March 22, 2009

FINANCIAL TIMES: Banker fury over tax ‘witch-hunt’.

Bankers on Wall Street and in Europe have struck back against moves by US lawmakers to slap punitive taxes on bonuses paid to high earners at bailed-out institutions.

Senior executives on both sides of the Atlantic on Friday warned of an exodus of talent from some of the biggest names in US finance, saying the “anti-American” measures smacked of “a McCarthy witch-hunt” that would send the country “back to the stone age”. . . . “There are three big industries where the US has global leadership: financial services, media and technology. Introducing this 90 per cent tax is like taking one of those industries out the back and shooting it,” said a top Wall Street executive.

In Frankfurt one employee at a US investment bank said the new tax measures would “send [the US] back to the stone age”.

“Commodity traders are already moving to companies like BP where they can make as much money as they used to,” said another banker at a US firm.

Bankers at Deutsche Bank said it could benefit from the proposed legislation by poaching its US rivals’ most talented employees.

This will end well.

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News editorializes: Congressional Democrats’ bonus witch hunt will sink N.Y. “The tax plan approved by the House as revenge against a handful of obscenely greedy AIG executives would slam tens of thousands in the financial industry, many of them New Yorkers, who have nothing to do with AIG or any other wrongdoing. And that would be just start of the collateral damage. The levies are so draconian that major banks that took bailout money are threatening to give it back – defeating the purpose of jump-starting the economy with an influx of cash.”

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