John Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch, one of the large banks that was rescued with a taxpayer-subsidized sale, decided early last year (pre-bailout) that he needed a redecorated office to
entertain his buddies/ hide his mistress/ contemplate why his bank was collapsing ah, it doesn’t matter. The cost to the company: a mere $1.22 million, pocket change for a CEO, I guess.
Here’s the news story http://www.cnbc.com/id/28793892 and the internal budget document (pdf file) with an itemization of all the goodies. Some of the outstanding ones: a $1,404 garbage can, four pairs of curtains for $28,090, $3,916.45 worth of light bulbs and extension cords and $15,122.68 for “miscellaneous” items. The interior designer for this critical project, Michael Smith, made out like a bandit too with his fee: $800,000.
I’m sure it’s good policy for companies to spend lavishly on their CEO’s. And I’m sure that there is some good reason that a trash can might cost $1,400. And I’m sure that $800,000 is a reasonable fee for an interior decorator. I mean, these executives have complicated, stressful jobs strategizing and leveraging and all that. They deserve a $16,000 custom coffee table and $3,500 worth of bathroom accessories.
As someone at the other end of the spectrum (I’m unemployed and can’t pay my rent) it’s certainly clear that money has a different value to different people. To some people $15,000 means “miscellaneous” items, to me, it means a warm, dry roof over my head for a year.