A reader reports that despite losing just over $2 billion in the third quarter on revenues of $9.6 billion and projecting fourth quarter results “not effectively better” , Freddie Mac nevertheless thought it fit to host a lavish celebration. As our reader described it:
To celebrate, they threw a decadent holiday party at the Ritz Carlton in exclusive McLean, VA. They had a laser printer that printed pictures on chocolate lollipops for the kids, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment. You’d think it was the Goldman Sachs partners dinner. Alas, it was a Government Sponsored Enterprise pissing away money right before they’re going to need a taxpayer bailout.
Click photo for larger image:
westwest888 sent that to me, too. I did not reply to the email, because it was early this morning and I have no control over my contempt at that hour.
Sorry, Yves, but I think this is just so wrong on so many levels. This is an employee holiday party. So sure, they could have held it at the Day’s Inn and given the kiddies a tootsie pop. (Graeme Frost’s parents could have settled for formica counters, too!) But nooo, we have to get out the pitchforks because it was the Ritz-Carlton and the kiddies got the cool lollipops. How much do you think this actually cost? If we reduced the $2 billion by the cost of the Christmas party, would that make everyone happy?
This is the kind of panty-sniffing of “government employees” that just makes my skin crawl. It always starts in times of economic distress, as the “politics of resentment” crowd whip up a furor over “wastefulness” of “our” money.
I wasn’t at that party, and lord knows if I had been I might have questioned its tastefulness. But the implication here isn’t just that Freddie might have spent too much on a holiday party; the implication is that there should have been no party given the $2 billion losses. (Hint: they didn’t throw the party to celebrate the losses. They threw the party because it’s Christmas, and Christmas parties for your employees are not unheard of in this country.)
Next thing you know someone will be crawling around Freddie Mac’s headquarters to see if any of the employees are carrying Starbucks cups, instead of the 7-Eleven coffee that government employees should be drinking. Harrumph.
Let’s not go there. The politics of putting other people on an “austerity budget” are always a reactionary mess.
Tanta got there before me, and with more eloquence than I could muster. Just two additions:
“in EXCLUSIVE McLean”??!! Puh-leaze! – It’s a nice suburb, period. Exclusive would be Georgetown, maybe.
“a DECADENT party…” Hah!!! From 4:00 to 7:00, on a week night!!! Hoo-hah, that’s some decadence. I’ll bet there was a vomitorium.
Trust me, Goldman Sachs will throw a bash that makes this look like polka night in Wauwatosa.
Tanta might be a little more upset if he realized that Freddie Mac also paid to have an ice sculpture of Dennis Koslowski in a toga at that very same party. I left before the archers got there.
I do not have a problem with this. Please, it is Christmas. What I do have a problem with is the 17000% pay differential between the receptionist and the CEO. If you want to sniff get some docs that show the salary differences/ bonuses between staff and mgmt levels and CEO/CMO/CFOs.
Do people really think that Freddie is headed for a bailout?? Is it that grim over there?
It’s not decadent, but probably in bad taste. Would the melting statue be some kind of portent for the unfortunate fellow? As for goldman, who knows, maybe they’ll do one that’s one up on Blackstone’s founder’s bash earlier this year!
Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but I started out on Wall Street when its parties were modest affairs precisely because a) the firms were partnerships and they were spending their own money and b) spending a lot of money on parties was deemed inappropriate because it would be rubbing clients’ noses in how much money you made. Of course, now people flaunt how much money they make.
It also appears that this was a 4-7 party for parents with kids, so this apparently was one of many parties. Again, Freddie may well have booked the space well in advance and couldn’t get out (but there is so much demand for party space at holiday time, plus they likely have leverage at this Ritz), but a family party at a high end corporate facility is a lot more costly than necessary. “Decadent” may have been over the top, but party with kids at the Ritz? Sorry, that is lavish.
Maybe it’s different in DC, but I don’t know of a single New York firm that has a special holiday party (clearly in addition to other parties like the regular office party) for families to begin with. I know of ones that have weekend events for families in the summer, or “bring the kids to the office” day where the firms provide amusement and treats and the single people quietly get migraines.
And again, in my day, firms WOULD substantially scale back holiday parties if they were doing badly. Everyone was acutely aware that any money spent on parties would need to come from somewhere, and that somewhere was often firing a few extra people. I’d rather keep the guy down the hall employed and have punch in the office, but gee, I guess I have my priorities backwards.
I’m a bit more pissed that Goldman Sachs is giving its employees 20 B Usd in bonuses, and then expecting the U.S. taxpayer to bail out the banking system next year.
Agreed that the symbolism of that is even worse, but the reason Freddie caught my attention is that it points to a bigger question: what are our priorities, both for businesses and society? Goldman paying all those bonuses is unseemly (couldn’t they have found a way to defer or finesse it so they didn’t show such large current year bonuses)? Freddie going ahead with its parties is weird “business as usual” behavior when they really ought to be doing things on all levels to say business is NOT as usual. People need to be shaken out of their complacency.