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August 9, 2013 5:08 AM Age: 7 yrs

Fabrice Tourre: Poster Boy for the Great Recession

Category: Larry Checco
Source:  Larry Checco

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At last!   The Securities and Exchange Commission is offering us a poster boy, someone symbolic of all that went wrong leading up to the Great Recession.

And that someone is none other than former Goldman Sachs trader, Fabrice Tourre, better known in some circles as the “Fabulous Fab.”

Tourre says he grew up in a small French town, his father a furniture salesman, his mother a pedicurist. 

In 2007, at the ripe old age of 28, this small-town Frenchman earned US$1.7 million in salary and bonuses for hoodwinking investors into a US$1 billion synthetic collateralized debt obligations deal that was secretly designed to fail. 

If you’ve read this far into the column, I’m sure you’re familiar with the details of the case. 

My point is that the SEC is acting as though they hauled in a shark when all they really got was a remora, often referred to as a suckerfish, a relatively small fish that attaches itself to a host species—including sharks—using the host for transport and protection.  Remoras also feed on materials dropped by the host. 

That about describes Tourre, who claims Goldman paid him his base salary of $738,000 after he was put on leave after the SEC filed suit in 2010.  Goldman settled the charge with a $550 million fine and covered Tourre’s legal fees.

(And to think that in Wisconsin, teachers, who we entrust our beloved children to for six or more hours a day, are being excoriated for making $50,000 or $60,000 a year!)

The sad fact is that there were (are) thousands out there like Tourre, young, bright men and women who harbor more blind ambition than wisdom or morals. Whether true or not, when would a mature, grown professional email his girlfriend that he sold worthless bonds “to widows and orphans” who he ran into in a European airport, as Tourre did? 

Maybe every vainglorious knucklehead on Wall Street.  I don’t know.

In short, with Tourre, all the SEC landed was a punk now-thirtysomething who is going to be made to pay for his youthful greed, conceit and hubris while the bigger man-eating sharks are allowed to continue to ply the waters for more victims.

Tourre is just the very tippity top of the iceberg.  If anything he is a victim of a culture that incentivizes his kind of amoral behavior.  I almost feel sorry for the guy, but I can’t quite bring myself to it when I think of the millions of Americans who have suffered as a result of the toxic, dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all culture we’ve allowed to flourish on Wall Street

Our financial industry doesn’t need more regulation.  I think it needs to be put in a stranglehold until it comes to its senses and begins to understand the rippling impact its often less than ethical behavior wreaks on the rest of us.

If Tourre, in his emails to his then girlfriend, offered a scintilla of truth it’s when he wrote “...there is nothing fabulous abt (sic) me….”

That about sums it up for many of the folks on Wall Street.  They just think they’re special—and they have many of us believing the same thing. 

Hey - money has that kind of influence and power!

Contents (C) Larry Checco 2013 - All Rights Reserved

Larry Checco is president of Checco Communications.  His latest book is entitled Aha! Moments in Brand Management: Commonsense Insights to a Stronger, Healthier Brand.  Checco Communications is a consulting firm that specializes in branding.  It helps organizations clearly define who they are, what they do, how they do it and, most importantly, why anyone should care enough to support them. Where most branding professionals focus on making sure an organization has an attractive logo, catchy tagline and perhaps a marketing plan, Larry’s take is different.  His message is that good branding is far less about marketing, advertising and public relations and far more about quality leadership and staff, appropriate and ethical behavior, and an organization’s willingness, ability and commitment to live up to the promises, or covenant, its brand represents. His first book, Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization, has sold thousands of copies worldwide. Click here for full bio.


Published by: Corporate Governance & Accountability Advisors, Inc. Content & Concepts ©2008 by CG&AA, Inc. All rights reserved