Friday, February 10, 2012

If bankers want to end complaints about pay they will provide ultra transparency

If bankers want to end complaints about their pay from politicians, regulators and the public, they will have their banks provide ultra transparency.

When market participants can see what risks a bank is taking to make money, pay becomes much less of an issue.  Particularly when high pay is associated with low risk and high earnings.

Absent ultra transparency, there is no reason to believe that bankers aren't receiving high pay that is associated with high risk and low earnings.  A combination that is particularly troubling to shareholders.

In fact, current disclosure practices leave banks in the Bank of England's Andrew Haldane's words resembling 'black boxes'.  What everyone sees is how bankers are extracting high levels of compensation from those black boxes.  What no one sees is how the bankers are earning the money to justify those compensation levels.

What concerns everyone is that bankers insist on opacity.  Why?  If, they are making money in the low risk, real economy serving manner they claim, they should be happy to provide ultra transparency and prove it.

Otherwise, the behavior of Wall Street associated with the subprime crisis and deals like Abacus means that everyone needs to assume that bankers are making money by looting society under the cover of opacity.

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