Mike Mayo Calls for the 100%, Asks Citi Chief Richard Parsons to ResignFebruary 16, 2012
There has been a lot of talk (and blog posts, and documentaries) about the 99% versus the 1% — what the 99% want, what the 1% have (and have done), and who is left out in the cold in our current economy.
On Wednesday’s Dylan Ratigan Show, longtime banking analyst Mike Mayo suggests the 99% and the 1% start formulating a “100%” movement. He also called for Citigroup Chairman Dick Parsons to resign.
“Whether it’s Occupy Wall Street or other people in the outside, there is a view that our financial system is rigged,” said Mayo. “So if somebody is not getting the job done, by getting rid of someone at the top, you send a signal.”
He continued, “we start with Citigroup — whether it’s 500 companies in the Fortune 500, let’s go company by company, chairman by chairman, CEO by CEO and hold people accountable,” said Mayo.
Author of “Exile on Wall Street: One Analyst’s Fight to Save the Big Banks from Themselves,” Mayo is one of the top-ranked banking and finance analysts for the past twenty years. He has worked at Wall Street firms including UBS, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse, Prudential Securities, and Deutsche Bank, and is currently a bank analyst affiliated with CLSA, a global boutique brokerage firm.
As Dylan explained on Wednesday’s show, the 100% movement is “the idea of one set of rules for every American — equal opportunity, and sustainable capitalism with capital in it.” Here’s how Mayo explains his idea for a 100% movement:
“Let’s have an economic system that brings along the hundred percent. A system that’s fair. A system where we hold people accountable with economic justice, where government works well with business and you have leadership and you don’t have politics over economics. I think a hundred percent would agree with those ideals.”
Here’s Dylan’s full conversation with Mike Mayo and the Megapanel:
IMOGEN LLOYD WEBBER: Dylan is all about Greedy Bastards. Is there a particular “Greedy Bastard” you think really should go at the moment who is still in power in the big banks?
MIKE MAYO: On page six of my book, I talk about the Chairman of Citigroup. It’s really comes down — it’s to not “greedy” or not in this case but it comes down to accountability. Who do we hold accountable for — in last decade, Citigroup had the highest CEO compensation in place and the worst stock price performance among banks. Who was head of the compensation committee for most of that time? The chairman of Citigroup today. While he has been Chairman of Citigroup, they’ve had all sorts of problems and he is still overseeing a company that I feel has a rigged compensation package for senior executives. We can talk about the housing crisis, the mortgage settlement, and everything else. I’m talking about here today in 2012 this is a person, the chairman of Citigroup, who should be gone.
ROB COX: Mike, Dick Parsons wasn’t Chairman, of course, when all that happened. He was on the compensation committee.
MIKE MAYO: He was head of the compensation committee –
DYLAN: He ran the compensation committee and his point is he was the one basically –
ROB COX: Rubber stamped all this money for people like Rubin. But over the last couple of years it has been certainly paid to have a separation of the Chairman and CEO roles of the company. Are you suggesting that Vikram Pandit becomes Chairman and CEO? What are you suggesting? If you got rid of Dick Parsons what is the solution?
MIKE MAYO: Get another Chairman, separate from Vikram Pandit. I applaud Citigroup’s separation of chairman and CEO, but you need a Chairman who can get the job done. This chairman has not gotten the job done.
There are a couple people on the board, Mike O’Neill would be one. There are some others. But by the way, I put out a note saying this and not one investor came back and said you’re wrong, Mike. Several investors, major investors go to work every day thinking about these issues, and what’s taking so long? He shouldn’t be in place anymore. All the company has to do is talk to the owners of the company or potential owners and they’d come to the same conclusion.
DYLAN: What would be the value to Wall Street, to the political environment, to the hundred percent movement, to Citigroup of displacing somebody like Mr. Parsons?
MIKE MAYO: The big issue and you know this. Whether it’s Occupy Wall Street or other people in the outside, there is a view that our financial system is rigged. So if somebody is not getting the job done, by getting rid of someone at the top, and it’s not like he has a choice, by getting rid of someone at the top you send a signal.
