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Bailout Bonuses: What do you think?

Bailout Bonuses: What do you think?

Last week, it was all over the news that most of the banks that had received federal bail out money had used the funds to pay top executives bonuses. This is hardly surprising, given that we’re dealing with bankers. I know some honest bankers, but I also know that the whole industry is based on squeezing money out of whatever crevice its lodged into, and that it’s no coincidence that when someone does something assholish they often say, “That’s business.” Or “That’s the cost of doing business.” Or whatever.

The news this week is that Citibank is still considering paying $400 million to have the new New York Mets stadium named Citi Field. They claim that this money is not using taxpayer money, but down here in the real world we understand that this is not possible. I don’t care what budget column the $400 million is assigned to, the reason you’re in this mess is because of too many dumbass decisions like this one, no?

Obama called the payment of executive bonuses when the companies were in such dire straits that they had to take federal funds “shameful,” and that is certainly my first reaction. The banks, for themselves, claimed that they had to pay these executives bonuses in order to retain them as employees: if they cut out bonuses, the executives would presumably leave the banks and go somewhere else, where their services would be better appreciated and/or compensated. This raises an interesting topic, because executives don’t have the kind of loyalty they once had, and I think it’s credible that they might have to maintain their employees through financial compensation. I also know that a HUGE portion of these kind of banking executives’ “salaries” is reserved for the year-end bonus: it is not the same thing as the couple thou your average boss may or may not throw your way come Christmas. That said, is it not times like these that call for them being considered bona fide bonuses, and because of this, people should go without? And really, are there so many job opportunities in banking these days that executives would be willing to walk without them?

I find it absurd that we would give a bunch of criminals money without any instructions on how to use it. And I know the banking industry is not comprised entirely of criminals, but there are just enough of them sprinkled about that it makes me nervous. What do you guys think?

Comments (2)

  1. Feb 5, 2009

    One of the big problems I have is with the bonuses. In every company I’ve worked for (and most that my friends, family, and cohorts have worked for), bonuses are based on a combination of the financial success of the company, and on employee contribution to that success. So how is it that these bankers, whose companies are obviously failing on many levels, are getting these crazy bonus payouts still?

  2. Feb 5, 2009

    @ginger, yeah, that’s the problem with them calling them “bonuses,” as if they are an additional part, non-guaranteed part, of the salary. But from what I understand, they really are not. The amount fluctuates, but even in a down year they are the lion’s share of what execs are paid. I’m wondering if there is some connection to quarterly profits or something–like they went bk in the fourth quarter, but earlier in the year they made money, so they still get a bonus?

    Who am I kidding, it’s probably just a racket anyway.

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