In his most recent letter to shareholders Warren Buffett suggests that bank CEOs and board members be held accountable when the risks they take (and reward themselves obscenely for when they payoff) backfire:
the financial consequences for him and his board should be severe.
It has not been shareholders who have botched the operations of some of our country’s largest financial institutions. Yet they have borne the burden, with 90% or more of the value of their holdings wiped out in most cases of failure. Collectively, they have lost more than $500 billion in just the four largest financial fiascos of the
last two years. To say these owners have been “bailed-out” is to make a mockery of the term.
The CEOs and directors of the failed companies, however, have largely gone unscathed. Their fortunes may have been diminished by the disasters they oversaw, but they still live in grand style. It is the behavior of these CEOs and directors that needs to be changed: If their institutions and the country are harmed by their
recklessness, they should pay a heavy price – one not reimbursable by the companies they’ve damaged nor by insurance. CEOs and, in many cases, directors have long benefitted from oversized financial carrots; some meaningful sticks now need to be part of their employment picture as well.
The lack of accountability or ethics from those risking the economy so they can take huge payments (and paying off politicians to allow those risks) has hugely damaged the USA and the economic future of the country. The longer we allow such unethical leadership to continue to the more we will suffer. The current low interest paid to savers and the wealth thus transferred to the banks (who then pay themselves even more bonuses) are but one legacy of this economically devastating path.
By the way, there is no way the bankers will actually be held accountable. The behavior of politicians we continually elect shows they will not do something that those giving them the huge amounts of cash don’t like. If we don’t like that we have to elect different people – maybe people that care about the country and have moral principles instead of those lacking such qualities, that we do elect.
The politicians believe in holding those that don’t give them huge payments accountable for their actions. They just draw the line at holding people that they play golf with accountable.
Related: CEOs Plundering Corporate Coffers – Credit Crisis the Result of Planned Looting of the World Economy – The Best Way to Rob a Bank is as An Executive at One – Fed Continues Wall Street Welfare – Political Favors for Rich Donors – Why Pay Taxes or be Honest