Boys who cried wolf (about top people’s pay) have cause to complain
Here’s one that had me choking on my cornflakes. The FT’s normally excellent Stefan Stern, writing today about the recent outrage about Lehman Bros CEO Dick Fuld’s vast earnings, says: “we didn’t hear many complaints when the economy was healthy,” which is a statement so infuriatingly wrong and complacent as to cause outrage all on its own.
Many people were indeed complaining about the humongous trouserings going on in the financial community (trade unions, poverty campaigners, lefty politicians, ordinary human beings etc) long before the masters of the universe were so spectacularly ‘exposed’.
Those voices were ignored because, I assume, the views expressed were considered to be wrong or unimportant – but you don’t have to agree with a statement to report it, and if Stefan thinks the complaints or the complainants were unimportant then, a bit of humility now would not go amiss. But then that’s a sentiment that applies to just about the whole of the upper ranks of the financial industry.
Still, the rest of the column made good points about the failures of management that led to the current crisis, although I think the biggest failure was the masters of the universe believing that they were, in fact, masters of the universe. Which they weren’t. And now we know.