Bankers Being Bankers

I think it must be genetic. No matter where they seem to be located, bankers seem to feel that bonuses are somehow a birthright.

From the WSJ:

The long-running debate in France over executive pay was rekindled this week when BNP Paribas SA, France’s largest bank by market value, said it had set aside about €1 billion to pay bonuses to its employees in 2009. BNP Paribas said it would abide “scrupulously” with guidelines on pay packages agreed by France and the other G-20 countries.

The government injected €5.1 billion into BNP Paribas earlier this year to help the bank confront the global credit crisis.

“If the government is serious about bringing values to the world of finance, it is imperative that this €1 billion be paid back to the state,” said French shareholder-activist association SOS Petits Porteurs.

And from the

In an unmistakable middle-finger salute to regulators, TARP recipient Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) has raised the compensation of four top executives: CEO John Stumpf; Dave Hoyt, head of wholesale banking; Mark Oman, head of home and consumer finance; and Howard Atkins, chief financial officer. These raises, the bank says, will bring its executives’ pay in line with its competitors.

While the move is sure to infuriate, um, everyone (aside from other banks, perhaps), these raises look more like a carrot on a stick rather than a reward. Or more, a huge chocolate cake on a stick: The increases in salary will not be paid in cash, but instead through the issuance of company stock. The stock cannot be sold until the $25 billion in TARP money it was loaned is repaid. (Even though Wells Fargo has claimed it didn’t need the capital infusion, the bank has yet toapply to pay back the funds.)

I guess tin ears can be found in any nationality. Why these guys just don’t lay low for a year or two until all of this blows over is something I will never understand. The pitchforks are very near at hand and it wouldn’t take much to get the mob going again. The politicians know this, why can’t the bankers figure it out? Maybe they need to get out more.

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