x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Say goodbye to the Age of Restraint

Comment After hand-wringing and recriminations, chief executives and banking bosses look set to do what they do best: reward themselves handsomely.

The Age of Restraint, if it ever existed, ended abruptly this week. After hand-wringing and recriminations, chief executives and banking bosses look set to do what they do best: reward themselves handsomely. It is clear that whether or not greed played a hand in causing the Great Recession, those responsible, after declaring that it must never happen again, are carrying on as if nothing has happened.

While one can only admire the chutzpah of Goldman Sachs's Lloyd Blankfein, does he really need many more millions? Yes, no doubt he has admirers to satisfy, but couldn't their expectations be curtailed? Marc Bolland's compensation at Marks & Spencer is more complicated. M&S clearly had no option but to pay him for what he already had been promised. And City investors also liked the fact that he was joining Middle England's favourite retailer: M&S shares soared 5 per cent on the news, while Morrison's dipped by a similar amount, a swing of £600 million (Dh3.51 billion), leaving Britain's tabloid press to dub him the "billion dollar man". Now he has to deliver.

The case for Adam Crozier is less clear. He was widely derided while at the Football Association, vilified at the Royal Mail, and his appointment at ITV has been greeted with scorn. "And who were the other candidates, one wonders?" asked a reader on The Guardian website. "Piers Morgan? Mr Bean? One of the Plasticine animals from Creature Comforts? Any of them would do a better job than Adam Crozier."

Nobody argues with people being paid colossal sums if they perform well. But the trouble with raising the bar this high is that inferior talent feels it needs rewarding, too. @Email:rwright@thenational.ae