24/7 Wall St. – Citigroup has gone to the Treasury to beg for bonuses for some of its most important traders, people who make the banks extraordinary amounts of money. The Treasury’s reaction will probably be that it wants to stay out of a fight with Congress and avoid negative public opinion and will turn the request down.
That would be a mistake.
Wall St.’s primary argument for keeping a high level of compensation for its best investment bankers and traders is that, if they leave, overall losses at banks could get worse. People can be profit centers. The most successful ones help offset the red ink created by the series of poor decisions that big financial firms made about mortgage-backed paper and commercial credit loans. It is easy to assess the value of the best traders by looking at a bank’s books.