On the other side of the Atlantic, Barack Obama has had a clearer eye about what he is dealing with, and therefore a firmer grasp of what needs to be done. The president, being new to office and of a younger generation than Gordon Brown, is not trapped by the past compromises with casino capitalism which were made by the prime minister and other centre-left leaders of his vintage. Obama did not hesitate. He crisply told bankers that their salaries would be capped and that they could forget about pocketing any more bonuses until the taxpayers had got their money back.
There\’s one very large difference between this situation and that of Fred the Shred.
Obama has capped future salaries and bonuses. He has not attempted to, as he knows he should and could not, breach already extant contractual payments, the defered compensation already owed.
Further, a little wrinkle in that no bonus point. What he\’s said is that cash bonuses would not be paid. Only bonuses that are paid in restricted stock or the equivalent will be allowed. You know, the sort of bonus that British banks are already paying to the likes of Bob Diamond.