Oh, to be able to waive one's £20m bonus and console oneself with a mere £2m salary payoff. The Bob Diamond Barclays exit is the story that keeps on giving, throwing up twice as many questions as answers. A naive one: why when you resign because you messed up, are you given a penny more than you have to be by your ex-employer? What do all these non-exec chairmen do?
Although he is the highest-profile banking casualty of the slump since Lehmans, he will not be the last. All eyes will be on JP Morgan Chase, America's biggest and most profitable bank, when it reports on Friday. Is its loss from derivative trading (now perhaps $5bn) going to one day topple the once most untouchable of Big Swinging Dicks, Jamie Dimon, or will he survive to draw his $23m package for another year?
Even if the loss grows to be the $9bn some bears are forecasting, the bank has the capacity to make up to $22bn in profits elsewhere – more than any other US bank. What's a $5bn loss in this context, no matter the key issue of what a top executive should need to know to justify a $23m package?
What drives us crazy are the horrendous disparities. In this case, there's first, the astonishing amounts that CEOs earn – always justified on the grounds that "this is what you must pay to attract the 'best' talent", and secondly, the knowledge that if we dare go a few pounds into the red, the same banks will come down on us like a tonne of bricks with a blizzard of threatening direct mail and fines.
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