German Chancellor Joins in Critique of Executive Bonuses | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 14.02.2009
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German Chancellor Joins in Critique of Executive Bonuses

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined in the criticism of big bonuses being paid to the executives of banks which are receiving government aid during the financial crisis.

executives and money

Big bonuses for execs in dire economic times are not sitting well with German politicians

"It's incomprehensible that banks which the state is propping up are in many cases paying out enormous bonuses," Merkel told the news weekly Der Spiegel in an article published on Saturday, Feb. 14, adding that the subject would be up for discussion at a summit of the G20 nations in London in April.

The G20 group comprises the world's largest economies.

Merkel, head of the conservative Christian Democrats, called for bonus systems to be "internationally more explicitly linked to the genuinely sustainable business success of banks."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, member of the center-left Social Democrats, expressed a similar sentiment.

Barack Obama

"Outrageous" was how US President Obama described Wall Street's billion-dollar bonuses in 2008

"The detachment from reality and the cynicism of executives continues to shock me. Executives are role models -- in both good and bad ways," he said.

The German politicians join other leaders, such as US President Barack Obama, who said the billions in bonuses that Wall Street bankers had awarded themselves for 2008 was "outrageous."

Growing anger

Resentment in Germany toward bankers, who are largely perceived as having caused the global financial crisis, is growing. Even in late 2007, before the full extent of the financial crisis was realized, Germany was debating whether compensation for executives had gotten out of control.

Then, Merkel did not argue with executives being "well paid," as long as they "did a lot for their companies."

But in the wake of the global economic meltdown, attitudes have hardened.

Berlin has already agreed on a package of reforms aimed at curbing executive pay. One would hold supervisory boards as a whole, rather than sub-committees, liable for pay packages for high-ranking managers that were "inappropriate."

The German government has already pushed through a 500-billion-euro ($630-billion) rescue package for German banks.

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