Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Financial Officer Howard I. Atkins resigned for personal reasons, taking an unpaid leave of absence, and will be replaced by Chief Administrative Officer Timothy J. Sloan.
Legitimate reasons to do this include your diagnosis with terminal cancer or that of a close family member.
Every other reason I can come up with repudiates this:
Atkins departure, effective immediately, is unrelated to the companys financial condition or financial reporting, according to a statement yesterday from the San Francisco-based bank.
I'm skeptical. Wells has a metric crap-ton of dodgy garbage on and off balance sheet, and I have often written about it. Nobody has a damn clue about the real value (or lack thereof) these assets have. I have long pointed out that of all the major financial institutions Wells is the most exposed, simply because in terms of its capitalization it is the thinnest of the majors when one looks at the off-balance sheet and potential contingent liabilities that are represented in those alleged "assets."
Of course the other side of that coin is that if the assets are good, then they have excellent prospects.
This is the conundrum for anyone trying to analyze these companies. You can't. You have to take the word of management that the alleged "assets" they are holding are good, because there is no longer any need to use market prices in a post-Kanjorski-threat-laden world.
I refuse to take management's word for anything, because we learned during the Lehman and Bear Stearns period that even when management is well-aware of adverse information they will either withhold it or twist the truth, in no small part because nobody in top management has been indicted for anything during the entire period of this financial mess. Remember that we were told by Fuld that he was going to "Burn the Shorts", that Wachovia was perfectly sound, that WaMu was perfectly ok in paying out dividends from capitalized interest, that Countrywide was going to be the only mortgage lender of relevance when the dust settled and more. All of these statements were utter crap and while Mozilo has been sued nobody has gone to prison. Not one of them.
These people don't give a good damn if someone sues them. It's not their money. The company defends them and the suit, and if they lose, the company pays the judgment. Screw that.
The only effective means of ever policing unlawful activity is found in the threat of decades of prison time with a cellmate named "Bubba" who likes boys. A lot.
But that threat has to be credible, and today it simply is not. The major financial institutions of this nation have repeatedly admitted or been caught red-handed engaged in various unlawful things, including running drug money, funneling money to Iran and getting involved in hinky sewer-bond deals with Jefferson County, and while a few underlings here and there may be prosecuted senior management never is.
No risk, no reason not to play games.
I don't like any financial institution for the simple reason that it is impossible for me to analyze the company without trusting management's claims of value, and I don't trust management as far as I can throw them, because recent history says that if they lie nothing will happen to them while I will still lose my money.
When a top executives leaves on no notice and without a detailed and accurate explanation?
Stinks like dead fish.
No matter how many press releases they put out claiming otherwise.
Where We Are, Where We're Heading (2013) - The annual 2013 Ticker
The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions.
NO MATERIAL HERE CONSTITUTES "INVESTMENT ADVICE" NOR IS IT A RECOMMENDATION TO BUY OR SELL ANY FINANCIAL INSTRUMENT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO STOCKS, OPTIONS, BONDS OR FUTURES.
The author may have a position in any company or security mentioned herein. Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility.
Looking for "The Best of Market Ticker"? Check out Ticker Classics.
Market charts, when present, used with permission of TD Ameritrade/ThinkOrSwim Inc. Neither TD Ameritrade or ThinkOrSwim have reviewed, approved or disapproved any content herein.
The Market Ticker content may be reproduced or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media or for commercial use.
Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.