Some banker was talking on Radio 4 earlier about how, if we're getting out of the recession, it will be because the banking system is sorted out. Yup, for sure. He also said bonuses were vital for attracting the best talent.
Nope. I know some bankers in the city, as it happens. I like most of them, who I knew before they were bankers, and they haven't changed all that much. They're clever, but they're just these guys. Read any book ever written about bankers, and that's what you see - they are in a profession where people are paid insane amounts of money, and they are not more brilliant than doctors and civil servants, comedians or city lawyers. Like the rest, they go to work, battle with office politics, spend their days daydreaming about who fancies them and wishing they were on holiday, and so on and so forth. They're just paid more. If they got bonuses of £150k instead of £1m, to go with their six figure salaries, I find it hard to imagine we would lose many of them. They say they'd take their skills elsewhere. Where? Dubai?
Basically, if you pay people a safe £250k a year, you'll get people infinitisemally worse, if they are worse at all, than if you pay people a safe £1m a year.* Bankers aren't mostly supervillains and they are not unbelievable geniuses, they're just these guys, and they're doing a ludicrously remunerative job, and, human nature being what it is, they overvalue themselves.
No one will pay them more for what they do. And lots of other people could do what they could do. They're just these guys.
* I know £250k is a ton of money. Believe me, I know. I don't know what the right figure is. I think the banking system is very important and not much fun to work in, so you need to pay a lot of money to get good people to do it instead of more fun jobs. I have no problem with bankers being highly paid. But they need to get a grip, because a fraction of the money they currently earn would attract other people who are just as good as these guys, because these guys are just these guys. I don't want to labour the point.**
** I could be wrong about all this. I'm just this guy. But I don't think I'm wrong.