The Hypocrisy Of Compensation Regulation

I’ve not yet opined on the Obama administration’s plans to somehow, someway regulate compensation within the financial services industry. I’ll get to it once a real plan hits the streets but for now all I see are a lot of trial balloons floating around.

Having said that something did strike me as odd about the apparent administration positions on compensation within the financial services industry versus the auto industry.

One of the recurrent arguments you hear from those in support of regulating bankers salaries and bonuses is that they were simply taking too big a slice of the pie. That fifty percent of the profits for the employees and fifty percent for the shareholders is a skewed distribution. I know and you know the arguments to refute this and the arguments to refute the refutation but like it or not there is some merit to the contention.

But if you are going to accept the argument that the bankers were taking too much of the profit how then do you square that with the sweetheart deal the UAW is apparently going to get in the car company restructurings. Arguably, they have taken the lion’s share of the economic profits from the car companies over several decades in the form of salaries and benefits, yet the union’s interests are being protected at the expense of creditors with senior rights.

What’s good for the goose is not necessarily always good for the gander? Or to put it another way, it’s all about politics and not at all about equity.

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