The 10 Greediest People of 2010 - Blankfein Makes The List
Dec 21, 2010 at 5:46 PM
DailyBail in goldman sachs, goldman sachs, greed, lloyd blankfein, lloyd blankfein

They came, they saw, they took it all.  Welcome to the world where thieves have no honor, and those who hone their talents hammering the rest of us are lavishly rewarded.  Hard times can be good times -- for the aggressively avaricious.  Where others see pain, they see opportunity.  In desperation, they delight.  The grimmer the economic outlook, the more ghastly their grabbing.

And who grabbed the most outrageously in 2010?  We offer below our annual take on America's ten greediest of the year.

Below are numbers 4-7.


7 - Don Blankenship: Dirty business as usual

Outside the nation’s coal fields, few Americans knew Don Blankenship, the CEO at Massey Energy, before last April. But that all changed after an explosion that month left 29 Massey miners dead. Reporters would soon grill Blankenship about the mine’s long history of safety violations, over 500 in 2009 alone.

“Violations,” the Massey chief coldheartedly retorted, “are unfortunately a normal part of the mining process.”

Almost as normal as windfall paychecks for Don Blankenship. The Massey CEOtook home nearly $34 million in 2005, about quadruple the industry standard. Over the last three years, he has waltzed away from his office with another $38.2 million. But the real waltzing is only now beginning.

The 60-year-old Blankenship is retiring at the end of this year with a pension valued at $5.7 million, another $12 million in severance, still another $27.2 million in deferred pay, title to a company-owned house, and a two-year consulting agreement that pays $5,000 a month for no more than 32 hours work.

Blankenship may even exit, once all this year's stats have come in, with a 2010 “performance” bonus that factors in safety.

How can a coal company CEO with 29 dead miners get a safety bonus? Massey’s flagship safety standard, “Non-Fatal Days Lost,” merely multiplies “the number of employee work-related accidents times 200,000 hours, divided by the total employee hours worked.” Death doesn’t factor in.

6 - David Cote: King of America's corporate political cash

Coal can kill. Uranium, too. Workers who handle uranium, notes labor journalist Mike Elk, “suffer rates of cancer 10 times higher than the general public.”

That’s one big reason why the union local that represents workers at a Honeywell uranium facility in Illinois this past June rejected a management proposal to eliminate retiree medical care and boost -- to $8,500 a year -- the out-of-pocket health care costs active workers have to pay.

A disappointed Honeywell, one of the nation’s top defense contractors, promptly locked the Illinois uranium workers out. Those workers, ever since then, have been trying to meet face to face with Honeywell CEO David Cote.

The week after Thanksgiving, the locked-out workers even traveled to Washington, D.C., where Cote, a member of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, was discussing with his fellow commissioners a variety of proposals to slash federal spending.

Cote, who took home $13.2 million last year and $28.7 million the year before, has been spending big himself -- on political contributions. Under his direction, Honeywell has emerged as the nation’s top corporate political giver.

Cote’s agenda? Making sure the budget-cutters in Washington keep hands off defense contracts. As one alternative, press reports indicate, he’s pushing a freeze on the pay that goes to America’s servicemen and women.

5 - David Tepper: This hedge needs clipping

Nobody made more money last year than America’s top hedge fund managers, and no hedge fund manager made more than David Tepper. This 53-year-old former junk bond trader at Goldman Sachs hit a $4 billion jackpot essentially betting, in the middle of the global financial meltdown, that Uncle Sam wouldn't let Wall Street's biggest banks go under.

Tepper is currently doing his best to single-handedly reboot America’s still depressed residential real estate market. In June, he spent $43.5 million to pick up a summer home in the Hamptons that used to belong to former New Jersey governor and Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine. The 6.5-acre beachfront spread sports six bedrooms, a tennis court, and a heated pool -- and rented last summer for $900,000.

The $43.5 million Tepper shelled out ended up the highest price paid this year for a Hamptons home. The total also amounted to about half the record $88 million the hedge fund industry raised for the homeless this past May at the 2010 Robin Hood Foundation dinner, Wall Street's single biggest annual charity gala.

One official at the foundation dubbed that $88 million an act of “extraordinary generosity.” Others might define “extraordinary” a bit differently. David Tepper and the rest of the hedge fund industry’s top 25 last year together pocketed $25.3 billion. They averaged, each and every business day, over $100 million.

4 - Lloyd Blankfein: Getting the most from our tax dollars

Lloyd Blankfein, the chief exec at Wall Street’s biggest bank, has had a stunning century. Since 2000, Bloomberg News calculates, Blankfein has earned a whopping $125 million in cash bonuses and enough additional stock awards to leave him with a personal stash of Goldman shares worth over $300 million.

And the goodies keep coming. This January, Blankfein will pick up another $24.3 million in stock, as a delayed payout from previous years. He’ll also pick up millions more in soon-to-be-announced bonuses for 2010.

News of these bonuses, Wall Street analyst Jeanne Branthover predicts, will leave the public “outraged” and Wall Streeters “excited” -- that “there’s still a reason to be working so hard.”

How hard is Lloyd Blankfein working? He simply never misses an opportunity, however small, to make a buck off taxpayers. This year’s prime example: the fees that Goldman Sachs has fixed on Build America Bonds, the federal program that's helping states and localities raise money for construction job projects.

Local governments, in tough times, often have to cut back on such projects because they can't afford to pay the interest on new bond offerings. With Build America Bonds, the federal government is paying 35 percent of this interest.

Investment banks charge municipalities fees to bring their bonds to investors. Goldman’s fees typically range up to 0.625 percent of each bond issue. But Goldman has been charging, on Build America Bonds, up to 0.875 percent. Why so much? Goldman, Blankfein told Congress, had to “educate the market.”



But Lloyd Blankfein does God's work...

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