Back in June, when Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal wrote, "Without exception, the Obama people with responsibility for the private economy come from a lifetime in politics, public administration or academia," I quibbled: "it'd be a mistake to underestimate that private-sector experience, such as Lawrence Summers's $5.2 million a year, one-day-a-week job at the D.E. Shaw hedge fund, or Rahm Emanuel's two-and-a-half year, $16.2 million stint as managing director in the Chicago office of Wasserstein and Perella." (Incidentally, that post made the comparison between the bitter detractors of Obama and the bitter critics of Yitzhak Rabin more than three months before Thomas Friedman did.) Now comes Bloomberg News with an update of the private sector experience of some of President Obama's economic aides at the Treasury Department:
Some of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's closest aides, none of whom faced Senate confirmation, earned millions of dollars a year working for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other Wall Street firms, according to financial disclosure forms.
The advisers include Gene Sperling, who last year took in $887,727 from Goldman Sachs and $158,000 for speeches mostly to financial companies, including the firm run by accused Ponzi scheme mastermind R. Allen Stanford. Another top aide, Lee Sachs, reported more than $3 million in salary and partnership income from Mariner Investment Group, a New York hedge fund.
The information on Mr. Sperling is particularly rich:
In Sperling's primary job, he was paid $116,653 by the Council on Foreign Relations for work related to education in developing countries.
Sperling's disclosure shows he supplemented his salary through a variety of consulting jobs, board seats, speaking fees and fellowships, to bring his total income to more than $2.2 million in the 13 months ending in January.
He was paid $480,051 as a director of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and $250,000 for providing quarterly economic briefings to two hedge fund firms, Brevan Howard Asset Management LLP and Sterling Stamos Capital Management....Sperling also drew a $137,500 salary from Bloomberg News for writing a monthly column and appearing on television, according to his disclosure. Goldman Sachs paid Sperling the $887,727 for advice on its charitable giving. That made the bank his highest-paying employer.
I particularly like the reference to the job paying Mr. Sperling the least amount of money as his "primary" job. I don't know how much television Mr. Sperling was doing, but $137,500 a year for a monthly column is stratospheric by any standard I'm familiar with, and I've been around the column-writing market for some time. The Goldman money isn't bad either, as far as the "advice on charitable giving." My advice to Goldman, which is free, would be that if it paid Mr. Sperling $100,000 a year instead of $887,727, it would have $787,727 more to give to charity or to return to its shareholders in dividends.