Will Rule for Food

Photo: David Goldman/New York Times/Redux

September 15 marks the first anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers, and along with millions of unemployed Americans, many erstwhile Masters of the Universe are out of work. Two financial-services recruiters agreed to give anonymous opinions on their job prospects.

Hank Paulson, 63
Former Gig: Treasury secretary.
Rap Against Him: His actions during the credit crisis seemed both erratic and designed to favor his old firm, Goldman Sachs.
Unemployed Since: January 2009.
Advice: “Hank could be a CEO again if he wanted to. His reputation as a manager is strong. It’s always easy to second-guess someone in a government seat.”

Warren Spector, 51
Former Gig: Co-president, Bear Stearns.
Rap Against Him: Two internal real-estate hedge funds collapsed under his purview.
Unemployed Since: August 2007.
Advice: “He’s in the ‘highly unlikely to be employed’ category. When Rome was burning, he was playing bridge. That lack of judgment will make it hard for any board to entertain him as a viable candidate at any level.”

Bob Steel, 58
Former Gig: President and CEO of Wachovia.
Rap Against Him: There isn’t one. Smartly sold teetering Wachovia to Wells Fargo and probably prevented his bank’s collapse. But he dealt himself out of a job in the process.
Unemployed Since: December 2008.
Advice: “No one could have turned Wachovia around, and Steel did a great job with the sale. He should be considered for a very significant role in financial services.”

Dick Fuld, 63
Former Gig: Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers.
Rap Against Him: Incorrectly thought the government would bail him out when Lehman started looking like the next Bear Stearns.
Unemployed Since: September 2008.
Advice: “He’s got no shot at another job, ever. Part of the reason Lehman failed is that he was not the most pleasant person to work with. He should have stepped aside long before that firm went under.”

Mark Carhart, 43
Former Gig: Co-head of Goldman Sachs’ Global Alpha Fund.
Rap Against Him: After taking the Global Alpha Fund from $100 million in 1997 to $12 billion in 2007, he and his co-manager then shrunk it to $2.5 billion by mid-2008. He reportedly left after a compensation dispute.
Unemployed Since: March 2009.
Advice: “He’s got to start his own hedge fund. Having said that, the Goldman marquee is very powerful and helps forgive some sins.”

John Thain, 54
Former Gig: Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch.
Rap Against Him: Spent $1.2 million on his office and then accelerated bonuses before announcing a $15 billion quarterly loss.
Unemployed Since: January 2009.
Advice: “Until about a year ago, he was an attractive candidate to be a CEO of a significant company.”

Jimmy Cayne, 75
Former Gig: Chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns.
Rap Against Him: He was smoking pot, golfing, and playing bridge while his firm sank.
Unemployed Since: January 2008.
Advice: “Should and will stay retired.”

Zoe Cruz, 54
Former Gig: Co-president of Morgan Stanley.
Rap Against Her: Oversaw a number of disastrous mortgage-related trading positions.
Unemployed Since: November 2007.
Advice: “She has the potential to get hired again. Unlike a lot of these other people, she didn’t bring an entire firm down with her. She was a scapegoat.”

Martin Sullivan, 54
Former Gig: President and CEO of AIG.
Rap Against Him: Totally underestimated the damage that a collapse of the mortgage market would do to his firm.
Unemployed Since: June 2008.
Advice: “How can anyone give the guy the benefit of the doubt? He should have been much more familiar with his own firm’s financials than he demonstrated.”

Jon Winkelried, 50
Former Gig: Co-president of Goldman.
Rap Against Him: The firm had to bail him out of his own personal cash crunch in late 2008. If the guy can’t manage his own money …
Unemployed Since: March 2009.
Advice: “Jon is either going to play a senior role in an expanding boutique or a big leadership role in a major organization.”

Joseph Cassano, 54
Former Gig: Honcho of AIG Financial Products.
Rap Against Him: Bet the farm on credit-default swaps, a move that brought AIG—and global finance—to its knees.
Unemployed Since: March 2008.
Advice: “It would be very challenging for any firm to hire him in any role whatsoever. For God’s sake, a few years ago, he said there was no way the company could lose any money at all.”

Will Rule for Food