Tag Archive: Goldman Sachs


A “memorable” $211,703 Porsche or Land Rover?

A “visible” $86,423 Rolex?

And let’s not forget the applicable taxes on these two giveaways: $179,977 and $38,005 respectively.

For those scoring at home, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) provided $516,108 in goodies to one man: newly minted co-CEO Keith Block, 57.

The Salesforce.com Compensation Committee justified the corporate largesse in its proxy statement filing:

“In this case, the committee approved this award because it believed that recognizing Mr. Block’s leadership and success in achieving company goals was warranted, and that doing so in a memorable and visible way would be motivational not only for the executive, but for other employees who observe exceptional performance being rewarded in exceptional ways consistent with the company’s philosophy of paying for performance.”

Paying for exceptional performance?

Does Block walk on water? Does he change water into wine? Does he dole out loaves and fishes to feed the hungry?

Before being named co-CEO last August, Block was already earning $2.3 million annually in salary and bonuses (not including stock option exercises) as the company’s vice chairman, president and chief operating officer.

Almost DailyBrett extensively researched and taught the relationship between fiduciary responsibility (doing well) and corporate social responsibility (doing good) as a master’s student at University of Oregon and later as a PR professor at Central Washington University.

Your author also served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic (NYSE: LSI) for a decade including preparing 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K news releases and regulatory filings for financial media and the SEC.

More to the point, Almost DailyBrett is a long-time Republican, free-enterprise supporter, and up-to-now a more than satisfied shareholder of Salesforce.com founded by fellow USC alum Marc Benioff.

Let’s state here and now: giving away a cool car and groovy watch (plus paying related income taxes for these two goodies) is inconsistent with Salesforce’s fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders … including not trying to be SaaS-see,  yours truly.

God help the company’s corporate PR department.

Ready to make chicken salad out of chicken feces?

How do you defend the indefensible? How do you stand-up on behalf of the untenable? Did the Compensation Committee discuss its decision with the PR types before giving away a Porsche and a Rolex to Monsieur Block?

And where is Salesforce.com located? San Francisco.

Do you think Bernie, Kamala or Elizabeth supporters residing in the Sodom and Gomorrah by the Bay are going to seize about this outrageous caper as an example about everything wrong with corporate America?

Occupy Salesforce?

Publicly traded corporations (e.g., Salesforce) provide the products we need (e.g., enterprise software), employ millions (e.g., CRM, 29,000) and provide a return on capital to millions investing in their retirement, health care or children’s education.

Buy-side (i.e., mutual funds, retirement systems) and sell-side (i.e. Goldman, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley) institutions hold 82 percent of Salesforce’s 774 million shares outstanding.

In contrast, Almost DailyBrett is a lowly Charles Schwab retail investor with 300 shares.

If your author threatened to sell all of his shares because he is upset by the Keith Block giveaways, would company even notice, let alone care?

Heck, your author’s holding is a friggin’ corporate rounding error.

Salesforce has demonstrated by its regulatory filing temerity, it really doesn’t take fiscal stewardship and fiduciary responsibility seriously.

Actions speak louder than words. The perception and reality both stink.

No carefully massaged explanation and no amount of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – including calling for local tax increases to take care of the homeless – are going to change the undeniable fact that giving away a luxury car, a costly watch and paying the related taxes for one lousy executive … is wrong.

Dead wrong to be precise.

Almost DailyBrett editor’s note: According to Business Insider, the company did not disclose the exact make or model of Keith Block’s new car and watch. However, an educated guesstimate was made by the digital publication based upon the disclosed sales prices and related tax payments for the two luxury items. If the company actually bought Block a Lamborghini instead of a Porsche, your author will accept personal responsibility for the egregious mistake.

https://www.businessinsider.com/salesforce-ceo-keith-block-car-watch-2019-4

https://www1.salary.com/Keith-Block-Salary-Bonus-Stock-Options-for-SALESFORCE-COM-INC.html

https://www.salesforce.com/company/leadership/bios/bio-block/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

 

 

 

“(The intent of the Tax Wall Street Act is to) drive leeches that are front running the market out of business.” – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) on CNBC

Is the Eugene, Oregon-based author of Almost DailyBrett, a lecherous leech?

