The Top 10 Bros of the Financial Crisis
Ever since the financial system collapse of 2008, the mass media has been trying to scapegoat and shame the CEOs of some of the country's biggest banks, hedge funds, and insurance groups. We here at BroBible look at these industry titans as true Bro heroes — money-loving guys who may have gone all in with a 7-2 off suit but still had a hell of a good time trying to bluff their way out of it. Here, then, are the top 10 Bros of the Financial Crisis:
Normally helping poor people obtain financing to purchase houses would keep someone off of a top 10 bro-financier list, but when it's done in the ruthless pursuit of profits with a little bit of fraud peppered on, it's simply bad-ass.
Angelo Mozilo netted $470 million as CEO of Countrywide Financial in only a five-year period, while leading the company to unseen levels of prosperity and subsequent disastrous failure. He also founded IndyMac bank before coming to Countrywide, which suffered an equally exciting bankruptcy. His “friends of Angelo” program was a textbook case of Bro-rruption, offering favorable mortgages to senior members of the banking Committee in the Senate. As Mozilo realized that his company was collapsing, he did what any true financial bro would do: exercised $130 million in stock options in 2007 and resigned. He's currently facing securities fraud and insider trading charges, but he's the son of a butcher from the Bronx and has two words for the SEC: “Stop Snitchin'.”
Charles Prince III, or Chuck, as he was known in his USC days, is the former bossman of Citi, once the largest financial services company in the world. Prince made “too big to fail” hip in the investment banking world, and famously said in 2007 that “…as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing.” Even though Citi soon collapsed on the dance floor after hitting a few too many toxic assets, Prince is still getting his groove on. Compensation for taking Citi stock from $55 to $3 a share totaled about $100 million.
[inline:stan]Stan O'Neal, former CEO of Merrill Lynch, came through the financial crisis as a true champion… on the golf course. Sporting a 9.9 handicap, he ranked as the number one golfer of the banking CEOs. After $80 million in pay in 2006 and 2007, he tried to secretly sell Merrill to Wachovia without telling his board of directors, a move so ballsy that it got him fired. Stan went out with a bang, riding his $160 million golden parachute to be safely ranked by CNBC as one off “the worst CEOs of all time,” all while his battered company wrote down $40 billion of bad assets after he was fired.
As President Bush once said, “Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … you can't get fooled again.” This must have been what John Meriwether's investors were thinking when they invested in his second hedge fund. As the founder of LTCM, at one point the largest hedge fund in the world, Meriwether would have easily made the bro list from the financial panic in 1998 when LTCM's collapse almost brought down the global financial system. An avid golfer, dog racer, and former Salomon bond trader (trading bonds is the most fun a bro can have with his clothes on), Meriwether didn't call it quits when his first fund blew up… or when his second one, JWM partners, blew up in 2008. He now has a third hedge fund, JM Advisors, using the same strategy as his previous two. Meriwether personifies the ability to produce vast sums of wealth for himself while losing it for others, a pillar of a being a bro-financier.
Joe Cassano made excessive executive compensation cool again. A rags-to-riches bro, Cassano began his career as a policeman in Brooklyn before jumping into the finance world. Cassano learned from the best before joining AIG, having worked at Drexel Burnham Lambert right up until it collapsed in 1987. Even though some of his fellow financiers walked away with more than the $315 million that Cassano received while running the AIG Financial Products Division (home of the credit default swap), no one was able to do it in such an egregious fashion. Even after the government injected $85 billion of taxpayer money into AIG to prevent the economies collapse, Cassano remained on the payroll netting a million dollars a month.
Richard S. Fuld, Jr., known as “Dick” to both friends and the millions of Lehman stock holders who he bankrupted, was a bro right from the beginning. After attending the prestigious University of Colorado at Boulder he did a brief stint in the Air Force, which ended when he got in a fistfight with his commander. He decided to let his aggression manifest itself on Wall Street, a profitable choice netting him more than $500 million while CEO of Lehman Brothers. Fuld maintained a healthy work life balance, even managing to get a full weekend out of the office during Lehman Brothers' last few days (the mainstream media/Federal Reserve/and U.S. Treasury claim this is because he was uninvited from final talks, but that's just bro-hating, it was a choice). Fuld carries many distinctions from his career including #1 CEO in the Brokers and Asset Management category from Institutional Investor in 2006, a former seat on the board of directors of the New York Federal Reserve, the Financial Times' “Thief” award, and one of CNN's “Ten Most Wanted Culprits of the Collapse.”
[inline:jimm]Jimmy Cayne, the cigar-chomping Bear Stearns CEO, helped kick off the financial frenzy of 2008 by opting to play in a bridge tournament while two of Bear's hedge funds exploded in the summer of 2007. He followed this up with another bridge tournament in March of 2008, the same month that Bear Stearns collapsed. A true financial bro can stomach a loss here and there for the sake of competitive card playing, and Cayne took this to the max, having his net worth decline from $1.6 billion to a mere $60 million. Many financial bros saw this turn about as fair play, as Cayne had been the only CEO to walk out of the bailout of fellow bro John Meriwether when his first hedge fund collapsed.
John Thain pulled the ultimate financial switcheroo, selling Merrill Lynch to Bank of America the same day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. BoA, extremely excited about the bag of financial maui waui they picked up for pennies, flipped out and fired their CEO when they realized it was actually oregano. Thain wasn't too popular at BoA so he left, too, eventually becoming CEO of CIT, another bankrupt company. Thain also has an appreciation for the finer things in life. He wisely invested $87,000 of Merrill's cash before the collapse in a Persian rug, an arguably better investment than many of the mortgages they bet on.
When Alan Fishman took over as CEO for Washington Mutual in September of 2008 (after fellow bro Kerry Killinger was canned) he had a lot of work to do to save the flailing company. Looking ahead, he did what any bro-xecutive would do. He called it quits, sold WaMu to JPMorgan, and took a $19 million payday for three weeks of work… Classic.
As CEO of AIG, Martin Sullivan helped turn the $100 billion company into an insolvent liability for the US taxpayers while only netting a modest $47 million severance package upon being fired. Sullivan wasn't all about the bottom line like so many egocentric executives; he stayed loyal to the bone to his fellow bros, including aforementioned Joe Cassano. In testimony before Congress defending a decision to continue paying Joe Cassano, the man behind AIG's collapse, a million dollars a month, Sullivan said that he wanted to “retain the 20-year knowledge that Mr. Cassano had.” He also was honest and true to himself, commenting long before AIG's collapse that there was no way their CDS portfolio could withstand a downturn in the economy. Honesty, integrity, and golden parachute: three virtues of a financial bro.