Greed is good

I spotted these just before Christmas, but didn’t get around to blogging them:

Millionaires factory keeps smiling minus the bonuses.

A $1 BILLION cut in the bonus pool split by Macquarie Group’s 13,800 staff, including the controversial multimillion-dollar rewards received by its senior executives, helped the investment bank deliver a better-than-expected half-year profit, it emerged yesterday.

The cut still allowed for $1.3 billion to be distributed as bonuses – an average of $94,000 per employee. Of course this would be split more unevenly in practice. Before the cuts, the average would have been$173,000 per employee. Hardly “minus the bonuses” as the headline suggests…

But then comes the news:

Macquarie Bank sacks 100 investment bankers.

MACQUARIE Group has sacked almost 100 investment bankers and advisers in a savage day of job cutting across the diversified bank.

…There were suggestions yesterday that Macquarie could end up cutting up to 1000 of its 13,000 employees around the world.

$1.3 billion in bonuses (which of course must be much smaller than the company’s profits) followed by 100 sackings. Seems the “greed is good” mentality is still alive and well.

The cash bonus mechanism rewards short-term thinking with sometimes obscene amounts of cash. Seems to me if the bonus schemes were more long-term focused (e.g. share options and other mechanisms), rewarding employees based on the long-term profitability and viability of the business, perhaps the rush to sub-prime investments would have been tempered with more cautious risk analysis.