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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Is this the trader responsible for $150 oil?

Citibank commodities trader Andrew J. Hall has suddenly appeared as a massive blip on the radar as news spreads of the banker bonus to top all bonuses. Mr. Hall, the 58-year-old head of Citigroup owned Phibro, a small commodities trading firm in Westport, Conn is due a $100 Million payday as a result of his efforts in the oil market.

The US Treasury Department’s czar of executive pay has the unenviable task of having to deal with these ridiculously greedy bankers with their snouts in the trough. In the same year Citi put it's hand out for $45 Billion in public aid to save itself from it's own recklessness, one of the leading players in the inflationary run up that causes the meltdown expects to talk his way into claiming his supposedly contracted payout for doing such a good job of putting the squeeze on the global economy.

Reading this guys profile is like the story of a real life Gordon Gekko on steroids. According to securities filings Mr. Hall's compensation has totaled well over a quarter-billion dollars over the past five years. He owns a 1,000 year old Castle in Germany just to house his $100 Million art collection.

Citi already has a solid track record of being a central player in just about every record breaking financial meltdown in the last decade, from Worldcomm, Enron to sub-primes and, of course, the oil market. Citi in fact have set all time records for the Billions in fines paid to the SEC for getting caught over and over again blatantly breaking securities laws, yet somehow dispite such corrupt behaviour the show goes on.

We will now have to tolerate a stream of boot licking media commentators who argue the fact that Citi are contractually obligated to pay, conveniently forgetting the fact Citi are technically bankrupt and the US Government now owns 34% of them. Citi stock is such a bad bet they couldn't sell their stock to anyone but the US government on the logic that a large bank failure would spread 'panic'. How about the government bailout spreading 'disgust'? Without a lazy $45 Billion injection there would be zero discussion about the entire pay subject. These guys are living on welfare!

They can talk about a profitable division needing reward all they want, it's owned by a company that is broke, he has to cop a loss like the rest of the world. The standard Wall Street line that this Brit will take his bat and ball somewhere else is getting extremely tired too. He's not going to earn that kind of money elsewhere because, as a direct result of him being so good at his job, the bottom has quite literally fallen out of the oil market. This bloke started his career at BP and is an oil specialist. He is effectively unemployable till the next oil squeeze play generates a peak which, with the global push for renewables, may never happen.

For sure he's not the only commodity trader who reached billionaire status manipulating oil supply but I guess we can all thank Hall for helping to speed the transition to EVs. Unfortunately we may not have heard the last of him even once oil dependency has been broken as this commodity leach has twice in the past decade assembled big stockpiles of rhodium, a rare metal used in catalytic converters, and extorted the market to make 10x his money each time. Lets hope he doesn't get the opportunity to exploit lithium supplies to keep him in the manner to which he has become accustomed.

If Andrew J. Hall takes this to court insisting on his $100 Million payment perhaps his just reward should be payment in Citi stock. It's only sunk from an all time high of $57 less than 3 years ago to $4 today, up from it's all time low of $0.97 in March, which was a drop of 95.56% from the same period last year. There's nothing as just as aligning pay with performance, like in the real world!


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pp said...

You sound bitter. So your argument is that he has a legal contract, but Citi "techincally" went backrupt? Maybe Citi had their fingers crossed behind their backs when they signed the contract and they will not have to honor it in the 3rd grade court?

BTW, he lives/works in CT. In CT if your company does not honor your contract, you can sue for 3X the amount.

tsport100 said...

You're obviously in favor of having the basic cost of living extorted by speculators. 30% annual energy price swings that feed into the highest inflation in 17 years that then set off a recession! That's brilliant policy! Job well done, let's have Citi give that man a taxpayer funded bonus!

What sort of 'fat cat' law is that anyways LOL. Let him sue, it might set a precedent for these idiots!

A $45 Billion taxpayer funded federal bail out says there's nothing 'technical' about their insolvency! If there wasn't a bailout we wouldn't be having this discussion.

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