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February 4, 2009

President Obama Plans Salary Limits For Bailout Recipients

Obama Commerce Secretary  Most Divinity Schools/Seminaries do not accept Pell Grants (financial aid from the federal government available to students) because they do not want the government to tell them how to administrate their schools.  The thinking is, if you don’t want government interference in your business, then manage your business well so you don’t have to beg the government for money.

Like the rest of us, President Obama has been watching the way that  banks who received ‘exceptional assistance’ have been conducting business as usual — as if they they’re in the black with a trillion dollar profit.  There has been no apparent curbing of spending even though they borrowed billions from us the United States taxpayers.  Even while they lay off employees the executives of these banks are spending money flippantly and frivolously.

President Obama has decided that since the executives are not being responsible and seemingly cannot manage themselves he will intervene and implement a series of pay curbs including a strict new limit on executive salaries at these institutions.  Under the new rules, companies like Citigroup that received “exceptional assistance” from taxpayers may not pay any top executive more than $500,000 a year.  Any additional compensation would have to be in restricted stocks that cannot be sold until the companies pay back the money they borrowed from the government.

In addition all banks receiving help will face tougher restrictions, including requirements that shareholders have a say on compensation, and will face tougher disclosure rules on items such as aviation services, holiday parties and golden parachutes.

Institutions that are financially healthy — and receive more generally available government funds — can waive these requirements if their shareholders vote to do so, according to the plan.

“The American people understand we’ve got a big hole that we’ve got to dig ourselves out of, but they don’t like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole even as they’re being asked to fill it up,” Obama said.

Congress also was furious, with Senator Claire McCaskill, (D-Missouri) introduced legislation to cap compensation at bailed-out companies to no more than the salary of the U.S. president.

President Obama’s annual salary is $400,000.

“We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer,” an enraged McCaskill said on the floor of the Senate on Friday. “They don’t get it. These people are idiots. You can’t use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses.”

Yeah!  Our government is standing up for its citizens!


November 30, 2008

Wall Streeters Drinking More At Lunch

wall-street-sign The titans of Wall Street have taken a battering in the financial markets recently, but they are eating well and drinking more, according to the people who run Manhattan’s “power” dining spots.

At the 21 Club, a longtime redoubt of corporate chieftains and big names, alcohol sales are up 9 per cent from last year, and businessmen can be seen drinking $14-a-glass cocktails as early as 3pm on a weekday.

“Where people used to have one vodka on the rocks, now it’s a second one or maybe a third,” says Roger Rice, the floor manager. “I don’t know what to attribute it to. Maybe it’s the last year of the expense account.”

Others say their customers are drinking more to drown their sorrows. “People want to feel a little numb because it’s numbing out there,” says Steve Millington, general manager at Michael’s, the restaurant of choice for publishing and media executives.

He reports that alcohol sales are up a fifth from last year. “At dinner, hard liquor sales are up, cocktails and martinis. It’s less so at lunch. People are drinking wine at lunch, less the high-end wines and more medium-priced wines.”

wall-street-bull-balls The increase in alcohol sales is clear, says Mr. Millington, because overall customer levels are on a par with last year. “There’s a scent of fear,” he says.

Times are good at Delmonico’s, the 181-year-old fine dining restaurant, says Dennis Turcinovic, managing partner.

“It’s scary to say, but our business is up 6 to 7 per cent,” he says. “Alcohol sales . . . help a lot, they’re about 15 per cent up this year. The bar’s busy all day. I’ve had to hire extra barmaids.”

There are few signs that people are saving money on food either. At San Pietro, an upmarket Italian restaurant, business remains brisk. Gerardo Bruno, president, says overall business is up 12 per cent from last year.

In spite of the turmoil in the markets, one rule has held firm at San Pietro. “Americans, they never drink at lunch,” Mr. Bruno says. As for dinner, hard liquor sales are down, but after-dinner drinks, particularly grappa and cognac, are up, he adds.

Wine sales remain strong, especially at dinner, except for one noticeable change. “When times are fantastic, the host does not lead, he lets his guests lead in choosing the wine,” says Mr. Bruno. However, in the current climate, dinner hosts are turning to him to ask for wine recommendations, a clear sign that restraint is in order, according to Mr. Bruno.

Yet not everyone has suffered in the economic downturn. Mr. Bruno produced two empty bottles of 1947 Petrus, consumed recently by a Chinese customer who called ahead to order the wines.

The price?

 A mere $12,000 each.




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