|This lowly academic who earned $5 billion in 2009 is sure to be at Davos this week.|
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The annual Masters of the Universe Ball, also known as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is upon us. Coming as it does on the heels of a humbling Wall Street earnings season, we are sure to hear and read even more than we already have about how the Titans of Finance have lost their shirts, their influence, their dinner reservations, or all of the above. But let's not shed too many tears for these scoundrels. The average Goldman Sachs ( GS) employee now makes $350,000 instead of $400,000. That's still nearly nine times the national average wage index for 2010.
And you can be sure the Goldman executives at Davos won't be the poor schlubs making $350,000. They are still in the multi-million-dollar-a-year category. Of course, Wall Street wizards aren't the only ones in attendance at Davos. There will also be heads of state like Angela Merkel, and "academics" such as Larry Summers. As a lowly academic, former Treasury Secretary and ex-Harvard President Summers had to settle for a mere $5 million salary at hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co. in 2009. If, as is rumored , Summers becomes president of the World Bank, he may have to get by on just $500,000 a year plus expenses, which is what current president Robert Zoellick has been subsisting on since he left his position as managing director at Goldman Sachs in 2007. But what is Davos all about? To most of us, it's little more than watching interviewers exhale puffs of freezing air while talking with Bank of America ( BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan. Viewing the Web site of the World Economic Forum, which hosts the event, provides a nice sample of the brand of hypocrisy on display, to be held Jan. 25-29 this year. Davos was started in 1971 as a gathering of corporate leaders from around the world. In 1974, they began inviting political leaders, apparently making them revel in their dedication to pretending to be socially responsible as they plotted new ways to rape and rob the planet. Doing so, they found, made the raping and robbing more successful than ever. And so under the guise of worrying about chronic diseases and well-being, one of the many issues highlighted on the forum's Web site , JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon can figure out new ways to extort money from Sanofi SA's ( SNY)Christopher Viehbacher by offering big loans in exchange for advisory business (a widespread practice in the banking industry known as "tying," which is supposed to be illegal even though no one would ever think of policing it).
Want to enjoy a good laugh (or cry, depending on your mood)? Take a look at this video featuring the Forum's
evil world dictators-in-training global leadership fellows. One fellow, Arthur Wasunna, offers up this nugget of wisdom. "You have to have a holistic approach to tackle big challenges." Rama Krishnaswamy does him one better. "If I'm not going to be doing it, no one else has done it, therefore someone's got to do it." I swear I didn't make that up. And I swear that, whatever pittance Krishnaswamy and Wasunna earn in their first year at Goldman, it will be more than most people ever earn in any single year of their lives. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York. Follow this writer on Twitter.