HOT BLAST: CEO makes bad civil rights-era analogy
Sep 25, 2013 | 1236 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
The floor of the New York Stock Exchange last week. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
In its introduction of an exclusive interview with Robert Benmosche, CEO of American International Group (perhaps better known as "AIG"), the Wall Street Journal notes, "Mr. Benmosche explained why he thought the treatment of some AIG employees was akin to abuses from the civil-rights era."

Say what? Run that past us one more time.

Some context: After the deep financial crisis five years ago this month, the federal government bailed out large financial institutions lest their collapse drag down the entire U.S. economy, or so the argument went. Critics saw it differently. To them it looked as if the Wall Street bigshots who played a huge role in crisis by their wild and irresponsible speculation were being rewarded for bad behavior. Despite this, the bailed-out companies didn't see any reason to stop paying its top producers huge bonuses. (See David Cay Johnston or Matt Taibbi for more.)

Which brings us to the Journal's interview with Benmosche where he said:

The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that–sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.

“We wouldn’t be here today had they not stayed and accepted … dramatically reduced pay. … They really contributed an enormous amount [to AIG’s survival] and proved to the world they are good people. It is a shame we put them through that.”


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