Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hard to Shut Down Greed Cycle

Executive incentive pay for companies suckling on the federal bailout tit is hugely unpopular with the American public. Board compensation committees sell the extrinsic motivator as "pay for performance". People see monumental failure in the financial sector as abysmal performance, thus unworthy of bonuses.

It's sad CEO's aren't intrinsically motivated to do a good job. The poison of executive bribes fueled higher risk strategies, which are now being painfully unwound at taxpayer expense.

"Bonuses and severance packages will obsess the American public'' and become "a humiliation and embarrassment,'' said Arthur Levitt, a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a board member of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. "Compensation committees, believe me, are paying close attention to this.''

Compensation committees should give CEO's good job to do, one that doesn't need bribing. Greed and leverage got America into the financial sinkhole. "Too big to fail" and "too high a campaign donor" seduced our elected officials into proffering taxpayer rescue money. Yet, storied institutions keep disappearing and more bailout money is tossed into the giant pit. It looks America is doubling down on greed and too big to fail. We do so with a bit less leverage, due to taxpayer recapitalizations.

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