March 2, 2012

Hard Times

“Look how we live, an’ wheer we live, an’ in what numbers, an’ by what chances, an’ wi’ what sameness; and look how the mills is awlus a-goin’, and how they never works us no nigher to onny distant object-‘ceptin awlus Death. Look how you considers of us, and writes of us, and talks of us, and goes up wi’ your deputations to Secretaries o’State ‘bout us, and how yo are awlus right, and how we are awlus wrong, and never had’n no reason in us sin ever we were born. Look how this ha’ growen an’ growen sir, bigger an’ bigger, broader an’ broader, harder an’ harder, fro year to year, fro generation unto generation. Who can look on’t sir, and fairly tell a man ‘tis not a muddle?” Charles Dickens, “Hard Times”
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Max Abelson’s exploration of the hard times facing the lower rungs of our Financial Overclass is nothing short of revelatory. The article posted on the Bloomberg website February 29th can be read in its entirety here. The OTCB team was frankly surprised to learn of the ongoing struggle and hardship being endured by these frugal, contributing members of our society. Some details brought to light in the Abelson column we found particularly noteworthy:
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Andrew Schiff, director of communications and marketing at Euro Pacific Capital (and brother to the more famous Peter) said “the $350,000 he earns…doesn’t cover his family’s private-school tuition, a Kent, Connecticut, summer rental and the upgrade they would like from their 1,200-square-foot Brooklyn duplex.” Only 1200 square feet? Are you kidding me? Our outhouse is bigger!
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Real-estate investor and hedge-fund manager Richard Scheiner spends $17,000 per year on his labradoodle (Zelda) and bichon fries (Duke). The expenses include daily dog walking fees at $34 per outing. Ouch! That’s a bitch! But who has time to actually walk their dogs? On a side note, it appears that an enterprising dog walker could pull down in the low six figures. That has us wondering if University of Phoenix offers any curriculum in this field. We’ve been looking for a fresh start. This could be absolutely awesome!
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And briefly back to Schiff, who exclaims “I don’t have a dishwasher. We do all our dishes by hand.” OMG! Dishpan hands! NOOOOOOO! Somebody call Madge! This in particular struck a chord with all of us here at the OTCB Global Headquarters Shed. We use biodegradable paper plates for that very reason.
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Anyways, while the Abelson/Bloomberg column was enlightening, we didn’t really feel any true insight was being offered into the myriad hardships being experienced by the massively wealthy. Sure, compared to average American incomes Schiff does pretty well at $350k. But frankly he can’t even afford to own a dog at that level, let alone groove on any Net Jets action. As a result, OTCB has sought out (or at least dreamt-up) some more affluent subjects to inquire as to what hardships they are experiencing due to the ongoing Modern Economic Depression.
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According to ABC News, financial titan/vampire squid Goldman Sachs’ earnings fell 58 percent in the last quarter of 2011. Partly as a result, Goldman Chairman & CEO Lloyd Blankfein has, like many other super-wealthy folks, fallen on hard times as well. Back in 2006 Blankfein received over $54 million in total compensation. More recently his compensation has dwindled to a paltry $8 million or so per year. So how does such a formerly high flier adjust to an 85% pay cut? Blankfein tells us how: “Fortunately the Company picks-up a lot of my travel expenses as I do like to fly private, require a fair amount of personal security after that whole vampire squid thing came out and I’m not really into mass transit. That said, I have still felt a bit of a squeeze given what is being called the new normal. In terms of my personal expenditures, I’m giving up suppositories and other collateral expenses related to my backside. Doing God’s work is a strain and my rectum reflects that. All-in, it’s been roughly a six figure annual anal expense for me but, as you’d likely expect, I still don’t give a shit. “
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Yet another Goldman alum, Henry ‘Hank’ Paulson, was also the 74th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. A raft of Paulson’s public statements while in office demonstrate the prescience, breadth of knowledge and dynamic capabilities he brought to the job (Source: Wikipedia):
April 2007: The signs show the housing market is at or near the bottom. The U.S. economy is very healthy and robust.
August 2007: Paulson explained that U.S. subprime mortgage fallout remained largely contained due to the strongest global economy in decades.
May 2008: Regarding the ‘credit crunch’, Paulson said he believed that the worst is likely to be behind us.
July 2008: Paulson reassured the public by saying, “it’s a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation.”
August 2008: Paulson said that he had no plans to inject any capital into Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. In September 2008, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went into conservatorship.
While Secretary Paulson did not receive much in the way of compensation as head of the U.S. Treasury (nor from his published work of fiction “On The Brink”), he did manage a rather decent payday upon his acceptance of the Treasury post as he was compelled, nay forced, to liquidate his personal holdings in Goldman Sachs. Paulson received the nearly $500 million tax-free in a windfall commonly referred to in Wall Street parlance as Fuck You money. So what is Hank Paulson cutting back on in these hard times? “Not fucking much” he replies, “although I have pretty much decided to cut out peyote. It gives me seriously bad dry heaves and makes me tremble like Janet Reno. It’s overwhelming really. I’m switching to shrooms. Way mellower and no stomach upset. There is some seriously weird shit crawling on that wall…..”
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And still one more Goldman alum, former Senator, Governor and CEO of MF Global, John Corzine has likely fallen on the hardest of times as compared to his other Goldman brethren. Unemployed and potentially facing criminal and civil penalties due to the disappearance of $1.2 billion in customer funds, Corzine has very little to say owing to his significant legal overhang. He merely smiles and asks “Why do you think we named it MF Global, motherfucker?”

OTCB: We make it up, you decide!

  1. outsidethe-cardboard-box posted this
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