Robert Rubin speaks up for himself:
“Nobody was prepared for this,” Mr. Rubin said in an interview. He cited former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as another example of someone whose reputation has been unfairly damaged by the crisis.
This seems like a pretty serious dodge here. Presumably the reason the top executives at a giant financial services firm get paid such extravagant salaries is that it’s their job to be prepared for the stuff that “nobody” is prepared for. If the idea is just that you make money while the market goes up, and then when the market goes down the government steps in to rescue you, probably a lot of people could do the job. And if a lot of people could do the job, there’s no need for compensation packages to run into the tens of millions of dollars. But if there is a need for compensation packages that run into the tens of millions of dollars, then people have a responsibility to prove themselves to be super-genius titans of capitalism who can navigate the shoals of the global economy flawlessly.
I don’t, personally, believe that there’s anyone like that out there. So nobody should be blamed for failing to live up to that hype. But people can be blamed for participating in the hype and profiting from it.