Wall Street’s Machiavellian Sharks

Perhaps it’s uncharitable to complain about the piddling $12 million severance Jon Corzine was poised to gain if he had managed to sell his current firm, MF Global Holdings, over the weekend.

But I’m going to complain anyway. The idea that Corzine, who single-handedly destroyed MF Global Holdings, was in a position to command so much as a penny in severance is horrifying. It suggests two things. The first is the extent to which “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose” remains the operative concept for Wall Street compensation. The second is that one’s politics doesn’t much matter when it comes to lining one’s pockets. Corzine is an avowed liberal who has decried income inequality and Wall Street pay ” but right up until the end, he had his hand out for millions he didn’t deserve.

–Joe Nocera, “Corzine Crashes Like It’s 2008“; The New York Times (10/31/2011)

So, former Goldman Sachs CEO (and New Jersey Senator and Governor) Jon Corzine bet his most recent company, MF Global, and lost —  spectacularly.

Or more accurately, his company’s employees, creditors, and investors lost spectacularly.

Corzine, meanwhile, got most of his money up front — and, as The Times’ Nocera notes, nearly collected another $12 million on the way out the door.

Back Story

If you haven’t been watching this week’s financial news, MF Global filed for bankruptcy yesterday amid allegations of accounting improprieties and missing funds (hundreds of millions, actually).

As sensational as that news may be, however, what I can’t get out of my head is that this is the guy who was ousted in a 1999 Goldman Sachs palace coup.

In other words, as much of a reckless, self-serving shark as Corzine was and is, the guys currently running Goldman Sachs  . . . are worse.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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