Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Wall Street Bonuses — Re-calibrating My Outrage

posted by Nell Minow

When I’m not being the Movie Mom, I am editor and chair of a small company based in Portland, Maine that evaluates corporate behavior and performance. I’ve had a lot to say recently about the billions of dollars paid out in bonuses to employees at the bailout companies on Wall Street.
On Friday, I appeared on the Lehrer Newshour on PBS, debating the wall street bonuses with a lawyer who specializes in executive compensation. The transcript and video clip are available online.
On Saturday, I was quoted in a Washington Post article about the reaction to the bonuses.
And I was also quoted in an Orange County Register article about the prospects for getting some of the Wall Street bonus money back.
Today I will moderate a panel discussion about the future of financial regulation at the Russell Senate Office Building and I am sure the issue of the bonuses will provoke an especially lively conversation.

  • jestrfyl

    Nell, I am the proud graduate of two of Maine’s educational institutions, as well as a former citizen for 8 years. You are bold to trod those snowy streets this time of year!
    I am also outraged by the bonuses. There is no justification for paying bonuses to people whose companies have performed so poorly. Saying that you cannot get people to do the work for less is meaningless – they aren’t doing the work now! No one in a lower ecehlon of the business would be so compensated or rewarded. It is utter foolishness to even try to defend these packages.
    I am reminded of Gecko’s “Soliloquy on Greed” from “Wall Street”. There is a reason why that speech was given by the villain/protagonist of the film. It does not really defend greed.
    It is time to stop accepting, “that’s the way we’ve always done it” as an excuse for stupidity. It is now time to do a new thing, to expect responsibility and accountability, and if a corporation fails to meet expectations, those who lead it should experience that failure as well. Employment at that level is in many ways a gamble and not a guarantee. If the company does well, so will the employees. But if the company fails, especially because it was poorly led, then that failure should be felt first at the “top”.
    Go to it – I am not simply behind you – I am with you all the way!!

  • Alicia

    That’s a wonderful segment on The News Hour, Nell. I’m very impressed with the way you manage to wear three hats with such panache – doing great work with the Corporate Library, great work as “Movie Mom” and, I’m sure, a great mom as well.
    I sense a thread of encouraging responsiblity and accountability. We could use more of that in our society today. Keep up the great work!

  • Nell Minow

    Thank you so much, Alicia! And you are right that the theme of responsibility and accountability — and making information available to encourage both — is central to all of my careers!

  • Lynn

    I just watched the clip on the News Hour, and I couldn’t agree more with what you said. We just got the word a couple of weeks ago that the pool for our merit increases [base salary increases] will be smaller than last year, though our company is well-managed, i.e., conservatively managed, and has not taken the hits other firms in our field have experienced. I asked, “Does this mean that Mr. CEO is also biting the bullet with the rest of us?” [It will be interesting to see if he is, once that information becomes public knowledge.]
    I am not holding my breath.

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