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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

1. Grasso Put Out to Pasture

Sure, we made fun of him. But we already miss him.

Yes, we at the Five Dumbest Things Research Lab have spent the past few weeks making snide remarks about Dick Grasso's supersized pay package and trapezoidal cranium.

But now that Grasso has stepped down from his post as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, we're suddenly misty-eyed. Not that we were exactly fond of Grasso, but we liked having him around to pick on. Now that he's left the building, there's an empty space in our hearts.

Yes, after Grasso tendered his resignation Wednesday evening, we finally understand how The Washington Post's legendary editorial cartoonist Herb Block felt after Nixon resigned, or how Darth Vader felt after he whacked Obi-Wan Kenobi. A self, in part, is defined by an Other. And one of our Others is gone.

Well, almost gone. Details of Grasso's severance package are no doubt being ironed out as you read this. Which gets us to thinking about one particular event of the past two weeks -- the moment on Sept. 9 when, in an attempt to defuse the outrage sparked by the $139.5 million due Grasso, the NYSE chairman told the board he would forgo an additional $48 million due him.


Good Night, George
This is one less trapezoidal cranium you'll have to polish anymore

Fat lot of good that did him.

Yes, most of us expect that we'll earn some sort of salary in return for showing up at the office. But thanks to Grasso's offer (we've previously conjectured why he made it), Dick Grasso effectively paid a hefty sum just to extend his employment a mere six days.

A hefty sum, indeed. As far as we can decipher from the NYSE's paperwork, some of that $48 million hadn't yet vested, or was due Grasso only if he were employed by the NYSE at some point in the future. But Grasso had already earned and accrued, by our reading, at least $28.6 million of that $48 million. In other words, the privilege and delight of working at the NYSE one last week cost Grasso at least $4.8 million a day.

Hmm. Like Grasso, we look forward to coming into the office each day. But not that much.

Or will this week cost Grasso that much? Yes, we all know he told the board he'd give up claims to the $48 million. But we wonder whether he signed all the official documents we assume are necessary to renounce that kind of money.

And if he didn't do the paperwork yet, is it possible he's having second thoughts about signing all that money away? We don't know. We called up the NYSE to ask about the status of Grasso's giveback, but a spokesman declined to comment.

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