Is 'Bonus' a Dirty Word?

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An eFinancialCareers survey this month indicates that two out of three financial services professionals employed in the U.S. expect to get a bonus this year, and more than one in three expect their bonus will be bigger than last year's.

Politicians are outraged at the idea of anyone in finance receiving any bonus at all for 2008. One of the most powerful lawmakers in the country on financial matters, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, last week called for "a moratorium on bonuses...for all firms'' in the banking and finance industry - not just for those getting taxpayer assistance under recent rescue legislation. Henry Waxman, who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, this week sent nine big banks a letter questioning the "appropriateness" of paying bonuses.

Are you confident that public officials who rail against bonuses are for the most part concerned with punishing that subset of bankers who might reasonably be adjudged to bear substantial responsibility for the current financial crisis - that is, senior executives at a few institutions where wrongdoing or massive negligence is likely to be found?

Or, do officials like Frank and Waxman sound more like they're trying to scapegoat you, your teammates and hundreds of thousands of other hard-working Wall Street professionals, in order to score easy points with angry voters?

Who would you rather make decisions about your pay: Your boss (with guidance from senior management and pressure from shareholders) - or an elected official like Barney Frank?

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