In-Person Events

We’ve added a new Events page to the site (which you should see at the top of the page if you’re viewing this on the site). Right now this lists scheduled events that are open to the public, should you want to see what we look like in person. We’ll be adding more as they get scheduled, and we hope to see you at one of them.

The Book Exists!

Simon and I saw it for the first time at the Fordham Law School conference on Friday. A bunch of reviewers got their copies before we did. A few notes:

  • It looks and feels beautiful. The cover is made of something they call “foil” in the industry.
  • It was printed in Virginia.
  • There are already two people selling it on eBay (it won’t be in bookstores until March 30).

I’ll have a calendar of appearances up at some point, probably later this week.

13 Other Bankers

The Huffington Post has a story on the thirteen biggest paychecks in finance. This is certainly not the actual thirteen biggest in finance, because those would all be hedge fund managers. And it probably isn’t the thirteen biggest in the banking sector, since I don’t think banks have to disclose that (they do have to disclose top executives’ pay; I’m not sure if any recent changes in the law demand disclosure of the top earners’ pay). But it’s still thirteen big paychecks.

If there’s one name shareholders should be mad about, it’s probably Gregory Curl at Bank of America, who comes in at #12 — despite getting completely rolled by Greg Fleming in the negotiations to buy Merrill Lynch, at least according to Andrew Ross Sorkin in Too Big to Fail. On Sunday, September 14, 2008 — the day before Lehman declared bankruptcy and the real panic began — B of A agreed to pay not just a premium for Merrill Lynch, but, according to Sorkin, “the biggest premium in the history of bank mergers” (p. 358). (Most likely, Bank of America could have bought Merrill for a small fraction of the purchase price only a week later.) Not only that, but Bank of America agreed to fund Merrill’s bonus pool up to 2007 levels, which would contribute (via the scandal over the Merrill bonuses) to Ken Lewis losing his job as B of A’s CEO.

Final Corrections

Page 199: Change “forty senators” to “forty-one senators.”

Page 208: Change “The Obama administration agrees” (with the large banks) to “The Obama administration agreed.”

By James Kwak

Did Barack Obama Read Our Book?

Well, probably not. But today, according to the Wall Street Journal, Obama is set to propose new restrictions on the size of the largest banks and on the activities they can engage in. (See our Baseline Scenario posts for more details.) Imposing hard limits on bank size is something that we have been arguing for and that is a central recommendation of 13 Bankers, which describes how the banks got so big and why that presents both economic and political problems.

One announcement by President Obama is, of course, only the first step in a long journey. The resistance from the banking industry and its allies in Congress will be bitter and, in the short term (the current session of Congress), probably successful. But the fact that the president is willing to take a stand–depending on how strong a position he actually takes–will help move both public opinion and the Washington establishment in the right direction.

By James Kwak


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