Bye, Bye, Bear

I’m walking on sunshine at today’s demise of Bear, Stearns & Co. I know, I know—it’ll be rough on the economy. And it could be the beginning of the end of other major firms. But it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bunch of sons of bitches.

I was a hired as a trader/trainee at Bear, Stearns in 1985. I earned the princely sum of $10,000 a year. After taxes, I received $315.02 every two weeks. (My rent was $425, for half of a sixth-floor two-bedroom on a crack-infested street in the Barrio of Manhattan’s Manhattan Valley neighborhood. I survived by driving a taxi at night.) Three factoids:

First, if I’d earned $20 less per week, I would have qualified for food stamps. I requested a pay cut from my boss. He said no.

Second, the CEO of Bear Stearns at the time, “Ace” Greenberg (he gave himself the nickname), “earned” $40 million per annum.

Third, when the opening of the New York Stock Exchange moved from 10 am to 9:30, we were told to come to work a half-hour earlier, at 8:30. Did we get a raise? Nope.

I was working there when Bear Stearns went public. Each employee received shares, which opened at, as I recall, about $24 each. Because our allotment was based on our salaries (shouldn’t it have been inversely proportional?), I received eight shares. What a joke! I quit shortly thereafter. My next job paid $17,500, which seemed huge by comparison.

I ended up at a Japanese bank with a far more egalitarian payscale. The president earned about $125,000; the lowest paid worker in the fax room got about $20,000. Morale was excellent, the president knew everybody’s names, raises of 15% were standard.

Bear Stearns’ stock, trading at $170 one year ago, is now worth $2. The company won’t be missed, at least not by those of who contributed to its bottom line without receiving fair pay for a day’s work.

16 Responses to “”

  1. Aggie Dude Says:

    I regret this because I know the US taxpayer is going to bail them out. That money that those CEOs supposedly earn essentially comes straight from us. Their measly justifications for what they “deserve” are criminal.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Am I the only one who finds the image of Ted Rall working on Wall Street funnier than any cartoon?

    Kinda like W. shipping out with Greenpeace.

  3. Dynamo Boink Says:

    Interesting… How did you end up at Bear Stearns in the first place? And how long were you there?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I am sorry to disappoint you. When
    all is said and done, regardless
    to what will happen to individual firms and banks in Wall St. , those “deserving son of a bitches” will get away with very fattened bank accounts and the average Joe/jane will be pay dearly for the mess left behind.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    “I am sorry to disappoint you. When
    all is said and done, regardless
    to what will happen to individual firms and banks in Wall St. , those “deserving son of a bitches” will get away with very fattened bank accounts and the average Joe/jane will be pay dearly for the mess left behind.”

    Which is why 1930’s Soviet law should be employed; the chimps in charge of Bear, Stearns and Company should be considered “wreckers” (a real term from that period) and sentenced to fifty years of hard labor in Siberia, while the CEO should be shot, hacked to pieces and dumped down an empty mine shaft like the Tzar.

    – Strelnikov

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Ah yes, the enlightened Soviet government of the 1930s.

    Those of us stuck in, ya know, reality, know that those pudf**kers were as bad as, if not worse than the Nazis, so yes, by all means we should emulate them.

  7. Angelo Says:

    wow, anon is arguing with himself!

    look man, it is simple. Even the Nazis and the Russians knew how to run the basics of a state. IT is a sad comment that the US cannot.

  8. Geoduck Says:

    The real question on everybody’s mind: do you still own the stock?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    “Ah yes, the enlightened Soviet government of the 1930s.

    Those of us stuck in, ya know, reality, know that those pudf**kers were as bad as, if not worse than the Nazis, so yes, by all means we should emulate them.”

    And let the Bear, Stearns incompetents get away, right? Just like the S&Ls of the 1980s. The point is, you’re letting them get away, and in a country with the highest number of incarcerated people on the planet (most of them for piddling drug offenses) it’s disturbing that the white collar criminals (who do the most damage to this country and other countries over the long haul) get slapped on the wrist. If nobody is held responsible, then criminality becomes the norm and those with the most power should pay the heaviest prices for breaking the law. But you would let them jet off to Puerto Vallarta.

