Bankers Bonuses and Bank Reforms: why they are needed, what they might include, and are you angry yet?

by Linda Beale

Bankers Bonuses and Bank Reforms: why they are needed, what they might include, and are you angry yet?

A big title for a tiny little sketch of a post, I know. Not much time today folks, but if you can read only one blog posting, read the one at Naked Capitalism at the link provided at the end of this paragraph. Yves comments on the Independent’s article on bankers’ bonuses and the Wall Street firms’ incredible egos and greed. See US Banks Reject Effort by UK Bank Execs to Reign In Pay, Naked Capitalism, 022

 Beale here: As you all know, A Taxing Matter has been hitting that same nail with my tiny little hammer. I think the evidence suggests that we need to take some rather drastic actions, which might include any or even perhaps all of the following:
  • break up the investment banks;
  • regulate their leverage and their bonuses,
  • ban their flash trading
  • heavily regulate their involvement in speculative gambling with derivatives (i.e., betting on positions that they don’t own). And given that their resurging profits are due to two things–(1) resuming the same casino gambling that caused the 2008 crisis and Great Recession and cost millions their jobs and (2) feeding off the public trough for TARP direct funding (the AIG bailout, etc going directly into Goldman and JPMorgan Chase’s pockets) and implicit guarantees resulting in very cheap cost-of-funds permitting Goldman et al to make profits with federal loans–we need to add a new tax for the big banks as a charge for the government guarantee that they are getting rich off of (again). The tax should be a substantial enough bite that it will force the banks to both significantly reduce their leverage and significantly reduce their bonus payment system. It can be either in the form of an excise tax based on their leverage (since their borrowed funding is what costs the government in terms of bailout potential) or in the form of an income tax surcharge that is progressively structured so that the highest rate applies to banks with the greatest amount of leverage. It could even be a tax structured as a tax on each derivative position like credit default swaps entered into that isn’t backed by a long position (so not a true hedge but a speculative bet). I don’t knw for sure which form is best (comments welcome) but I sure as heck think some version or another should be passed, and soon, else we are in for a repeat that is more disastrous than the GOP-gifted Great Recession we are already experiencing. _________________________________

crossposted with ataxingmatter

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