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    « William the Goose and his Gaggle | Main | Richard Severin Fuld, Jr. »
    Saturday
    Jan102009

    Robert E. Rubin

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/10/business/10rubin.html?_r=1

    It is with great sadness and a profound sense of loss that we must acknowledge the reputational departure from this world of Robert E. Rubin, the former Co-head of Goldman Sachs who made his mark across the globe by serving as a terribly competent Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration. One of the brightest and soft spoken masters of the universe he was endowed with an ethical mind and moral compass and was devoted to free market principles but willing to wield the mighty financial sword of the US several times during his watch including the Mexican Peso Crisis and most notably during what had hither been "the big one" (the 1998 Asian Flu/Russian Currency crisis and collapse of Long Term Capital Management). The 1998 "big one" now has been exponentially surpassed by the 2008 "big, big one".

    Mr. Rubin was, undeniably, at the strategic helm of the world's largest "too big to fail" institution during the most reckless period of asset accumulation in history. If he wasn't the commander he was at least pounding the drum on the warship as the enslaved oarsmen below deck rowed at ramming speed He was in a position to know better and seemed to encounter an ultimately terminal case of osteoporosis of personal credibility by growing smaller in stature just like Benjamin Button grew smaller in size. Rubin was just as asleep at the switch as everyone else. His credibility as a maven inducing a false sense of security for the investment community: "hell, Bob Rubin's on the job and must be watching this thing like a hawk."Apparently he wasn't.

    His refusal to accept any responsibility during his end-of-days television interviews (even though he had been paid $40 million to serve as Citi's Chairman of the Executive Committee) and his rather incredulous exculpatory claim of delegation to the company's risk managers did not play well with just anybody with a double digit IQ. Rubin and Citi received the biggest bailout in history from his former Goldman Sachs colleague Hank "the financial village idiot" Paulson who was taunting "mission accomplished" and restoration of financial stability. Paulson publicly stated on CNBC on November 15, 2008 that "no one goes to bed in this country today worrying about the next financial institution to fail". Paulson was right (for about four days) and then threw a $300 billion plus lifeline on top of nearly $45 billion in direct federal financial assistance.

    Rubin resigned as Chairman of the Executive Committee on January 9, 2009 ultimately accepting responsibility (like a real man) for overseeing a 90% decline in the Citigroup stock price. He did not return any of the money he had been paid. The true loss to this nation is the loss of confidence in a once highly respected figure. If Bob Rubin didn't have a clue what was going on what does that say about all of the other less talented bozos at this country's financial institutions. The final lesson from the Rubin departure may be that while some institutions may be "too big to fail" perhaps most of our institutions have become "too big to succeed". Caveat Emptor.

    Resignation Letter

    The following is the text of Mr. Rubin's letter to Citi: http://www.citigroup.com/citi/press/2009/090109d.htm

    Departure Articles

    Rubin ends tenure at Bank (Washington Post): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/09/AR2009010903708.html?hpid=topnews

    "My great regret is that I and so many of us who have been involved in this industry for so long did not recognize the serious possibility of the extreme circumstances that the financial industry faces today," Rubin wrote.

    Rubin, also a Citigroup director, said he would not stand for reelection at the company's next annual meeting.

    Rubin Departs Citi on a Low Note (Wall Street Journal): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123154640085069809.html?mod=googlenews_wsj


    Rubin, Under Fire, Defends His Role at Citi

    By Ken Brown and David Enrich

    November 29, 2008

    Under fire for his role in the near-collapse of Citigroup Inc., Robert Rubin said its problems were due to the buckling financial system, not its own mistakes, and that his role was peripheral to the bank's main operations even though he was one of its highest-paid officials.

    "Nobody was prepared for this," Mr. Rubin said in an interview. He cited former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as another example of someone whose reputation has been unfairly damaged by the crisis.

    Mr. Rubin, senior counselor and a director at Citigroup, acknowledged that he was involved in a board decision to ramp up risk-taking in 2004 and 2005, even though he was warning publicly that investors were taking too much risk. He said if executives had executed the plan properly, the bank's losses would have been less.

    Its troubles have put the former Treasury secretary in the awkward position of having to justify $115 million in pay since 1999, excluding stock options, while explaining Citigroup's $20 billion in losses over the past year and a government bailout of at least $45 billion.

    Read Full Article at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122791795940965645.html

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