Kenneth Feinberg, pay warrior

By Felix Salmon
October 21, 2009
This is much more aggressive than anybody had dared hope it would be:

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Oh wow. This is much more aggressive than anybody had dared hope it would be:

The seven companies that received the most assistance will have to cut the cash payouts to their 25 best-paid executives by an average of about 90 percent from last year…

And for all executives the total compensation, which includes bonuses, will drop, on average, by about 50 percent…

At the financial products division of A.I.G., the locus of problems that plagued the large insurer and forced its rescue with more than $180 billion in taxpayer assistance, no top executive will receive more than $200,000 in total compensation, a stunning decline from previous years in which the unit produced many wealthy executives and traders.

In contrast to previous years, an official said, executives in the financial products division will receive no other compensation, like stocks or stock options.

Are you feeling outraged? Well, remember that $200,000 a year makes you rich. (Yes, really.) But these guys are effectively civil servants now, and they deserve to be paid as such. And if they have any fiscal responsibility at all, they will have saved up a huge amount of their past compensation to tide them through this fallow period.

What this means is that the people who used to be the 25 best-paid employees are now going to be far down the list, with underlings making much more than they do. That’s OK too. There’s no particular reason why senior executives should always be the best-paid employees in any organization. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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