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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

No Shame, No Gain

So Dec. 5 was the day when Merrill Lynch and Bank of America shareholders voted on BofA's purchase of Merrill.  I had a vested interest in this.  For my bar mitzvah I'd gotten 2 shares of Merrill Lynch, and with dividend reinvestment over the years I'd accumulated a few dozen shares that a year or two ago were actually worth something and by today really not very much.  And I consider myself lucky because I'm ending up with a much better deal than if I'd gotten two shares of  Lehman Bros.

I'm not happy with the management of Merrill.  E. Stanley O'Neal has watched whatever stock he had drop in value just like the rest of us, but he made salary and bonus in the tens of millons of dollars for years of profits under his watch that have all but disappeared in a sea of black ink and write-offs.  

But here's the thing.  You know how many directors of Merrill Lynch showed up at the stockholder meeting where the vote took place?  According to this article from Bloomberg news, one.  One.  Bank of America did a tad better, with two of their directors willing to take any credit for buying Merrill.  To me, this says something pretty awful about the state of moral accountibility in America right now, that you can take home a $265K board retainer for a year when the stock of the company you run has lost 80% of its value, and you don't even think for that much money you can show up for the funeral a half hour of lectures from the shareholders.  Is there no shame?  Any sense of decency or responsibility or accountability?  It makes me sick.

1 comment:

Maria said...

I'd have to say that No, there is no shame. They took their bonuses and whatnot, ran the company into the ground and then walked away without a word.

Sadly, I suspect there will be more to come.