CEOs who built the financial house of cards should return ill-gotten compensation

The New York Times ran an excellent story on Sunday analyzing the payouts to top executives at seven ailing financial firms from 2005 . The net total: $464 million. Yet since 2007, those firms have lost in excess of $107 billion.

This story is different from other analyses of bonus payments, most notably the 2008 outlays. The Times story correctly notes, in my view, that the executives who earned all that money in those allegedly profitable days — when firms began heavily pushing subprime mortgage lending — should be returning what are clearly ill-gotten goods. As I’ve written before, most of the people left on Wall Street are scrambling to fix what their predecessors destroyed. Let’s aim our opprobrium at the true villains.

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