Gwen Moritz: Sticking Up for Bank of the Ozarks

Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz this week sticks up for Bank of the Ozarks of Little Rock, which the New York Times called out last week in a story about the extravagances of banks that take federal TARP money.

In its story, the Times noted the $43,432 the bank holding company paid an assistant who works out of the home of CEO George Gleason and his wife, company director Linda Gleason. While it’s fair to note what banks are doing with their money while taking, in this case, $75 million in investment by the U.S. Treasury, there’s more to the story of Bank of the Ozarks than probably most NYT readers know:

Gleason’s salary in 2007, the most recent figure available, was $587,606, so he wouldn’t even have to take much of a pay cut under the salary cap President Barack Obama has announced for future TARP recipients. And he didn’t receive a bonus. His total compensation package (which includes the cost of the assistant, as properly disclosed) was $756,388 – a handsome sum, yet lower than 55 other public company executives in Arkansas that year, and nothing at all like the breathtaking pay packages commanded by bankers who ran their companies into insolvency.

Even the Times was forced to note Bank of the Ozarks’ healthy stock price. If every bank was as well-managed as Bank of the Ozarks, taxpayers wouldn’t need to bail out anyone. I rather suspect that early BOZ investors, whose stock is worth five times what it was 12 years ago, don’t mind providing the Gleasons with an assistant. Taxpayers won’t mind, either, when the Gleason magic gets applied to the shares the U.S. Treasury Department bought.

More on “those adorable New Yorkers,” and their reactions to the Times story, here.

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