In an interview with Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration's pay czar, The Hill leads with one highly intriguing anecdote.
A Wall Street executive reportedly asked Feinberg why he was paying him only $9 million per year. The financier asked, "Why don't you like me?"
This anecdote would be entirely forgettable if it weren't for one very prominent banker who's making only $9 million per year. Interestingly, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein received "only" $9 million this year in the form of a stock grant. Blankfein's bonus was widely seen as a barometer for executive pay on Wall Street, and many predicted he would receive between $15 - $20 million. In 2007, Blankfein's pay package totaled $70 million.
Was Feinberg actually referring to Blankfein?
To be fair, Goldman Sachs paid back its $10 billion in TARP funds (with interest) and was not under Feinberg's direct purview when it set Blankfein's pay. But, Feinberg previously issued a sly dig at Blankfein's $9 million payday, and has said that Goldman Sachs consulted with him and listened to him regarding executive compensation in general.
Here's more from The Hill:
"I always expected that Wall Street and Main Street weren't going to be on the same page [regarding compensation]," Feinberg said. "The same page? They're not on the same universe..."
"They really do believe they are entitled to $9 million. That's the problem," Feinberg said.
Feinberg was given the highly unenviable task of having to arbitrate between the multimillion-dollar demands of Wall Street executives and the concerns of a public outraged by bailouts and resurgent bank profits. Worse, Feinberg has complained that his biggest disappointment was that he had no direct enforceable power over the pay at many financial firms -- what he called his "narrow jurisdiction."
Check out this video from The Hill: