Some see the beginning of the end for huge compensation for financial titans. Others say the limits are too weak to bring real change.
But if either company takes part in the federal government's $700 billion rescue plan for financial firms, Mr. Blankfein and Mr. Diamon may have to be content with $500,000 a year, or their company will have to pay higher taxes.
While it's not likely this will cause either man to skimp on meals, the proposed mandate shows the depth of animosity toward highly paid executives on Wall Street. Some compensation consultants wonder, in fact, if the clampdown may be the leading edge of a shift away from the enormous pay packages of the past decade.
"Executive pay rates and Wall Street in particular have reached extraordinary heights," says John Challenger of Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based executive outplacement firm. "We may be at the point where the pendulum is beginning to shift."
No doubt about it, financial executives have made a bundle – sometimes pocketing multimillion-dollar packages while their companies were taking losses that had been run up on their watch. Among them: Charles Prince, former head of Citigroup, ended up with "accumulated benefits" of $29 million; Stanley O'Neal, who ran Merrill Lynch & Co., got $161 million in accumulated benefits, and Martin Sullivan of AIG received a severance package of $47 million.
Page 1 of 4