24 pm

Can someone tell me why John Thain is not in the same league as Madoff?



WTF is this guy?  The reverse Robin Hood?   Steal from the poor
(taxpayers) and give to the rich?  (Bonuses to idiotic IBankers). 



I am not affected by Madoff....but my taxes are bring stolen by Thain (TARP) to give unjustified bonuses to ML execs. 



Merrill Lynch took the unusual
step of accelerating bonus payments by a month last year, doling out
billions of dollars to employees just three days before the closing of
its sale to Bank of America.

The timing is notable because the
money was paid as Merrill’s losses were mounting and Ken Lewis, BofA’s
chief executive, was seeking additional funds from the government’s
troubled asset recovery programme to help close the deal.

Merrill
and BofA shareholders voted to approve the takeover on December 5.
Three days later, Merrill’s compensation committee approved the
bonuses, which were paid on December 29. In past years, Merrill had
paid bonuses later – usually late January or early February, according
to company officials.

Within days of the compensation committee
meeting, BofA officials said they became aware that Merrill’s
fourth-quarter losses would be greater than expected and began talks
with the US Treasury on securing additional Tarp money.

Last
week, BofA said it would be receiving $20bn in Tarp money, in addition
to the $25bn that had been earmarked for it and Merrill last year. It
was then revealed that Merrill had suffered a $21.5bn operating loss in
the fourth quarter.

Despite the magnitude of the losses, Merrill
had set aside $15bn for 2008 compensation, a sum that was only 6 per
cent lower than the total in 2007, when the investment bank’s losses
were smaller.

The bulk of $15bn in compensation was paid out as
salary and benefits throughout the course of the year. A person
familiar with the matter estimated that about $3bn to $4bn was paid out
in bonuses in December.

They'll be hauling him in front of Congress any week to 'splain his actions and give him the proverbial tongue lashing.  Another icon of American business exposed as a crook.


Jan 23, 2009 1:30 pm

At least the bonuses and the money he spent on his office are back in the economy, unlike what would happen if the banks had it. 

Jan 23, 2009 1:56 pm

I was surprised the $4 billion dollar swindle received such little coverage. I know expensive toilets and rugs are fun and all, but the guy knowingly defrauded BAC and the government. The lead should have bald-faced thievery, not expensive taste in toilets!

Jan 23, 2009 4:05 pm

Thain is the scapegoat.  Do you really think Thain "hid" these bonuses, didn't communicate to BOA, and then slipped out on vacation for the last couple weeks of the year?  Necessary due diligence was not done on the acquisitions of Countrywide and ML.  The office spending is just another way to destroy Thain's reputation.   The media is making it out like Thain spent taxpayer money to decorate his office, but this was done well before ML took any government money.  And I hardly believe Thain had time to pick out $20k fabrics and a $1400 garbage can! 

 
Needless to say, comparing Thain to Madoff is insane.  He made some poor decisions, but he's an MIT engineer and a Harvard MBA.  He did a better job than almost anyone else could have given the situation.  Stan O'Neil and Angelo Mozilo are the ones who should be sharing prison time with Madoff.
Jan 23, 2009 4:18 pm

The whole idea of these bailouts is crazy.  The instant those taxpayer billions land in bank coffers, what's the first (and probably only) thought of any of the officials overseeing it:  "How do I get it into my wallet?"

 
We've been played.
Jan 23, 2009 4:18 pm
Sellout21:
 
Needless to say, comparing Thain to Madoff is insane.  He made some poor decisions, but he's an MIT engineer and a Harvard MBA.  He did a better job than almost anyone else could have given the situation.  Stan O'Neil and Angelo Mozilo are the ones who should be sharing prison time with Madoff.



??? Your critical thinking ability is what is insane.  Are you related to Thain?

Jan 23, 2009 4:32 pm

Rugby:  You're right, those degrees don't mean anything when trying to run billion dollar companies.  Nor does his experience at Goldman or NYSE.  Everyone should just manage like UBS:  pay the most money for a bunch of brokers who are going to leave the firm when their contract runs up, perhaps sooner.  They'll even teach you how to avoid taxes by shifting money to offshore accounts. 

Jan 23, 2009 5:15 pm

This article in today's Times is a must-read...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/23/business/23norris.html

Jan 23, 2009 5:40 pm
Sellout21:

Thain is the scapegoat. 



