Ha. I wimped out of “bonii” cos I wasn’t sure of my grammar. Anyway: Bankers are this year’s terrorists, who were last year’s paedophiles, who were the year before’s witches. Which is to say, everyone appears to be convinced that they are deeply evil and the heavy hand of government is needed (although opinions differ as to quite how heavy). This is perfectly natural: whoever may have been responsible for the Great Financial Disaster that is, errm, having such huge impacts on us all, err, everyone is convinced that it certainly wasn’t them to blame. So if you’re a politician it can’t possibly have been a failure of regulation, so that means it must be the bankers fault, so they had better suffer.
Whilst this makes sense as politics, it makes no sense in the real world. The most telling reason is the excuse given for the need to all the G20 to do this at once, rather than for individual countries doing it if they feel like it: it would put their financial centers at a competitive disadvantage. Why would it do this? Because they wouldn’t be able to attract the top financial talent? Why would this put them at a disadvantage? Because for all the silly talk, the governments know that the bankers earn more for their firms and the coountries that they are based in than they cost in bonuses. If that wasn’t true, there would be no competitive disadvantage. Ergo, the entire argument is twaddle.
Having said that, there is (I think) a problem with the bonus system, which does seem somewhat out of control (though I don’t think it had much to do with the current Crisis). The correct people to address this problem are those people who are seeing some of their dividends diverted into bonuses and pay, which is to say the shareholders of the banks. In the UK, in a few cases, the majority shareholder is the govt, in which case they can do something and should, if that is what they believe.