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)

This Short Film Skewers Hollywood, Probably Predicts Disney's Next Hit

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?


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

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

How Will Climate Change Affect Cities?

Urban planners and environmentalists predict the future of city life.

Video

The Inner Life of a Drag Queen

A short documentary about cross-dressing, masculinity, identity, and performance

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In