Analysts are worth what they can bring into the firm, which is the tragedy of their existence. They are not paid for their prowess in picking stocks or making money for brokerage clients. The weird notion that the film critics work for the industry has infected our business in a way that it has no other, and I wish that had been the real focus of The Fortune Tellers, because it is the most blatant example of conflicts I can see. In Howard's other world, that's the EPA head working for Exxon Mobil on the side during a Valdez oil spill—and why not, who's paying the bills here?
As far as the individual analysts, oddly, Blodget is not a good example of a shill, he is just a good example of an honest guy who got caught up! He never got any investment banking business from the companies he pushed, nor did he want any. The shame is that he actually believed and just got it wrong. He is the honest but wrong Fortune Teller. Acampora's tougher. He is in an unenviable position of having to call the market, which, believe me, is fine if you don't have to do it every day, but he does. Meeker? She tries. She's in a tough position, major investment banking firm trying to get a lot of business and be right. She, like me, tries to do her best.
For that I can't judge her harshly.
Alas, Howard, the real rub against me is that I won't expose here the people I know who are doing it wrong. I can't. I have to work every day and I am no Serpico. But I don't take the money either.