Your author builds a career. Your author works all of his life. Your author pays his fair share of taxes. Your author chooses the time (2018) and place for his retirement (Eugene).

Sounds good, but …

My congressman, Mr. DeFazio, wants to double tax everyone’s retirement with a 0.1 percent tax on every stock or mutual fund trade we will ever make as long-term investors, conceivably until it’s time to meet our respective makers.

Ostensibly, DeFazio’s tax targets high-frequency/high-velocity investors, many disguised as algorithms. The only problem is his sweeping tax also applies to millions of real middle-class people … including retail investors residing in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District.

All they want to do is invest their already taxed discretionary income to fund their retirement, pay for their children’s education (e.g., University of Oregon) and maybe to pursue their dreams. Alas, Rep. DeFazio has introduced the “Tax Wall Street Act of 2019” with its punitive stock and mutual fund trade tax.

Mr. Congressman, my family is not Wall Street in Manhattan. We are East of Willamette Street in Eugene.

The honorable congressman thinks he is punishing Wall Street, when he instead is taking dead aim at America’s investor class or the 52 percent of Americans (approximately 170 million), who invest in individual stocks or mutual funds.

Many of these mutual fund investment trades are made by pension managers and by individual employee managed 401Ks at work (e.g., public employees, including school teachers). Almost DailyBrett maintains a humble retail account with Charles Schwab. Sorry, no Goldman Sachs for me.

Why are you (DeFazio) sticking a Wall Street tax on all investors who live in your district, and any other investor in every congressional district across the fruited plain?

DeFazio’s Dithering Performance on CNBC

CNBC’s Kelly Evans asked you point blank on “The Exchange” last week why you didn’t “target” high-velocity algorithmic day traders instead of proposing a sweeping tax, which applies to every middle-class investor in the country.

You dithered, Congressman DeFazio. You know, you did.

When Evans inquired about the use of the projected $777 billion in additional revenues, you suggested restoring some of the expanding deficit triggered by tax reform. Congressman DeFazio didn’t know where and how the money will be spent. He only wanted to sock-it to Wall Street and with it, middle-class investors.

Maybe, you should Occupy Wall Street? How did that movement work out?

Fortunately, there are enough adults in the House of Representatives and certainly in the U.S. Senate to ensure this bill goes absolutely nowhere.

Having made this point, the coast is not clear. The mindset of my congressman and his partner in crime, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and without a doubt many others in positions of immense power, indicates an antipathy to all publicly traded companies (none of which are headquartered in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District).

Every issue large and small seemingly requires the same remedy: a new tax.

Congressman DeFazio, you need to understand that middle-class retirees in your district have already been taxed on their nest eggs. Under your plan, each-and-every-one of your investing constituents will pay an additional tax just for the right to continue to invest their hard-earned money on their futures.

You know you are wrong, but you will piously insist you are right … err correct.

Almost DailyBrett has never been a “high-velocity” trader and never will be.

Just hoping to keep up my velocity for years to come.

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/03/08/rep-peter-defazio-on-the-tax-wall-street-act.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/wall-street-tax-act-financial-illiteracy-in-congress/

https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/its-premature-to-start-freaking-out-over-the-wall-street-tax-act-liz-ann-sonders

http://investsnips.com/publicly-traded-companies-in-oregon/

 

 

 

 

“We lost because of Clinton Inc. The reality is Clinton Inc. was great for her (Hillary) for years she had all the institutional benefits. But it was an albatross around the campaign.” – Clinton advisor/friend to the authors of “Shattered.”

“I love Hillary. I think she has a right to analyze what happened. But we do have to move on.” – Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota)

Is it smart personal public relations for Hillary Clinton to write “What Happened,” an angry tome about her unfortunate 2016 campaign?

Think of it this way: Is there a PR and marketing counselor on this planet, who would have the gravitas to talk her out of writing a book, way too many will regard as “boo-hoo-hoo”?

More to the point: Would the Clintons actually listen?

