CNBC’s Mark Haines — who yesterday made waves by suggesting that Wall Street companies can’t “be run well” by those making under $250,000 and compared Wall Street executives to Nazis and Baathists while defending their bonuses — was at it again today.
While debating Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Haines said those who think bailed-out executives shouldn’t receive bonuses are engaged in “witch-huntery.” He also expressed dismay at the thought of Wall Streeters working for a $100,000 salary:
This is witch-huntery. I’ll be perfectly honest with you. You and people who share your opinion seem to feel that, you know, let’s hold salaries on Wall Street to $100,000. Do you have any idea what Wall Street would look like if you did that?
As Sherman pointed out, it’s not the idea of bonuses and the salaries that’s the problem — it’s that the people receiving the bonuses and salaries are working for federally bailed-out enterprises. These are exceptional circumstances that call for a change in Wall Street’s standard operating procedure.
But this is not a zero-sum game. Here’s an suggestion from Brad DeLong on how to handle compensation for traders and executives, if they stick around and actually nurse the financial system back to health:
Traders and financial executives who are willing to work very hard for what are now government-owned enterprises should be offered the carrot of long-term restricted equity stakes: that if they do their jobs well and if the government makes a healthy return because of their skill, forethought, and diligence, they should make healthy returns as well.