Read this sadly hilarious list of John Thain's top ten moments at ML and tell us why he's a scapegoat again.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/01/john_thains_top_ten_greatest_moments.php

Jan 23, 2009 6:16 pm

I think the vast majority of you are all hypocrites.  Read 75+ pages of reasons on this forum why Wachovia/WFC/AGE should all be getting retention bonuses, and how there will be a "mass exodus" if bonuses are not paid.  Yet, Thain tries to pay these bonuses to keep some key management and he is crucified.  God forbid he goes on vacation to Vail over Christmas - what a disgrace!  And he actually tried to show some confidence in the newly merged company and bought his company stock at $5/share....what an awful man.  Go to a World Economic conference to build relationships and try to bring in business - he should be put in jail.

Jan 23, 2009 10:56 pm

George W. Bush graduated from Yale and has an MBA from Harvard, so what's your point?

Jan 23, 2009 11:15 pm
Sellout21:

I think the vast majority of you are all hypocrites.  Read 75+ pages of reasons on this forum why Wachovia/WFC/AGE should all be getting retention bonuses, and how there will be a "mass exodus" if bonuses are not paid.  Yet, Thain tries to pay these bonuses to keep some key management and he is crucified.  God forbid he goes on vacation to Vail over Christmas - what a disgrace!  And he actually tried to show some confidence in the newly merged company and bought his company stock at $5/share....what an awful man.  Go to a World Economic conference to build relationships and try to bring in business - he should be put in jail.



You have some good points...but seriously 1 mil plus on an office renovation is just over the top...you can say he wasn't personally involved in those decisions, but in these times he should have been involved enough to know you don't need to pay 80 grand for a friggin area rug.....

Jan 23, 2009 11:43 pm
Bush was a legacy, otherwise his 1206 SAT score wasn't getting him anywhere near the Ivy League. 
 
I can't defend the office furnishings, but the bottom line is BOA needed a fall guy and Thain was their man.  The media is having a lot of fun bashing him and unfortunately your average person is buying into this sensationalism.
Jan 23, 2009 11:48 pm
Sellout21:
Bush was a legacy, otherwise his 1206 SAT score wasn't getting him anywhere near the Ivy League. 
 
I can't defend the office furnishings, but the bottom line is BOA needed a fall guy and Thain was their man.  The media is having a lot of fun bashing him and unfortunately your average person is buying into this sensationalism.



What was your SAT score?  In what year?  Put up or shut up.

Jan 24, 2009 12:58 am
Ferris Bueller:
HymanRoth:
Sellout21:
Bush was a legacy, otherwise his 1206 SAT score wasn't getting him anywhere near the Ivy League. 

 

I can't defend the office furnishings, but the bottom line is BOA needed a fall guy and Thain was their man.  The media is having a lot of fun bashing him and unfortunately your average person is buying into this sensationalism.

What was your SAT score?  In what year?  Put up or shut up.





Whatever the score is for putting your name on the test is what he got.



Well said FB.

Jan 24, 2009 6:16 am

Does anyone really think Thain decorated his own office. THe firm does that for him. He had nothing to do with it. Its a smear campaign by BAC and the media.

 
Wait until Lewis gets canned, they will attack him as well, although I beleive this will go down as the worst merger in history after its finished. I think this will be two-three years down the road.
Jan 25, 2009 7:10 pm

The bonuses, just so we're all clear, are for the whole firm- not just the executives.


Jan 26, 2009 10:45 pm

Good rebuttal by Thain today.  I saw a really good quote somewhere today, "If they can can get you to ask the wrong questions, then they don't have to worry about the answers."  I seem to remember Ken Lewis saying when questioned about he MER deal when announced, "We are good at this!" 

Jan 27, 2009 8:43 am
kappa1997:

Does anyone really think Thain decorated his own office. THe firm does that for him. He had nothing to do with it. Its a smear campaign by BAC and the media.

 
Wait until Lewis gets canned, they will attack him as well, although I beleive this will go down as the worst merger in history after its finished. I think this will be two-three years down the road.



If he had nothing to do with it why did he state in an interview on CNBC that he would pay 100% for it.  He basically said it was bad judgment on his part.....Got his hand caught in the cookie jar and feels stupid I am sure.  I suppose you believe he is 100% clean on the bonuses and the losses....please....This is all a smear campaign...right.

Jan 27, 2009 12:42 pm
HymanRoth:
Sellout21:
Bush was a legacy, otherwise his 1206 SAT score wasn't getting him anywhere near the Ivy League. 
 
I can't defend the office furnishings, but the bottom line is BOA needed a fall guy and Thain was their man.  The media is having a lot of fun bashing him and unfortunately your average person is buying into this sensationalism.



What was your SAT score?  In what year?  Put up or shut up.

 
How is this relevant? Maybe it's higher than yours? So what? Do you have to always start crying every time someone criticizes Bush?