Your author can’t remember a general election loser of a modern era presidential campaign writing a here’s-what-went-wrong book so soon after a bitter defeat.

Jimmy Carter wrote “Keeping Faith” in 1982 and Barry Goldwater penned “With No Apologies” in 1979. Both were memoirs.

Undoubtedly “What Happened” debuting today will become an instant New York Times best seller, directly benefitting the Clinton family fortunes … but there lies a key problem.

 

Almost DailyBrett believes Hillary could provide mentorship to candidates who follow, if she would publicly acknowledge her own critical mistakes: setting up her own personal server, putting her name on the masthead of the Clinton Foundation, giving three speeches at $225,000 each to Goldman Sachs, not addressing the woes of millions in the fly-over states, and essentially having no overriding message to justify her candidacy.

Behaving as if the presidency is simply my turn underestimates the collective intelligence of the electorate, especially tens of thousands who feel left behind, disdained and betrayed.

Let’s face it, Hillary’s “Stronger Together” campaign motto will not make historians forget Kennedy’s “New Frontiers,” Reagan’s “Morning in America” or more to the point, Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”

She spent way too much time in safe coastal enclaves with Katy Perry and Bruce Springsteen, and cancelled her only general election campaign stop to Wisconsin. Instead of tailoring her message to address the growing electoral populism, she repeatedly railed against the character deficiencies of Donald Trump.

The only problem with that approach is you can’t beat someone with no-one. Where was the alternative?

Pointing Fingers

“We owe him (Trump) an open mind and the chance to lead.” – Hillary Clinton, November 9, 2016

Political journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes were given access to the Clinton campaign operations with the anticipation of a book, intended to provide chapter and verse about Hillary Clinton’s historic breaking of the greatest remaining glass ceiling of them all.

Instead,“Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” provided a  radically different story, the biggest political upset in American history.

Hillary said all the right things in speaking to her millions of supporters the morning after, but reportedly was angry in her follow-up conversations with friends and compatriots.

Almost DailyBrett thrives on political campaign books, and will read this one as well. One would hope there would be more self-reflection, acknowledgement and taking personal responsibility by Hillary for what went wrong.

One anticipates the book will bore into the FBI (Comey), KGB (Putin), KKK (Trump). We already know from early reports about the book that Hillary takes particular aim at Bernie Sanders, who she does regard as a Democrat. Looking back to last year, Sanders tapped the mood of the electorate when he said the system was “corrupt.” Trump talked about a “rigged” America to the detriment of the lunch-pail crowd with high-school diplomas.

They vote too.

Hillary offered the status quo, the third-term of Barack Obama.

Personal public relations are the most important of all when it comes to individual branding and reputation. An angry book from an incensed candidate less than one year after a devastating defeat is most likely going to come across as sour grapes.

It will undoubtedly make the Clintons even richer as well her publisher, Simon & Schuster.

But will we be wealthier in our knowledge about what really went wrong with Hillary’s campaign, and why the fireworks were cancelled and the glass ceilings at the Javits Center and most of all, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, are still standing?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/hillary-clintons-what-happened-a-national-monument-to-getting-it-wrong

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-mcmanus-clinton-book-20170910-story.html

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/11/07/books/keeping-the-faith.html?pagewanted=all&mcubz=1

http://www.nytimes.com/1979/11/04/archives/favorite-conservative-goldwater.html?mcubz=1

 

“You can’t foment. You can’t create an impression a stock is down. You do it anyway because the SEC doesn’t understand it.” – Former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Jim Cramer

“Apple is very important to spread the rumor that both Verizon and AT&T have decided they don’t like the phone (iPhone). It’s very easy to do. It’s also easy to spread the rumor the phone is not ready for Macworld.”  — Cramer explaining how shorting hedge-fund managers drive down a company’s stock price through rumor mongering

“I want the Jim Cramer of CNBC (Mad Money host) to protect me from that Jim Cramer (Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager) – Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart

Many of us watched Jon Stewart take apart Jim Cramer on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. The legendary 2009 interview went viral, including Cramer’s bragging about short selling, even among those who do not subscribe to the notion of buying low and selling high.

