Friday, September 18, 2009

Feds Are Looking to Curb Banker's Pay

I smell a battle brewing....
Policies that set the pay for tens of thousands of bank employees nationwide would require approval from the Federal Reserve as part of a far-reaching proposal to rein in risk-taking at financial institutions.

Under the proposal, the Fed could reject any compensation policies it believes encourage bank employees -- from chief executives, to traders, to loan officers -- to take too much risk. Bureaucrats wouldn't set the pay of individuals, but would review and, if necessary, amend each bank's salary and bonus policies to make sure they don't create harmful incentives.

Some congressional critics, especially Republicans, argue the Fed is exerting itself too aggressively, a complaint that will surely be amplified by its move to oversee bank pay practices.

The proposal will likely please congressional Democrats, for whom corporate compensation has become a rallying cry, at a time when the Fed is defending itself from moves by Congress to restrain its independence.

In a Wednesday speech, Former Fed Chairman Paul A. Volcker noted that one of the causes of the financial crisis "was the ultimately explosive combination of compensation practices that provided enormous incentives to take risks" just as new financial innovations "seemed to offer assurance -- falsely, as it has turned out -- that those risks had been diffused."

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