Only months ago, ordering that $1,950 bottle of 2003 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon at Craft restaurant or the $26-per-ounce Wagyu beef at Nobu, or sliding into Masa for the $600 prix fixe dinner (not including tax, tip, or drinks), was a way of life for many Wall Street investment bankers. “The culture was that if you didn’t spend extravagantly you’d be ridiculed at work,” says a former Lehmanite. But that was when there were investment banks. Now many bankers, along with discovering $15 bottles of wine, are finding other ways to cut back—if not out of necessity, then from collective guilt and fear: the fitness trainer from three times a week to once a week; the haircut and highlights every eight weeks instead of every five. One prominent “hedgie” recently flew to China for business—but not on a private plane, as before. “Why should I pay $250,000 for a private plane,” he said to a friend, “when I can pay $20,000 to fly commercial first class?”
Ouch, that must hurt! Poor, poor banker….
With sport-utility vehicles at the altar and auto workers in the pews, one of Detroit’s largest churches on Sunday offered up prayers for Congress to bail out the struggling auto industry.
Perhaps they can visit the parking lots as well?
Merrill Lynch Chief Executive John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the battered company’s compensation committee is resisting his request, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.
Thain has said he deserves a bonus because he helped avert what could have been a much larger crisis at the firm, people familiar with his thinking told the WSJ
The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will take up a controversial Bush administration legal policy and decide whether the president has the power to order the military to arrest and hold a civilian in the United States on the basis of suspected ties to terrorists.
The justices voted to hear the case of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, the only person who remains in military custody in this country as an “enemy combatant.” Administration officials say he came to the United States on a “martyr mission” for Al Qaeda.
The court will hear arguments in March, two months after the Bush administration has left office. The case presents an interesting test for the incoming Barack Obama administration, which could defend the government’s handling of Marri’s case or change course and prosecute him in criminal court.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to grant review will compel the incoming Obama administration to quickly focus on U.S. detention policy,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, a lawyer for the Constitution Project. “We hope that President-elect Obama will resoundingly reject the current administration’s breathtaking claim that the United States may hold a civilian in military detention indefinitely.”
ROYAL Bank of Scotland has secretly changed customers’ accounts into personal loans with up to 80% interest, generating debts of as much as £100,000, an investigation has revealed.
The bank, which was effectively nationalised 10 days ago, has admitted that its debt collection branch drew up new loan agreements and accounts for customers without their consent. MPs this weekend questioned whether the scheme was legal.
Another customer, Paul Walton, 41, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, found loan documents drawn up in his name for new accounts. “They were fabricated and there was interest accumulating in the accounts,” he said.
The bank claims the new loan accounts were created “purely” for administration and that it was never intended that the debts should be collected. They were unable to explain exactly what the purpose of the “administrative accounts” was, why they had created them and how many customers were affected.