How do you put a spin on a fourth quarter loss of $422 million if you're Angelo Mozilo, soon-to-be former CEO? By being a real stand up guy, that's how. Mr. Mozilo stated yesterday he was going to “forfeit” $37.5 million of his severance package. I guess he's hoping we've forgotten that this still leaves him with $77.5 million. Not to mention the $400+ million Mozilo cashed out in stocks in '05 and '06.
He also humbly (this is a humble man, people) announced he was going to forgo the $400,000 per year in “consultancy” fees Countrywide was going to pay him – after his departure.
The mind... REELS... Must... MOCK... FAT CATS!
Maybe what compelled Mozilo to humbly step away from the consultant's role was his insistence in October that Countrywide would “return to profitability” in the fourth quarter. The 11,000 former Countrywide employees laid off in the past five months must be laughing as they deposit their big, fat unemployment checks.
No doubt they're touched by the incredible sacrifice Mozilo has made – leaving behind that $37.5 million. Isn't that an odd figure? Why 37.5? Why not 35? Or 40? Or even 38? Causes one to wonder, doesn't it? As if this $37.5 million is some monetary appendage, some element of deferred compensation that Mozilo and his lawyers and accountants decided he can live without – all the while spinning it to make it sound as if he's done something smacking of noble.
Overall Mozilo has only lost Countrywide $2.26 billion in the past six months. And of course since the vast majority of his compensation is deferred, Countrywide will be paying tax on that, too. Is it any wonder he felt compelled to give up a whopping seven percent of his total compensation for the past three years? No doubt he'll want to apply it to his little boo-boo. It'll cover all but 98.7% of this debacle.
No doubt, someone will come along and suggest that all this isn't “that bad”. Of course not. The $9 billion Merrill lost, the ten-plus billion dollars Morgan Stanley's lost... and on and on. Really, no big deal. Because we'll all end up paying for it eventually.
But I don't feel bad. Not since Mozilo's offered to chip in...