In a letter to the media today, the world's largest financial services firm signaled that the brand name Salomon Smith Barney was no longer to be used. From now on, the firm is to be referred to as Citigroup. The old Sollys has been subsumed into the Global Corporate and Investment Bank.
This may seem an insignificant event when you have a war in Iraq, a deadly pneumonia virus and the threat of global recession. But for those with a sense of history, it is a significant changing of the guards. In its time, Salomon's was - de facto - the most important investment bank in the world.
With its brand's now being rendered to pulp, this ranks as one of those Ozymandian moments that deserves a passing thought. To commemorate this passing, here are 10 passages from Michael Lewis's Liar's Poker, the book that did so much to make Sollys infamous:
1 In 1968, the last time a degree count was taken at Salomon Brothers, thirteen of the 28 partners hadn't been to college, and one hadn't graduated from the eighth grade.
2 The man (on the training program) was telling us how to survive. "You've got to think of Salomon Brothers as like a jungle," he said. Except it didn't come out that way. It came out: "You gotta tink of Salomon Bruddahs as like a jungle."
3 There were many bad places your name could land on the job placement blackboard in 1985, but the absolute worst was in the slot marked "Equities in Dallas".
4 Horowitz was an old world investment banker. He talked about how much more important it was to have a family than to have a career, which I think impressed most people as the strangest thing they had heard in the course of the training programme.
5 "If you guys weren't trading bonds, you'd be driving a truck. Don't try and get intellectual in the marketplace. Just trade."
6 At other places management says, "Well gee fellas, do we really want to bet the ranch on this deal?". Lewie was not only willing to bet the ranch. He was willing to hire people and let them bet the ranch too. His attitude was : "Sure - what the f***, it's only a ranch".
7 Each Friday was "Food frenzy" day, during which all trading ceased, and eating commenced. "We'd order four hundred dollars of Mexican food," says a former trader. A customer would call in and ask us to bid or offer bonds, and you'd have to say, "I'm sorry, but we're in the middle of the feeding frenzy, I'll have to call you back."
8 Ranieri owned four suits, all polyester. As he grew wealthy, earning between two and five million in each of the golden years between 1982 and 1986, he continued to own four suits.
9 He was standing real close to Andrew Friedwald and asking him how a deal was going. Andy was saying how he hoped to sell some bonds in London and Tokyo, and Lewie just stood there nodding with a weird smile. Then Andy felt the joke. Lewie was holding a Bic lighter right under Andy's balls. His pants were about to catch fire.
10 "You want loyalty. Hire a cocker spaniel."