Here’s a predictable sports metaphor that brings into question the morality of short selling.

Every sports fan knows there are teams that far-too-many of us love to hate (i.e. New England Patriots, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Todgers …). We will happily pop open a cold one and sit in front of the Hi-Def and root against these teams and many others. We want them to lose, and lose big.

Having acknowledged this indisputable fact of life, will we spend our hard-earned money to travel to their respective stadia or watch them on our home team fields, courts, ice rinks solely to indulge in an exercise of Schadenfreude, delighting in their misery when they lose? You are rooting against them and not necessarily for your team.

Don’t we have better things to do with our money and time than negative rooting?

Moving from metaphor to reality, should the cunning few take their discretionary investment dollars and place a trade – a short sell – with the intent of cashing-out based not upon a publicly traded company’s stock rising, but instead losing value for the vast majority of investors and their employees?

Before going any further, Almost DailyBrett must acknowledge that short selling is perfectly legal (it shouldn’t be), but the question remains: Is it moral? Yes, some may be wondering how morality and Wall Street work in tandem. Believe it or not, there is synergy when it comes to investing and morality.

For example, each of America’s 5,900 publicly traded companies on the NYSE or NASDAQ is legally required to practice fiduciary responsibility (don’t glaze over). Translated: Every company is obligated to do the best job possible to drive the top line (revenues) and raise the bottom line (net income or loss).

The beneficiaries of fiduciary responsibility are America’s Investor Class, the 55 percent of our nation that invests in mutual funds, bonds or stocks. When “Wall Street” is attacked, the hopes and dreams of literally millions for a comfortable retirement, their children’s college education, their donations to worthy charities, their once-in-a-lifetime vacations, are under siege as well.

The Big Short

“Stormy weather in Shortville … “— Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweet mocking short sellers

The literally millions of short trades fly directly in the face of the aspirations of middle-class and lower-upper class investors, who realize you can’t finance dreams through negligible bank interest rates and ping-ponging real estate. That’s why they turn En-masse to equities, bonds and mutual funds (e.g., IRAs and 401Ks).

For example, there are those (including the author of Almost DailyBrett) who invest in Elon Musk and Tesla. They are supporting the development of electric cars, ion lithium batteries and solar power, all intended to transport millions and provide energy – all without contributing to climate change.

And yet 31 million of Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) 163.1 million shares are sold short or about $8.46 billion in market capitalization or value that these traders are hoping will simply plunge big time to their greedy benefit.

Alas for them and hooray for the rest of us the Tesla short sellers are taking it in the shorts.

As we saw in the Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, The Big Short, there were cunning and callous short sellers who bet big time – and won – against the U.S. real estate market and thousands of underwater and underperforming mortgages.

They won, while literally hundreds of thousands lost their homes or were trapped in properties they could not afford, thus triggering the Great Recession of 2007-2008.

Almost DailyBrett believes the government regulates enough thank you very much. But should the feds (e.g., SEC, DOJ, FTC) take a long-and-hard look at short selling?

If the goal of the shorts is pure unmitigated greed, while literally hundreds of thousands suffer and see their hopes and dreams dashed, then short selling is not only wrong morally, but it should be frickin’ illegal as well.

http://www.goldmansachs.com/

http://www.biography.com/people/jon-stewart-16242282

http://www.cnbc.com/jim-cramer/

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/gliow5/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–3

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/11/movies/review-in-the-big-short-economic-collapse-for-fun-and-profit.html?_r=0

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-stocks-idUSKBN17522H

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/TSLA/key-statistics?p=TSLA

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly heard the tagline for Head and Shoulders: “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” http://www.headandshoulders.com/en-US/index.jspx

headandshoulders

And in this age of gnat-like attention spans and information overload, the ability to make a positive first impression in 15 seconds or less has never been more vital whether it be attracting that delectable member of the opposite gender (or your own, if you are so inclined), pitching a story to an irritable editor/reporter/blogger or applying for a job to a stressed-out hiring manager. There is no time for beating around the bush; you have to get to the point, pronto.

