Eye on Wall Street

From Papamoka’s Straight Talk (LINK), 21 January 2008:

Moments of Clarity and Clinton

While on a recent road trip Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy, and now is the time to talk about the economy and how we all got into this horrible mess. The near future is not as positive as some people would like to think and a clear path through it is needed. With the latest reports coming in from all of the world stock exchanges, the “Maybe Recession” is a worldwide concern when you are talking about the United States of America. World economics is the key to saving not only our own economy, but the world’s.

One of the key factors to the U.S. economy is the middle class and the sheer numbers of them with disposable income. The facts are simple, and the middle class in America has been downsized and locked out of the “Bush” economy from benefits to salary increases. In that same time period, the cost of living in America has gone through the roof. One large contributor to that lockout was the executive release of responsibility in corporate America. In the world of business it should be called a signing statement, similar to the thoughts of our current president and the Constitution - downsizing and outsourcing of entire manufacturing plants out of the country, not to be competitive but to ensure the yearly top executives bonuses are protected and, of course, adjusted for inflation.

In some circles it could be argued that NAFTA and every other acronym for free trade helped to boost the economy in America, but they never really stipulated if it was South America or north of the border of America? In reality, free trade literally meant a migration of American middle-class jobs out of America, and that is yet just one more source of the downfall of our economy. When our government supports the rights of other nations’ citizens for good jobs at good wages, you better look at your last days of employment because that is the first tax break for corporate America to send your job over the border. Key phrases for shutting a factory or manufacturing plant here in the States is “Stock Holder Value.” Largest benefactors to stock holder value are CEOs and top executives with stock options.

Senator Clinton in her race for the White House spoke about where she thinks we as a nation need to be, and it is hard to argue with her thoughts when you look at the numbers realistically. Over at the New York Times they have this interview with Senator Clinton:

Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said that if she became president, the federal government would take a more active role in the economy to address what she called the excesses of the market and of the Bush administration.

In one of her most extensive interviews about how she would approach the economy, Mrs. Clinton laid out a view of economic policy that differed in some ways from that of her husband, Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton campaigned on his centrist views, and as president, he championed deficit reduction and trade agreements.

Reflecting what her aides said were very different conditions today, Mrs. Clinton put her emphasis on issues like inequality and the role of institutions like government, rather than market forces, in addressing them.

She said that economic excesses — including executive-pay packages she characterized as often “offensive” and “wrong” and a tax code that had become “so far out of whack” in favoring the wealthy — were holding down middle-class living standards.

Interviewed between campaign appearances in Los Angeles on Thursday, she said those problems were also keeping the United States economy from growing as quickly as it could.

“If you go back and look at our history, we were most successful when we had that balance between an effective, vigorous government and a dynamic, appropriately regulated market,” Mrs. Clinton said. “And we have systematically diminished the role and the responsibility of our government, and we have watched our market become imbalanced.”

She added: “I want to get back to the appropriate balance of power between government and the market.” - New York Times

Senator Clinton is obviously correct in stating that the markets from housing to Wall Street’s power brokers are out of control and need government oversight more now than ever. If our nation is to survive the current recession then restraints and intervention need to come from our government. If not, then the Robber Barons of days long gone will run the economy and the nation into the ground and ride out the destruction on the billions earned prior. And you can bet your last Rockefeller shiny new dime that they will pull their investments out of the stock market long before it crashes and outsource them to safer shores.

Salaries of record for one year to think about from Too Much (LINK):

$118.9 million for Leslie Blodgett, CEO of Bare Escentuals, who cashed out over 5 million option shares in her cosmetics company for a $117.6 million personal profit.

$415.5 million for Occidental Petroleum CEO Ray Irani. To reach this total, the Times added to Irani's $52.1 million in pay, as calculated by Equilar, the $270.1 million Irani cleared from cashing out stock options and the $93.3 million he withdrew from his deferred stock plan. Irani still holds another $124 million in deferred pay.

$647 million for Apple CEO Steve Jobs

$127 million for UnitedHealth CEO William McGuire

$32.6 million for Todd Nelson, CEO of the Apollo Group, a profit-making collection of higher education institutions

$131 million for Robert Nardelli, the Home Depot CEO forced out in January

$97 million for Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis

$1.5 billion for James Simons, Renaissance Technologies

$39.1 million for Ford CEO Alan Mulally, a sum that includes an $18.5-million bonus for leaving Boeing to join Ford. Ford had six executives in the industry's top 15, despite record 2006 losses of $12.6 billion. – Too Much

Some people would say that each one of these people earned their pay and in some cases I might not argue with you. In most cases, though, it is a race to the top of the heap, and they never look back at all the folks they stepped on to get those annual salaries and mega stock options. That is not part of the horizon they are looking at when they cash out, sell out or move on to another corporate position to repeat the process all over again. Once there, they never forget the politics that kept them there, either, with donations that max out. Atilla the Hun would have been very comfortable in corporate America, but he would have owned it all.

Hillary Clinton is talking the talk, and I would not be surprised if she became president that she would look at corporate politics with an evil eye, but she will not hesitate to cash those campaign checks coming in till that day comes. She isn’t alone in the cashing of those checks, and that, my friends, scares me.

If you’re interested in seeing who is giving political donations to whom and how much, then I highly recommend NewsMeat.com. It’s a great search engine for political thoughts and for seeing who is maxing out to their favorite candidates.


1 comment:

airth10 said...

The Economy is the last refuge, at least it was for Bush. That's where he thought he shawn. But no more.

His management skills or lack of them, with his tax cuts, deficit spending, incompetence and the tenor of cronyism he set, has wrecked his chances for even that legacy, of the wise economic stewardship he thought was his.