Abigail Field | Moral Bankruptcy, the Bankers Edition
Moral Bankruptcy, the Bankers Edition
We all know that when it comes to character, actions speak louder than words. So let’s call the moral bankruptcy showcased daily what it is.
Let’s start with the bankers.
To show you the moral bankruptcy displayed by people like Bryan Moynihan (Bank of America), Jamie Dimon (JPMorganChase), John Stumpf (Wells Fargo) and the rest as clearly as possible, I need to set the stage using a hypothetical top banking executive–Banker Bob.
Let’s be as sympathetic as possible to Banker Bob, and have him start his job with clean hands. Banker Bob came in as CEO from a different industry; he’s some kind of turnaround specialist. That already puts him on higher moral ground than the people running our bailed-out banks.
True, BofA’s Moynihan got the top job as of January 1, 2010. But Moynihan was promoted from within; he’d been with FleetBoston Financial, which was swallowed by BofA, since 1993. And since 2004 he’d held “senior leadership positions at Bank of America representing experience across virtually all business lines,” as the press release announcing Moynihan’s promotion pitched him.
Dimon’s an even more culpable insider; he’s been running JPMorgan Chase as President since 2004 and CEO since 2006. Dimon fully consolidated his control by becoming Chairman at the start of 2007. Over at Wells Fargo, Stumpf has 29 years of experience at the company, taking over as President in 2005 and CEO 2007, and Chairman in 2010.
Perhaps the closest big banker to Banker Bob in this regard is Citi’s Vikram Pandit, who came to Citi in 2007 and took over near the end of that year. That said, Pandit’s no newbie, having run Morgan Stanley’s investment banking division, followed by running his own hedge fund. And he took over at Citi before Citi finished wreaking all the havoc it did in the meltdown.
Unlike those guys, our Banker Bob is totally innocent the day he gets the top job; none of his company’s current ruin is his fault. And let’s be specific about the ruin the company is when Bob takes over.
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