Jamie Dimon is wagging his finger from newstands across America this week, above the kind of headline his PR team can only dream of: “DIMON IS FOREVER: Why Jamie Dimon is Wall Street’s Indispensable Man”.
James Stewart has an important column on Cooper Union today: if you read it carefully, it hints at how much further Cooper might yet fall from its founding mission of providing free education. Cooper’s trustees are press-shy these days, but Stewart snagged an on-the-record interview with one of the most important ones: John Michaelson, the chair of the investment committee.
There’s a lot of money and power at the nexus of banking and policymaking, home of the infamous revolving door and the natural habitat of people like Mike Froman, America’s new trade representative, who has shuttled back and forth between government and Citigroup and who, behind the scenes, helped pick all of Barack Obama’s initial economic team. And wherever there’s money and power, you’re sure to find turmoil. If Promontory is the big winner these days, there’s also bound to be a big loser. Let me introduce you to the IIF.
Scott Thurm and Serena Ng have an odd piece in today’s WSJ, complaining about executive pay being tied to per-share results rather than overall numbers. Their poster child is Safeway CEO Steven Burd, who has overseen a substantial increase in earnings per share even as sales and profits have gone nowhere, by spending $1.2 billion on stock buybacks.
If you want to really understand the importance of Cooper Union and its century-long tradition of free tuition, I can’t recommend Sangamithra Iyer’s excellent article in n+1 highly enough. And it contrasts greatly, of course, with the official statement from Cooper Union’s Board of Trustees, saying that the college is going to stop being free very soon: beginning, in fact with the students entering in September 2014. The statement is curiously upbeat, for a decision which essentially marks the death of Cooper Union as we know it. And it’s chock-full of the kind of doublespeak which is all too easily deciphered:
Justin Fox is not a fan of the video where I take the Goldman Sachs board to task. Yes, he says, the Goldman board is packed with insiders and fails just about every rule of corporate governance — but so what?
It’s easy to be rude about banks’ boards, and how they tend to be filled with tick-the-boxes types: the management consultant, the retired general, the business-school professor, and a bunch of “private investors” (or “people who inherited their money”, as they’re also known). And given its manifest incompetence over the past week, I clicked over to the list of Barclays board members fully expecting to see the same usual suspects — especially since the chairman, Marcus Agius, sounds like he really ought to have been born about 2,000 years ago.
The Telegraph has dubbed it Shareholder Spring: in the UK, these days, CEOs are falling left and right after shareholders complain about their pay. First came David Brennan, the CEO of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, who decided to spend more time with his family after shareholders made it clear they wanted him out. Next up was Sly Bailey at publisher Trinity Mirror, who was also facing a shareholder revolt. Now it’s the turn of Andrew Moss, the head of insurer Aviva, who waited until after shareholders voted against his pay package before handing in his resignation.