Limiting Banker Pay

More

I'm not sure what to think of Ken Feinberg's restrictions on executive pay at firms that received extraordinary help from the government.  On the one hand, like everyone else, I'm outraged at the sight of bankers paying themselves big bonuses out of profits made on the backs of bailouts and implicit guarantees that they can't "pay back".  On the other hand, this doesn't touch the current worst offenders, who have paid back their TARP funds.  Restricting bonuses only at the companies in which we now have a gigantic stake is emotionally satisfying, but bankers aren't just talking their book when they complain that talent is getting poached from bonus-limited firms.  I know it's fashionable to believe that traders are all a bunch of lucky, arrogant idiots, but there is some skill involved, and firms that lose their top people will probably underperform.

So how much am I willing to pay, in tax dollars, to make this well-deserved gesture?  Some.  But the recession has lowered the amount I'm willing to spend on gestures.

I suppose there's always the hope that this will encourage firms still in hock to the government to work as hard as possible to pay us all back.  But it's not a hope I'm awfully confident in.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In