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While America Aged

While America Aged

By Roger Lowenstein
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Ear to the Ground

Bailed-Out Bank Execs to Live It Up in Vegas

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Posted on Feb 3, 2009
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entertainoz.com.au

Your tax dollars at work: Wells Fargo is setting this year’s conference for mortgage officers in Las Vegas.

What’s a bunch of Wells Fargo bigwigs to do now that their struggling bank has gotten a whopping $25 billion from the federal government? Two words: Vegas, baby.

Update: The trip is off. After defending the event to an outraged public, the bank, which lost 2.55 billion last quarter, canceled the junket.

AP via Google News:

Wells Fargo, once among the nation’s top writers of subprime mortgages, has booked 12 nights at the Wynn Las Vegas and its sister hotel, the Encore Las Vegas beginning Friday, said Wynn spokeswoman Michelle Loosbrock. The hotels will host the annual conference for company’s top mortgage officers.

The conference is a Wells Fargo tradition. Previous years have included all-expense-paid helicopter rides, wine tasting, horseback riding in Puerto Rico and a private Jimmy Buffett concert in the Bahamas for more than 1,000 employees and guests.

“I was amazed with just how lavish it was,” said Debra Rickard, a former Wells Fargo mortgage employee from Colorado who attended the events regularly until she left the company in 2004. “We stayed in top hotels, the entertainment was just unbelievable, and there were awards — you got plaques or trophies.”

While the nation’s recession has led other banks, such as Bank of America, to cancel employee recognition outings, Wells Fargo has not.

“Recognition events are still part of our culture,” spokeswoman Melissa Murray said. “It’s really important that our team members are still valued and recognized.”

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By michael roloff, February 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Wells Fargo didn’t need TARP’s 25 Bs why did they take it then??? Of course they should celebrate, celebrate like crazy , they’ve just gotten away with murder!

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Eric L. Prentis's avatar

By Eric L. Prentis, February 4, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Business as usual! Bankers/politicians stuffed with money, taxpayers get the bill, everyone’s happy, right?

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By hippy pam, February 4, 2009 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

Their rationale???...When you have such GREAT EXECS-YOU WANT/NEED TO SHOW THEM HOW MUCH THEY ARE APPRECIATED….

My QUESTION…..If they are so FUC*ING GREAT!!?????
WH ARE WE IN THIS MESS????
FIRE THESE PR*C*S and get some one in there who ISN’T TRYING TO RIP US OFF….

Also-find a credit union-move your money there-
Let’s put WELLS FARGO OUT OF BUSINESS…...

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By felicity, February 4, 2009 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

When challenged on the WF decision to go ahead with its splish-splash in Vegas, its spokesman said, “We won’t pay for it with bailout money.” That may make perfect sense to WF, but for the rest of us it only confirms just how out of touch with reality these guys are.

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By get real, February 4, 2009 at 5:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you want employee recognition and
reward give them a trophy or certificate
in the office with a cake from Wal-Mart
like the rest of us. An ordinary person
cannot go to the bank to borrow $2,000.00
without baring their soul, yet these banks
who have mismanaged millions or billions
are given more to mismanage without regard
to how it is spent. Welcome to Corporate
America.

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Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, February 4, 2009 at 12:19 am Link to this comment

Is this statement just too much or what…. “The conference is a Wells Fargo “tradition”.”

Interesting choice of words.  “Tradition”.... hmmmmm.

So are we “all” good then…?  Cause us peasants have a “tradition” too.  Ours… albeit, DOES require us to drag our rump over to the barn (AGAIN…..gasp.), grab up the ol’ pitchfork and prod their sorry asses BACK IN THE BARN!

And the ironic part about this is….. probably they invested in the damn things. (knowin’ it was coming an’ all)  Whoops…  The cat’s out of the bag on the next best investment opportunity.

