Goldman Sachs is holding its annual meeting in Texas, though it is based in New York. Citigroup met in St. Louis. Wells Fargo, based in San Francisco, met in San Antonio. Why?
As The New York Times noted, “banks appear to some to be running away from their shareholders.” The choice of meeting sites is “meant to keep the attendance low because they often require shareholders to travel long distances to attend.” (See “Telling Off the C.E.O., Once a Year.”)
To be sure, banks have had a rough year, and irate shareholders are angry at the compensation packages for top bankers, not to mention the stiff fines for their illegal practices. Under those circumstances, shareholders often use the meeting to vent their criticisms, and give bank officers a tough time.
But is that why? Are the bankers fleeing a few harsh words? Hard to believe that aggressive, hard-nosed big Wall Street personalities could be so delicate.
Or is this a sign of our new class system? Are they so used to living in their gated communities and flying in their private jets that they actually have lost their capacity to tolerate protest. Is this a new entitlement, a sign of their new aesthetic sensibility?