You send a signal to the other 200,000 Citigroup employees that we’ll hold people accountable if you’re not getting the job done. You send a signal to the rest of the banking industry and you send a signal to the outsiders that business as usual has changed.
And let’s just take one step at a time. We start with Citigroup — whether it’s 500 companies in the Fortune 500, let’s go company by company, chairman by chairman, CEO by CEO and hold people accountable.
DYLAN: What is your criteria? In other words — what would the criteria be that would get you to Richard Parsons in the first place specifically and how might you look at other companies through that lens?
MIKE MAYO: I mean you look at the specific job that they’ve had, so one simple criteria I’ve always used is what has the stock price done since a person has been CEO? How is compensation related to performance?
DYLAN: So are they paying themselves a lot of money as the stock price goes down? That is a bad sign.
MIKE MAYO: That is a really bad sign.
DYLAN: That’s what Richard Parsons is guilty of.
MIKE MAYO: What happened with Richard Parsons is that when he was head of the compensation committee paying, overseeing enormous payouts that is when Citigroup had issues with Enron and WorldCom, and endless conflicts of interest and the Japanese private bank had all sorts of issues. Then you had the housing crisis. With all these violations, they still paid a lot of people a lot of money. So the issue is well the big bank –
DYLAN: It is a custom environment every time basically.
MIKE MAYO: But it’s still taking place today. That’s the point of my book, is that the culture still hasn’t changed and all these solutions amount to putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, then, Mike, is there anyone, you mentioned one name at Citigroup but is there anyone else within the industry who meets your criteria who could come in and not be a “Greedy Bastard?” And can that person succeed if the laws aren’t there in order to help that person change the culture in Wall Street? Is it a person or is it the law that needs to change?
MIKE MAYO: Well, I think you could set a tone for the top. That’s what’s important about the role of a Chairman. You send a signal. Citigroup has corporate governance guidelines, and I feel several senior executives have violated those guidelines.
You go in there and you say we’re going ahead and take extra reserves against these legal issues and we’re going to hold some other people accountable for the mistakes, and we’re going to resolve some other legal issues. So the key here is sending a signal from the top and we need that at the top of Citigroup, the top of the industry. Some CEO’s have tried to do that. We need that at the top of our country for that matter. I know Dylan agrees with this. The political leadership needs to send a signal not just they’re going to go after people from 2007, 2008. Sure if someone broke the law you have to go after them, but we’ll send a signal that today we’ll have companies run for the interests of other than those at the top of these companies. In fact the SEC should make it easier for shareholders to go ahead and have a say — literally just today a top investor sent me an e-mail and said “I’m giving up trying to influence these corporations because they’re just managers. I’m going to be doing other things.”
DYLAN: It’s interesting if you think of that because if you look at the political problem in america, talking about money in politics, that is not really down to the root right? The root really is the electoral districts are not actually in play 80% of the time, and as a result the politicians are totally disconnected from the voters and can do whatever the special interests that is manipulating them is.
In your world, the shareholder is increasingly disconnected from the management of the publicly traded company which allows the manager of the publicly traded company to be more abusive, more misaligned not only with the company, with its employees, and with its shareholders. the more we have shareholders connected to management the more they’re connected, the more we have voters connected to politicians, the less we get this sort of contact. It’s interesting I think — frustrating for a lot of us – because we watch the current trend to make shareholders and voters less connected as opposed to more connected.
MIKE MAYO: The biggest surprise in my book and i think you’ve heard this, too, is not that the protester type says we agree about all the abuses. It’s that many investors, people on Wall Street, are fed up and they say you don’t know the half of it. These people are getting away with way too much, and the few people really abusing the system are ruining it for the rest of us.
DYLAN: And it is literally 20 or 30 guys or gals involved in the vast majority of the distortions we’re talking about, that millions of people and thousands of employees are paying the price for the collaboration of the giant banks themselves Fannie, Freddie, ratings agencies and a couple others. And really the rest of the room on Wall Street is either out to lunch relative to what this is, or thinks they’re doing something that is completely different than what this is. Your work is incredibly important and we appreciate your doing it and your being as public about it as you are, Mike.