Thursday, June 21, 2012

NEWS BLOG: Wall Street’s lesson – Take the money and run

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 10:12 AM

A real estate broker friend of mine used to jokingly refer to some roofers and contractors with a couple of favorite prefixes. "You know, fly by night [roofer's name]," he would say. Or "Take the money and run [contractor]."

As investigators looked into the country's financial meltdown, they found that corruption in the banking and home mortgage industries was so widespread that some employees used an acronym: "IBGYBG."

It stands for: I'll be gone, you'll be gone.

IBGYBG got public attention during a congressional committee hearing. A financial ratings agency employee testified that a banker used the acronym when he questioned him about a deal the two were working on.

According to the ratings agency employee, when the banker was questioned about some of the documentation, he said, let's just do the deal: "IBGYBG."

The saying has recently resurfaced as Congress questioned Wall Street heavyweight Jamie Dimon about JP Morgan's recent $2 billion loss of its investors' money. Watching the hearings on TV was like watching a comedic tragedy.

For one thing, it's hard to imagine that some members of Congress can be so naive about how investment brokers and salespeople on Wall Street are paid, usually by a commission on the deals they close. Do they gamble with other people's money? What a silly question. Of course, they do.

But on Wall Street, the rewards can be extraordinarily high. And the incentive to close deals seems to have overtaken a sense of ethics: IBGYBG.

It's not surprising that so many Americans were upset about the bank bailouts.

IBGYBG got rewarded, and from listening to Dimon this week, not much has changed.

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