Just this past week, I was given the flattering opportunity to deliver a PowerPoint presentation on cover letters and resumes to a group of University of Oregon undergraduates. Coming as no surprise, I had their full attention as they are all nervously looking past their upcoming graduation and what will inevitably follow, entering and (hopefully) successfully competing in an incredibly brutal job market.

Without rehashing the entire presentation, here are some of the key points that I humbly advocated to the soon-to-be-entering-the-job-market competition:

● Get to the Point. Find out who is the hiring manager and send an e-mail to this person, don’t just send your cover letter and resume into digital never-never land. Copy and paste your cover letter and attach your resume. Ask for the order immediately in your cover letter. Tell she or he what distinct value you bring to the job and exactly why you want to work for this particular company, non-profit, trade association, PR agency, governmental agency.

● Sweat the details. Check and then double-check your prose. Read your letter and resume out loud. Better yet, ask a colleague to proof it for you. Another pair of eyes is better, particularly a pair of eyes that are more critical than yours. Don’t rely on spell checkers as they will miss the wrong word spelled right (e.g. “their” instead of “there” of vice versa or worse, “pubic” instead of “public”). And at all costs, make sure you do not misspell the hiring manager’s name or the name of the company in your cover letter (worth a one-way ticket to Hell).

● Think Twitter when writing your cover letters and resume. Why Twitter? The answer is that Twitter forces you to communicate in 140 characters or less, and it is amazing in what you can achieve in so few characters (many Baby Boomers have trouble with this concept to their own peril). Your sentences in your cover letter and the phrases in your resume should be short, punchy and direct. The clock is ticking. It is time for your red-zone offense to covert as the time is expiring. www.twitter.com

● Digital is forever. In the corporate world, we used to say that “Digital is discoverable.” Translated: a plaintiff’s attorney in a securities litigation case can demand all the e-mails and electronic memos on a given subject despite the fact that they were deleted. There are no shredding machines for digital content. Virtually all digital is recoverable. The point here is that anything that you do on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr etc., regardless of the friendly intent can and will be found.

● That leads to the next point…Google yourself; they will. What may have been a goofy photo this year with a bong pipe (e.g. Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps) or a topless expression of sexual joy reminiscent of “Girls Gone Wild,” can become an embarrassing incident causing a hiring manager to question your sense of judgment. My point here is to have fun, but don’t make any career limiting decisions while you are still in college or just graduated. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Phelps

phelps

● Speak in their language, not yours. Whether an entity is for profit or not, they are expending a certain amount of capital on someone who is going to bring in unique skills to solve problems. They are looking for a return on investment (ROI). So what are some of the key phrases (hint: ROI is one of them) that they want to hear or their software is going to be searching for? How about: Message Development; Social Media; Search Engine Optimization (SEO); Employee Communications; Crisis Communications; Investor Relations; Media Relations; Analyst Relations; Media Training; Brand Management, Marketing Success, Multi-Media Skills, Presentation Skills and many more. Use these words to your full advantage.

● Don’t just talk-the-talk when it comes to social media; walk-the-walk. Ever wondered why you should start your own blog? Think personal branding and marketing. How about pushing toward 500 connections on LinkedIn? Think networking, networking and networking. How about hundreds of friends on Facebook or thousands of Tweets on Twitter? The reason for all of the above is that companies are inevitably going to figure out how to monetize social media. They need people who embrace this trend. Remember: Social media is not a fad. If you don’t believe me, then ask yourself why Goldman Sachs recently put $500 million into privately held Facebook, started a $1.5 billion hedge fund to invest in the company and why Facebook has an estimated $50 billion market cap. http://www.economist.com/node/17853336

● Seek out the advice of career counselors who know how to unlock the hidden job market, not just the jobs that everyone applies for online. One example is Dennis Thompson of Pleasanton, CA, who wrote “Four Degrees to Your Dream Job.” Think of it this way, you may be much closer via your contacts and friends to an influential decision maker than what you ever thought was possible. Now back to the main point: How are you going to make the best use of your critical 15 seconds to make a lasting first impression? http://fourdegreestoyourdreamjob.blogspot.com/2011/01/should-you-stay.html

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