Executive Pay: Do some Wall Street salaries … “offend” your values?

Wall Street paydays
E
xecutives at bailed-out Wall Street firms just paid themselves huge bonuses.
   

Obama’s reaction was swift: “It does offend our values when executives of big financial firms that are struggling—pay themselves huge bonuses even as they rely on extraordinary assistance to stay afloat.” (See a video of Obama’s remarks here via MSNBC.)

   

On Thursday last week, Kenneth R. Feinberg, the so-called Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation, announced limits on compensation for the executives of firms that received “exceptional TARP assistance.” These include AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, Chrysler, GM, GMAC and Chrysler Financial.

The limits apply to the five “most senior executives” and the “next 20 most highly compensated employees.” There are a lot of details to Feinberg’s determination. The gist of it is that compensation for top executives will be half of what they were paid in 2008.

 

Reactions to Obama’s remark about offended values were just as swift. The media buzzed with opinions about the merit (or lack thereof) of his stance. I’ll share some of those reactions with you this week. And, as we’ll see, the brouhaha about executive pay for bailed-out bankers is just the most recent instance of what is a perennial American issue:
   
How much should executives be paid?
   
When does executive pay become excessive—if ever?

Do you agree with Obama’s values-based reaction?
   
Do big bonuses at the bailed-out firms offend your values?
   
If so, which values are offended?

If these big bonuses don’t offend your values, what criteria do you use to evaluate them?

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