Should John Mack be forgoing a little more than his bonus?
A quick rehash: Morgan Stanley’s Q4 EPS loss of $3.61 was so far off consensus estimates of $0.39 as to make the firm almost unrecognizable from the one analysts thought they had under the microscope.
Write-downs are now $9.4bn, slightly higher than the latest revelations for Merrill, and on a par with those for Citigroup.
Mack’s done the decent thing and relinquished his bonus while pointing the finger at “isolated losses in a small trading team”.
But the case against Mack himself is compelling. After all, he:
· encouraged the firm to move further into the mortgage market (according to Financial News), after describing the bank as “under-represented” in the area back in 2005.
· pushed Morgan Stanley to move further into prop trading and (according to the Wall Street Journal) accused its trades of “losing their swagger”.
· didn’t keep a handle on risk and (again according to the Wall Street Journal) allowed the now deposed co-president Zoe Cruz to ride roughshod over “key decision makers involved in vetting mortgage trades” (AKA risk professionals).
Not everyone thinks it’s Mack’s fault. Chief financial officer Colm Kelleher expressed “total conviction” about Mack, who he also said was the man to lead MS out of its little “hiccup”.
Mack-attack? Or Mack smack-on-the-hand-and-do-better-next-time? Let us know what you think.