Top Firm Told To Give Up Bonuses

Bonus For Failur

Reuters reports that dozens of demonstrators jeered attendees arriving for the start of Euro Finance Week in Frankfurt Monday.

The protesters, who were complaining about the bail-out of the financial system, included two men dressed as vampires and standing on stilts.

But that was just a sideshow to what was kicking off in Washington. Around 100 protesters hit on Goldman's offices in the US capital, bearing 'Wanted' signs with the face of Lloyd Blankfein, the firm's CEO, on them. The protest was organised by the Service Employees International Union. The Financial Times quotes Charlotte Dots, a reverend from Bloomington, Illinois, who said: 'I've watched my congregants lose their homes and their jobs. All while Goldman Sachs plays our economy like a casino'.

The crowd were also carrying a large homemade vampire squid puppet (a reference to the Rolling Stone article which described Goldman as 'a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity'), and chanted: 'Who's got the money ? They got the money! We got the bill!!'.

The protesters handed in a letter to Goldman's office, addressed to Blankfein, that urged him to donate the firm's multi-billion dollar bonus pot this year to help the underprivileged in America, pointing out that the amount the firm's bankers will make off with this year-end would prevent every expected US mortgage foreclosure in 2010, and lift one million US families out of poverty.

In the meantime, US pay czar Ken Feinberg told Reuters that he would have to rethink his new pay guidelines in the event that the companies under his purview (which include AIG, Citi and Bank of America) started to leak top talent. Feinberg said: 'If I saw mass exodus, which I do not anticipate, that would require me to rethink some of the basic assumptions that have entered into my determination'.

And firms like AIG, Bank of America, Citi, Goldman and JPMorgan Chase are among several banks that have now entered the 'too big to fail' debate. In a joint letter to Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, the banks says that the introduction of legislation to break-up large financial institutions 'could lead to long-term damage to the US economy'. The banks point out that 'to be sure, 'too big to fail' must be eliminated, but the problem is not that some institutions are too large. It's that there is currently no legal authority to unwind, in an orderly manner, a failing financial conglomerate'.

Over in the UK, the Evening Standard reports the view that providing UK market regulator The Financial Services Authority with the authority to tear up bank pay contracts could end up destroying the city. The newspaper quotes Clive Zeitman, head of commercial litigation at Stewarts Law, who said: 'All this is very politically correct and topical. But it would be ludicrous (to) introduce such draconian legislation. If you disincentivise the City, you will destroy it and that would be disastrous for everyone'.

And Sir George Mathewson, a former chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland, told the BBC: 'Interfering with contracts that have been reached between willing participants is a somewhat dangerous route to go down'.

But City Minister Lord Myners has got no time for the critics. He told The Times newspaper: 'People who are not willing to subordinate their own egos to the stability of their companies, or the financial system, probably shouldn't carry out activities in deposit-taking banks'.

And Deutsche Bank has become the latest firm to confirm that it will introduce a clawback on bonuses. Bloomberg reports that CEO Josef Ackermann told students in Frankfurt Monday that 'we will introduce a 'malus' system.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ackermann also said that politicians and regulators should tread carefully with global bank regulation, and suggested that a financial fund is established to enable banks to recapitalize and wind down troubled assets.

Finally. The Financial Times reports that Peter Sands, CEO of Standard Chartered, said that policymakers were 'kidding themselves' if they thought that higher capital and liquidity requirements would simply be absorbed by institutions and their shareholders. Sands said: 'The reality is that a lot of that incremental cost will just get passed on to their customers in terms of incremental pricing. This is not a risk-free, cost-free game here'.

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