Have you tuned out the shrill, interminable debate about incentives for executives in banks, from CEOs down? It's an ill-informed and increasingly misdirected and distracting hubbub.
We are told short-term incentives promoted foolish risk-taking, causing financial crisis. Ridiculous. Angelo Mozilo's drive to achieve a 30% market share in mortgage originations wasn't fueled by desire for immediate financial rewards. He was the longest of long-term investors, starting in 1984 or earlier. Likewise, Joe Cassano at AIG "earned" $280 million over a period of eight years by selling what proved to be disastrous credit-default swaps. He didn't have his head turned by one year's bonus calculation. The same was true for Wamu: Kerry Killinger is reported to have received $88 million from 2001 through 2007. So, let's skip the simplistic claptrap.