Blankfein vs. Dougan — Compensation Smackdown!

Word comes from Credit Suisse that Brady Dougan, the Chief Executive of that fine fiduciary institution, earned $17.9 million in 2009, which is six times more than he made in 2008. This makes good sense. 2009 was a much better year than 2008, and any fair evaluation of compensation should account for that. Also, Mr. Dougan’s comp is pretty much consonant with the nuts and berries that were paid to execs at a variety of financial powerhouses, all of whom worked very hard last year.

Still, if I was Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, I’d be a little peeved. Jack Kent Cooke, titan from the pre-Cambrian epoch of saurian life, once said that money was only a way of keeping score. This was a piquant observation for those who still need it to pay for groceries and housing, but all carnivores at a certain evolutionary level understood what he meant. Beyond a certain point, it’s all about whose bonus is bigger. And by that yardstick, I’m thinking Blankfein has a beef. He only made $9.6 million last year. That’s barely $5 million after taxes. Hardly seems worth showing up.

He’d have plenty of help if he chose to make a stink. Last year’s bonus payments on Wall Street plunged more than 12% to an average of only $812,800.  There’s very little of note that you can do with that, other than bank it and hope for a better 2010. The good news is that the way things are going in Washington, that’s a pretty safe bet for anybody in the financial business, if for nobody else.

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