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What is a banker worth?

Attitudes to pay can change sharply from one era to the next. We are now entering a period of greater restraint at the top. But is it just a pause? And how will it be enforced?

By Michael Prest   March 2009

Discuss this article at First Drafts, Prospect’s blog; and read James Alexander’s companion piece on banking’s bonus culture here

We are fascinated by what other people earn. But in recent months natural snoopiness has turned into political outrage. Taxpayers in many countries have seen funds that their governments have been forced to push through the front doors of banks, to save them from self-inflicted collapse, slipping out of the back door in big bonuses.

President Obama has introduced stringent limits on bonuses for executives of companies receiving federal aid. Governments across Europe have also responded to the popular mood with…

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