One thing that has become abundantly clear after seven years of global QE is that the trickle-down "wealth effect" is a myth.
At the macro level, lackluster global demand betrays the failure of central bank policy to engineer a robust recovery. At the micro level, the growing wealth divide is proof of what should have been self evident even to a PhD economist: policies explicitly designed to inflate the assets most likely to be held by the wealthy will likely serve to exacerbate the disparity been the haves and the have nots.
Of course, post-crisis monetary policy has not only served to restore the fortunes of wealthy individuals - it’s also been tremendously helpful in nursing the world’s largest financial institutions back to health after they were nearly destroyed by their own greed and malfeasance.
These two happy (if you understand how important it is to have assets) byproducts of post-crisis money printing coalesce into what is perhaps the greatest betrayal of the public trust in modern history when one looks at how things have turned out for the very people whose decisions brought about the collapse of the system and effectively sowed the seeds for the very policies which have since served to make them even richer than they were before the meltdown. In short, Wall Street executives have done quite well since 2009 as was made abundantly clear last month when Bloomberg reported that Jamie Dimon had become a billionaire.
Well, just a little over a month later we learn that yet another TBTF CEO has joined the billionaire banker club and honestly, we’re surprised it took this long because after all, when you’re the CEO of the blood-sucking cephalopod that holds the political and financial fate of the world in its tentacles, it seems only right that you would have been a billionaire long before any other banker on the Street. Whatever the case, Lloyd Blankfein is now a billionaire. Bloomberg has more:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. made hundreds of partners rich when it went public in 1999. Its performance since then has turned Lloyd Blankfein into a billionaire.
The chief executive officer of the Wall Street bank for the past nine years, Blankfein has seen his net worth surge to about $1.1 billion as the firm’s shares quadrupled since the initial public offering, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. As the largest individual owner of Goldman Sachs stock, he has a stake in the company worth almost $500 million. Real estate and an investment portfolio seeded by cash bonuses and distributions from the bank’s private-equity funds add more than $600 million.
Blankfein, 60, was co-head of fixed-income trading when Goldman Sachs had its IPO, an event that created enormous wealth for executives. Partners in the firm received stock valued at an average of $63.6 million at the time of the sale. Henry Paulson, the bank’s CEO before and after the IPO, had almost $600 million of stock and options when he left to become U.S. Treasury Secretary in 2006, a move that allowed him to sell his stake without paying taxes.
Shares in the firm have climbed 298 percent since the IPO, compared with a 6 percent drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index. The stock has doubled in the past three years, reaching its highest level since 2007.
And frankly, that’s pretty much all you need to know. The Bloomberg article has more on Blankfein’s homes, background, and charity work, but the bottom line is that it pays (literally) to have friends (and former colleagues) in high government and regulatory places and if you're still having trouble understanding how it's possible that the same people who Plaxico'd themselves in 2008 and plunged the world into the worst recession since 1930 could possibly be allowed to not only remain out of jail but accumulate obscene fortunes on the back of the humble taxpayer well, "that's why [Lloyd Blankfein] is richer than you."