Why Feinberg Report Isn't a Waste

The Wall Street pay watchdog has no teeth, but his bark is still worth something.
Publish date:



) -- Bet you didn't know this: Executives in the financial services industry are overpaid.

That's the conclusion Kenneth Feinberg, the Treasury's watchdog on pay, is expected to reach in a report that will be released Friday,

The New York Times



Specifically, Feinberg will name 17 companies that made $1.58 billion in excessive payments to executives immediately after receiving government assistance under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The offenders include giant institutions like


(C) - Get Report


Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report


JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report



(AIG) - Get Report

as well as smaller companies like

Boston Private Financial Holdings


, the



Feinberg can't do anything about these pay practices except make recommendations, which the companies in question are likely to ignore for the most part.

Since Feinberg's report states the obvious, and has no teeth, it is tempting to call it a waste of taxpayer money.

The financial crisis has given us many of these reports, and more are on the way. Not all of them rebuke Wall Street. At the request of Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.),

the Securities and Exchange Commission's inspector general is investigating

whether President Obama used the Commission as a political tool, timing announcements about its fraud charges and eventual settlement with Goldman Sachs to coincide with efforts to pass financial reform legislation.

Again, duh!

As I have stated previously

, the timing of the SEC's announcements was more than suspicious, it was downright

in your face

. We don't need a report to tell us this.

But guess what, folks? In countries that don't commission such reports, far greater abuses occur. The cost of running Feinberg's office, or that of the SEC inspector general, is a small price to pay for democracy. Of course, the reports those offices produce will be used to score political points. But as long as both sides are scoring, we're not in such bad shape.


Written by Dan Freed in New York


Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.