Exercising questionable authority, the Obama Administration is ordering (via Treasury) bailout firms to dramatically reduce executive level pay and bonuses.
Couple of thoughts...
1. When you sleep with dogs... These bailout firms should have known better! Hopefully the government will soon get out of private enterprise, but if it doesn't, some of these firms would have been better off failing. Failure would have allowed bankruptcy protection/restructuring and at worst would have left market share in the free market rather than under government control.
2. We can't expect recovery when the best talent can't be compensated. Do you work for free? Neither do I and the best execs expect a paycheck as well. You can disagree with the amount of compensation all day long. If companies can't pay, they can't attract the talent necessary to recover. This is especially important given that most Wall Street firms, and some big banks, still have bad assets on their sheets. Should interest rates rise, or the mark-to-market rules changes, we'll see fall '08 all over again.
3. The market knows the free market can't recover with this level of government intervention and the Dow demonstrates this. As soon as news of the exec comp limits was released the market went from around +50 to close at -92.12 in about 45 minutes!!!