Have at er’ you swine but be wary the pitchfork.  It don’t make no never mind to the most of us, if’n it’s the pitchfork or the spit.  You betcha…

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LostHills's avatar

By LostHills, February 4, 2009 at 12:06 am Link to this comment

Your tax dollars at work….

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By The Rude Bellman, February 3, 2009 at 8:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Maybe I’m missing something here but somebody needs to stimulate the service sector of the economy and if it’s not going to be these guys, then who is it going to be? 

Bellhops, maids, dealers and strippers were counting on that money these trips were going to provide.  Are those working people not worthy of a little economic stimulus or would you rather they just go on unemployment?

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By Henry09, February 3, 2009 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

China continues to bail out the US economy and government as it continues to give us loans.

Would everyone here like it if China suddenly started dictating to us how money could be spent in our own country?

Wells Fargo would’ve survived without the TARP funding. And TARP funds weren’t going to be used for this conference anyway. This is a displacement of blame and guilt.

But Wells Fargo were fools for taking TARP money in the first place and weak for not rejecting lame duck Hank Paulson. And they’re weak for apologizing for this. This is not like AIG.

That said, the economy is never going to recover if top employees are not rewarded for doing a good job and if other employees are not given incentives to do better.

Also, what about the workers of Las Vegas? Do any of you realize how much Vegas depends on this sort of corporate activity?

As a former Wells Fargo employee, I can tell everyone here that their lending and credit policies were not “too risky” and sub-prime was actually a small part of their mortgage division. Once again, they would’ve and can survive without the government loan.

This is a distraction. Your main culprit in this whole mess is your government and the Federal Reserve.

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By Peter, February 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wells Fargo was as of a few months ago listed as one of the 10 most stable banks in the world, of course that changes by the day, aren’t all US banks getting a piece of the bailout. If the federal government is giving them money even though they are fine should the issue be with the government and not the bank? As to the posters bailout “struggling’ bank he should fact check that before they post.

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By Bertil, February 3, 2009 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment

Who Knew Bankers Were This Stupid? says Eugene Robinson.

Well, let’s see, they’re the ones with $700 billion.  They’re the ones buying jets, having parties in California resorts, hunting trips in England, and 10 days on Las Vegas. Mmmmmm, stupid?

Obama’s paying lip service to feign indignation while Geithner looks on barely able to keep a straight face with his George W.’ smirk, says that they think we’re the ones who are stupid. 
The banks paid excessive bonus to “maintain the good help.”  Can you imagine that?  You lead a bank, its investors over a cliff right into a ditch, and it’s beginning to look like the whole damn country is going down, and they want to hang on to you. 
Where can I apply for one of those jobs.  There must be millions of people who could fuck things up at least this bad, and they’re out of work.

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By Henry09, February 3, 2009 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

It’s worth mentioning WF was initially resisting bailout money… fear of articles like this probably being one reason why and another being they were in better shape than other banks.

When TARP was being passed Paulson brought together the banks and basically gave them a “deal they couldn’t refuse”. Wells and other banks that were still in good shape didn’t have much of a choice, they pretty much HAD to take the TARP money.

Where Wells really did benefit was in the Wachovia deal… they struck an agreement with regulators and politicians that gave Wells a huge tax break for acquiring a failed firm like Wachovia.

So that’s where perhaps the criticism should be, tax break for an M&A of a wasted company basically brokered by Democrats and Republicans… Wells could give back the TARP money tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect them too much and these kinds of conferences would continue.

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skulz fontaine's avatar

By skulz fontaine, February 3, 2009 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

One word, guillotine. Set one up on the National Mall and ‘accountability chop’ the entire corrupt greedy lot of them. America could do worse than to follow the lead of China in dealing with corporate types that flaunt law. Excise them.

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By purplewolf, February 3, 2009 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

What happens in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas this time.

Tradition be damned. If they can afford this, the $25 billion should be paid all back with interest, as it is obvious that these liars didn’t need it in the first place. Too much!

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