Taming Runaway Bonuses

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Here in the Netherlands we also have a prominent financial sector, dominated by a handfull of internationally-operating banks (e.g. ABN Amro, ING, even Rabobank) for which the value of the assets of any single one alone exceeds the national GDP. It follows that developments here over the past six months or so have more-or-less echoed the more-prominent financial travails in, say, the US or Great Britain: overindulgence in promising new asset-classes – often involving American real estate – which then turn out to be “toxic,” concerns over solvency, government injections of capital through one means or another, and in general some rather poor performance on the part of financial executives when it comes to sober risk analysis and maintaining their institutions’ very financial viability.

What is also not missing from the Dutch experience is the phenomenon that has gotten much of the American and British public exercised in recent weeks, namely that of financial executives walking away with huge monetary bonuses in the face of what is commonly understood as the meaning of “bonus” (“paid over and above base salary to reward extraordinary performance”) and the glaring absence of any merit that would justify them. (more…)

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