Banks in a Poke
Americans United for Change isn't the first advocacy group to accuse Wall Street's denizens of swinish behavior. But before the group started buying 30-second cable spots, the accusation hadn't been so literal.
Against a sound track of banjos and grunting, a pair of pigs bearing Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. logos root around for spilled corn. A porker branded with Citigroup Inc.'s logo has its snout and front feet immersed in the bailout slop bucket. Yet another, representing Goldman Sachs & Co., looms over a smaller pig and looks mildly supercilious.
"When big banks went hog wild on Wall Street — they left behind one fine mess on Main Street," an announcer twangs, listing evidence of boom-era excess. "Tell Congress it's time to step up and pass President Obama's plan to hold the Wall Street banks accountable."
Tom McMahon, the director of the progressive organization, said people are already angry at banks. He'd like them to be angrier — and direct their ire at Washington.
"Banks seem to be suffering some amnesia about where they were a year ago," McMahon said. "This is a reminder to folks on the Hill, particularly Republicans, that it's better to address voter outrage now than wait until November to have it addressed for you."
Viewers should not read too much into which pig represents which bank. "Goldman being the biggest pig wasn't deliberate," McMahon said. "But it's not a bad reference point."
'I'll Take a Me'
Caribou Coffee is tapping into the buzz in Charlotte over Bank of America Corp.'s new CEO.
The chain's store in B of A's downtown headquarters plaza has introduced a specialty drink named after Brian Moynihan, who took the helm at Bank of America on Jan. 1. The "Moynihan" features white chocolate, with hints of hazelnut and Irish cream, priced at $4.25. Tasha Carter, a shift supervisor, said the drink was unveiled shortly after Moynihan became the CEO, and it has remained a hit.
"We typically don't offer these specialty drinks all that long," she said, giving co-worker Sarah Stevens credit for the idea. "Everybody loves the Moynihan."
Moynihan and a pair of top lieutenants should be able to buy plenty of the specialty drink, though, after getting salary increases this week. B of A said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that Moynihan would receive a 19% raise from his pay as head of consumer and small business banking, to $950,000. Joe Price, the former chief financial officer who succeeded Moynihan as consumer head, and Barbara Desoer, who oversees mortgages and insurance, each got pay increases of 60%, to $800,000.
Moynihan's pay equals roughly 223,000 Moynihans. For Price and Desoer it would be 188,000 each.
Talking Up Lending
For those who fault banks for sluggish lending, comments by Wells Fargo & Co. executives this week hit the right notes but were short on details.
Howard Atkins, the chief financial officer, said at a presentation Tuesday that Wells Fargo is making an "aggressive" effort to "invest in activities that contribute to U.S. growth and health," but he gave no specifics.
A slightly more specific pledge came from Perry Pelos, an executive vice president and the head of Wells' Western commercial lending. The company intends to double its commercial lending in California within five years, he said in a press release. It hasn't released the size of its current California commercial portfolio.
Helping with the effort will be five executives named to head offices in the Western commercial lending division: MaryLou Barreiro in the San Gabriel Valley; David Ritchie in Orange County; John Manning in Los Angeles; John Adams in the state's North Coast office; and Rob Yraceburu in the Central Valley.
Building Duke's Rep
Duke University has hired a former private-equity executive to oversee its new Center for Financial Excellence.
Seth Gardner, previously a managing director at Cerberus Capital Management LP, said one of his goals is to increase the prestige of Duke's financial research.
"Duke recognizes the need to improve MBA finance education and instruction in light of the financial crisis," he said in a press release. Duke's academic research is "without question among the most thoughtful and relevant being published today."
Gardner also worked for eight years at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he specialized in corporate restructurings and reorganizations.