Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wall Street having fit over America's outrage on $18 billion exec bonuses

Wall Street having fit over America's outrage on $18 billion exec bonuses

Looks like Wall Street is having a hissy fit over the outrage on their executives' $18 billion dollar bonus. From The New York Times:

Getting between a broker and his bonus is like getting between a schnauzer and his lunch bowl. He may not bite you, but you are going to smell his breath.

“People come here because they want to work hard and get paid a lot for working hard,” one investment banker said Friday as he wended his way, lunch bag in hand, through the World Financial Center. “I think there’s a disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street.”

That certainly was the case this week when Main Street learned that, despite the craters of a down economy, Wall Street bonuses were more than $18 billion last year — roughly what they were in the fatty, solvent days of 2004. The media hollered, the president scolded, and ordinary people checked their wallets. But downtown, in the caverns of finance, the moneymakers shrugged and took it on the chin.

It is a complicated thing, they said, to apportion compensation in a bear market. First of all, profits do not stop; they often ebb. Second of all, losses move unequally, so the law of the jungle should still apply: you eat what you can kill.

“My bonus is ‘shameful’ — but I worked hard to get it,” said John Konstantinidis, a wholesale insurance broker, lunching Friday at Harry’s at Hanover Square.

“I’m a HENRY,” Mr. Konstantinidis added. “High Earner but Not Rich Yet.”

Nonetheless, it was rather remarkable on Friday how many white shirts denied getting a bonus altogether when they were asked. Indeed, if the data obtained by reporters in the district was any measure, there is no telling where that $18 billion really went.

What can be told, however, is that President Obama is substantially less popular on Wall Street this week than he was last week. Words like “outrageous,” “shameful” and “the height of irresponsibility” — especially when applied to a man’s paycheck — tend not to make you many friends.

“I think President Obama painted everyone with a broad stroke,” said Brian McCaffrey, 55, a Wall Street lawyer who was on his way to see a client. “The way we pay our taxes is bonuses. The only way that we’ll get any of our bailout money back is from taxes on bonuses. I think bonuses should be looked at on a case by case basis, or you turn into a socialist.”

That, indeed, was a recurring equation: Broad strokes + bonuses = socialist.

Okay. Let Wall Street executives have their $18 billion bonus. But after that, they are not going to get another single dime of the government bailout money--zero. Let Wall Street fail, due to their outright greed and incompetence. Or better yet, let the federal government nationalize these Wall Street firms, fire these executives, and do not give them any golden parachutes or executive contracts, or any bonuses--and forbid them from working in any other company that is taking federal government bailout money. Wall Street was just as responsible for getting us into this economic mess with the outright greed and speculation. Punish them!


nunya said...

Punish them? Oh Nooooooooooooo.

Welcome to blogtopia :)

Eric A Hopp said...

Hello Nunya:

And thank you for your comment. I can at least dream that some of these corporate scumbags will receive the punishment for their excessive greed, even though we both know that they will get away with it.