    – Strelnikov

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Hey, I agree with the position that these guys should go to jail. I just don’t agree with the theory that the Soviet model is one to emulate.

    Kolya butchered far more than Hitler and Bush.

    ANYONE who argues for Stalinism is a fool.!

  11. IrishUp Says:

    Actually, why not the modern Chinese model?
    Door #1 – trial, humiliation, loss of honor, firing sqaud.
    Door #2 – take care of the mess yourself.
    If you look past the barbarity of suicide and murder, it does seem to promote personal accountablility. *snark*

  12. Anonymous Says:

    “ANYONE who argues for Stalinism is a fool.!”

    And who was arguing for the USSR? I just laid out what these people deserve. Very few countries have actually taken the time to address the concept of economic crime; most of these “executive criminals” get to serve time in minimum security prisons and they get out in 5 years. The only fool I see is the one who does not realize the enormous amount of damage these snake-oil peddlers have done to the US economy and that the bleeding will continue for some time. When you are selling apples and string on streetcorners, then maybe you will learn.

    – Strelnikov

  13. Ted Rall Says:

    Better-informed writers than I have amply covered the causes of Bear Stearns financial demise. I don’t write about things other people have already done well.

    If you want to get into it, though, Bear Stearns is not the only Wall Street firm to have abused Reagan-era deregulation, and it won’t be the last.

    For the record, I was a full-time employee. I wasn’t an intern.

    All I meant to do with this little blog entry was talk about how much I hated working for a bunch of assholes, many of whom are not appreciably less wealthy due to their own greed. Send me your PayPal account and I’ll refund what you paid to read it.

  14. skevin Says:

    I worked as a graveyard shift supervisor for a vendor that provided photocopy services for Bear Stearns in Manhattan from 1998 to 2002. My job was to manage the printing of their buy-sell-hold reports each morning. I also made departmental reports and bootleg IPO’s.

    It was the worst assignment I’d ever been given. The customers were mercurial and demanding. Some of them would lie about whether I’d delivered a report. When they moved from their old headquarters on Park Ave. to the new digs on Madison, they temporarily had us run a copy shop in each building. Some reports had to be carried between the two structures in driving rain along 46th Street at 4:00 am in the morning. If we were late there was trouble, and sometimes we had to be late because lawyers would hold up production. We were never thanked for what we did.

    The hardest things for me to print were IPO’s for ethically questionable ventures like privatized prisons (“One out of every five Americans will be incarcerated during their lifetimes. This is an investment opportunity you cannot miss”) There were lots of offerings for shady real estate deals in hillbilly country.

    When the move to the new building was completed, after all our efforts, they announced that they were terminating contracts with all their vendors including the copy staff, the cafeteria staff, and the security people. Since I really gave my best effort to the job, I felt that I was being told that my labor was of no value. I took an early retirement soon after that.

    As you can imagine their collapse gives me the joy of vindication. It was no surprise to me that they’d driven their stock down from $170 a share to two bucks in less than a year.

    It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving aggregate of yuppie slime.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    “It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving aggregate of yuppie slime.”

    Even though you’re paying for their stupidity?

    – Strelnikov

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I wonder, perhaps if we hate our jobs we should start sabotaging them from inside? Since complaining is quitting and they are working on outsourcing or sub-sourcing us as quickly as possible, and being a ‘good’ worker only makes us worse suckers, why not do anything and everything to sabotage them? Oh, nothing that would get us fired directly, but lots of ‘monkeywrenches’ thrown in the works. Knowledge leaked, customers on the ‘treat bad’ list, equipment that needs maitenance sooner.

    Collapse the whole stinking pile of filth that is corporate AmeriKKKa so there’s no ‘bailout’ but a ‘socialist reconstruction’…

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