How To Solve The Wall Street Bankers Bonuses Question - An Irate Editorial
How To Solve The Wall Street Bankers Bonuses Question:
Tax the ridiculous bonuses at 100% or just make them illegal. End of story.
Nobody will leave an easy $400,000 salary in New York to go and live in China and have their underwear inspected by Communist bureaucrats four times a day. And if they do leave, then we’ll just find somebody better here to do their job. They destroyed the world economy for God’s sake, how good are they at investment banking? We’re not going to miss them.
If a mechanic destroys my car I don’t pay him a multi-million dollar bonus to repair it again. I tell him you’re not much of a mechanic and fire him.
Then I send my brother round to beat him up.
The whole Wall Street bonus situation is a scam. They are approving these bonuses for themselves against shareholders’ wishes. It’s quite an obscenity, a lot of people are in jail for much smaller crimes against society.
When Kelloggs sell a box of cornflakes the employees don’t get a commission on the transaction.
That’s what’s been allowed to become established on Wall Street. Employees are skimming a commission off the enormous amounts of money passing through their hands. And it’s shareholder money they are skimming.
Let Wall Street employees work for an appropriate pay like everyone else, or allow someone else to have the job. They are very good jobs you know. Compared to doing almost everything else.
There will be a lot of fine and suitable applicants, even without the bonuses. People are queuing up to get in there. $350,000 is not a low salary.
I don’t make anywhere near that and I broke my brain solving Shakespeare-X and deconstructing an entire damn renaissance lasting a century.
What they do on Wall St. is not nearly as hard as they allow everyone to believe.
No-one will leave Wall Street and flee the country if these insane bonuses are discontinued.
In any case all the people with the real financial skills are already working for themselves, they all left Goldman Sachs to rush off and start their own hedge funds. It’s the deadbeats who are earning the bonuses, not the talent.
The whole business is obscene and it’s time we put a stop to it.
Wall Street is playing the country for fools. And damaging the world.
And they are using lobbyists to buy politicians in order to do it.
It’s a national disgrace.
Let’s stop this now before the country is completely looted.
I'm talking to you Mr. Bought Politician.
An Article - On Wall Street: All Reward, No Risk
New York Times, October, 2010
William D. Cohan
William D. Cohan, a former investigative reporter in Raleigh, N.C., writes in the New York Times on alternate Fridays about Wall Street and Main Street. He worked on Wall Street as a senior mergers and acquisitions banker for 15 years. He also worked for two years at GE Capital. He is the author of “House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street” and “The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.,” and is working on a book about Goldman Sachs. In addition to The New York Times, he writes regularly for Vanity Fair, Fortune and the Financial Times.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Wall Street bankers, traders and executives get paid so much money year after year for doing jobs that rarely require them to innovate, enlighten or put their own capital at risk, and have the nasty habit of periodically sinking our economy.
After a two-year stint as a reporter on a daily paper in the early 1980s, I worked on Wall Street for nearly two decades, and quickly discovered that I could make more money in one year as a banker than I could in a lifetime as a journalist. And that was when I was a relatively junior banker. By the time I was a managing director, the pay — and the pay spread — was astronomical.
Curiously, though, the amount of time and energy I devoted to the two professions on a daily basis wasn’t all that different; both were totally demanding. While it was true that as a banker I generated revenue, or helped to generate revenue, and as a journalist, the publisher likely figured I was part of a cost problem, the discrepancy in pay never made much sense to me since I always had trouble imagining a newspaper without writers.
Now, after six years of writing about Wall Street — including two lengthy books — I remain at a total loss to explain the pay phenomenon. What’s worse, even the most modest sleights when it comes to pay on Wall Street — “The guy next to me got a $2 million bonus, why did I only get $1.9 million?!” — is enough to reduce someone to tears. Indeed, I have yet to encounter a person on Wall Street who can, with a straight face, justify his compensation on other than the most painfully tone-deaf grounds, usually along the lines of how they “add value” for their clients.
The Wall Street Journal recently estimated that Wall Street bonuses in 2010 will total $144 billion, in a year that has been less than stellar for most banks. Goldman Sachs has set aside $13.1 billion in bonuses for its approximately 35,000 employees, an average of $370,000 per person, which completely ignores the fact that people at the top of Goldman’s golden pyramid get paid millions of dollars annually while those at the bottom do not. (In 2007, the three top executives at Goldman split around $200 million.) Goldman’s accrued bonuses for the first nine months of the year equaled 43 percent of its revenue and were down from the $16.7 billion that the firm accrued in 2009, or 47 percent of its revenue. (In a nod to the political gales blowing in its direction, Goldman accrued nothing for bonuses in the final quarter of 2009.)
At Morgan Stanley, half of the $24 billion in revenue the firm has generated in the first nine months of the year has been earmarked for compensation. At Lazard — a somewhat different Wall Street animal, in that it largely limits its actions to asset trading and advising on mergers, as opposed to trading on its own account — 61 percent of the revenue generated so far this year has been set aside for bonuses. And, incredibly, according to the Financial Times, UBS, the giant Swiss bank, has asked Swiss authorities to waive a $1 million bonus cap for its bankers “amid complaints” the cap “has strained some executives’ personal finances.”
Do Wall Street firms exist for the benefit of their shareholders, like other public companies, or do they exist primarily for the benefit of the people who happen to work there? The answer to this rhetorical question is painfully, and sadly, obvious. No other large public companies pay out anywhere near as high a percentage of revenue to their employees. But where is it written that this madness has to continue? Why does a financial engineer have to get paid exponentially more than a real engineer?
Unlike hedge-fund guys, investment bankers are not principals. They are agents. And they are at their best when they provide important services to their clients — such as advice on mergers and acquisitions or the capital their clients need to grow — and at their worst when they pretend to be principals, using other people’s money to make bets for their firms that they hope will be eventually reflected in their bonuses.
And yet, somewhere along the line, bankers decided that they deserved to get paid like those quantifiable talents who put themselves or their capital at risk day after day. This is what mystifies me, since, as a group, investment bankers are the most personally and professionally risk-averse people I’ve ever met. After all, in what other business could they make so much money without putting any of their own money on the line? Outsized financial rewards should be reserved for those who take outsized financial risks with their own money or have outsized, demonstrable talent. Investment bankers, by and large, just do not make that cut.
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