Big Bank Obesity Conundrum

by Chidem Kurdas

Is the Federal Reserve a hotbed of trustbusters? Fed officials (as well as some academics) have been calling for forcible downsizing of big banks . “I am of the belief personally that the power of the five largest banks is too concentrated,” Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president Richard Fisher said a few days ago during a visit to Mexico, according to news reports. He’s expressed similar views before, as has Thomas Hoenig, former president of the Kansas City Fed.

Here on ThinkMarkets Jerry O’Driscoll, a Federal Reserve veteran, wrote: “There is no conceivable efficiency gain that justifies the risk these gigantic, risky institutions impose on all of us,” Continue reading

Beating Bonuses into Risk Controls

by Chidem Kurdas

Deferred vesting of stock options is not a new idea—it gained currency amid the corporate scandals that emerged in the aftermath of the late 1990s stock bubble. It appears to be making more inroads at present, in the aftermath of the twin credit and property bubbles.

This growing practice is not confined to Wall Street, but financial firms are the forefront.  Given that bonuses, and hence stock awards, tend to be by far the largest portion of managers’ pay in the financial industry, the restrictions have the potential for curbing bad behavior in the future.

This may be the one useful result of public anger over outsize compensation and the political grandstanding it has occasioned. It could go some way to reduce the perverse incentive created by the government safety net and cheap federal loans, which are in effect an invitation to put the money to use in lucrative but hazardous ways. Continue reading