Morning Coffee: “Shock” about big banker bonuses. J.P. Morgan legal heavyweight departs

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Never mind the fact that Henry M. Paulson had worked as chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, a role which would have paid very handsomely, he was shocked at the scale of bonuses bankers paid themselves after being bailed out by the government in 2008.

“There was such a total lack of awareness from the firms that paid big bonuses during this extraordinary time,” he told Dealbook. This may seem a pretty obvious statement, but it’s the first time that he’s been so outspoken, and so critical, of the banks and says it was the main reason that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was such a hard sell to the American public.

“To say I was disappointed is an understatement,” he said. “My view has nothing to do with legality and everything to do with what was right, and everything to do with just a colossal lack of self-awareness as to how they were viewed by the American public.”

Separately, Michael Coyne, one of J.P. Morgan’s top litigators who worked at the bank for 21 years, has is leaving to become general counsel for UnionBanCal Corp. Coyne is responsible for all J.P. Morgan’s litigation and government investigations and his departure at a time when the bank has a series of legal headaches will be viewed as very bad timing.


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