Kappa Beta Phi is a secret honor society, mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article that appeared on January 16, 2009, for Wall Street financial executives.
The purpose of the organization is largely social and honorific. The current honor society meets once a year at a black-tie dinner held at the St. Regis Hotel to induct new members. [ ... ]
The organization was founded in 1929 prior to the stock market crash. Its stated purpose is to "keep alive the spirit of the 'good old days of 1928-29.'" Prior to the St. Regis, the annual dinner was held at the Downtown Athletic Club.
The Wall Street frat holds an annual secretive "what happens at the St. Regis stays at the St. Regis" induction ceremony. Last year, a reporter who was sitting in the lobby as the dinner guests arrived, promptly exited when a man came out and showed him a picture of himself from his Facebook profile page. This year, somehow Kevin Roose, of the New York Times, was able to stay in the ballroom unnoticed and all of the reports about the January 19th event seem to be based on his article in the DealBook section of the Times.
The Wall Street Journal published a copy of their program from the January, 2009 annual dinner which was, of course, just several months after the world found out that these same characters and their fellow Wall Street gamblers had crashed the world economy. There are many unfamiliar names in this fraternity, and others well known and interesting, to say the least.
The 2009 program lists the names of all of the members of Kappa Beta Phi, both in alphabetical and in class year order. Some haven't been to the meetings for awhile but presumably still pay their dues and are named in the program.
- Robert H. Benmosche, Chairman of American International Group
- Michael R. Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP
- Todd J. Christie, (Gov. Chris Christie's brother)
- Jon Corzine
- Richard S. Fuld, Jr., former Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers
- Alan C. "Ace" Greenberg, former Chairman and CEO Bear Stearns
- William Harrison, former Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase
- Kenneth Langone, former chair of the New York Stock Exchange compensation committee
- E. Stanley O'Neal former Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch
- Mary Schapiro, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- Diana Taylor, former New York State Superintendent of Banks
- Meredith Whitney, Whitney Advisory Group
Dum vivamus edimus et biberimus (While we live, we eat and drink.)
It's all a big joke to them -- the obliterating of pensions, millions of families losing homes, crushing unemployment, lives destroyed. In 2009, just a few months after the devastating crash, they sang a parody song titled "We've All Lost Dough Together". This year, the current "Grand Swipe", Wilbur L. Ross Jr., who the New York Times called "a dean of vulture investing", made this joke for the bankster crowd:
“We have members from every firm that has failed, as well as members from those that will fail in the future,” he said to loud laughter.
The Gothamist took a shot at them:
Wall Street "Frat" Just A Bunch Of Sad Old Men & Their Crème Brûlée
Would you believe that Wall Street's ruling class has a fraternity of its own? One that enjoys eating lavish meals at the St. Regis and regaling its members with "raucous" skits that only reinforce how hopelessly out of touch they are? Pick your jaw off the floor, brother: the Times is on it.
And now they have a new target, Occupy Wall Street.
The Occupy movement was fodder for several after-dinner skits. In one, a documentary filmed during the protests, James Lebenthal, a bond specialist, joked with a protester whose face was appeared to be tattooed.
“Go home, wash that off your face, and get back to work,” Mr. Lebenthal told the protester.
[ ... ]
In another skit, William Mulrow , a senior managing director at the Blackstone Group, put on raggedy clothes to play the part of an Occupy protester. Emil W. Henry Jr., a managing partner at Tiger Infrastructure Partners and a fellow new Kappa, joined him dressed as a wealthy baron.
“Bill, look at you! You’re pathetic, you liberal! You need a bath!” Mr. Henry said, voice full of mock indignation.
“You callow, insensitive Republican!” Mr. Mulrow said. “Don’t you know we need to create jobs?”
Occupy Wall Street protesters are part of the joke, a big bunch of unwashed, lazy losers, just as high unemployment for years on end is a joke. Ha ha! The fact that creating jobs is an urgent, life or death priority in this country? Well, that's a joke too.
The same unwashed taxpayers bailed them out in 2008 and continue to bail them out in creative, less obvious ways. If not for these bailouts and special treatment from their friends and protectors in Washington, many of them would have been out of business after they bankrupted their own companies and damaged so many others. But they didn't seem very worried about being unemployed themselves just months after the crash, and just three years later they seem even less so.
I suppose that unemployment and personal financial worries never were much of an issue for them after all. They knew they were too big to fail and that the vast majority of politicians don't have the courage to require any real accountability. They knew all along that the people they bought and paid for would take care of them.
A number of people in the comments have mentioned Bill Moyers' show this week so I will link it here with the link to view it online.
January 20, 2012
Bill Moyers and former White House budget director David Stockman on how politics and high finance have turned our economy into a members-only private club.