Audit Notes: Not-So-Sharp Claws, Eighty Cents, A+!

Charlie Gasparino scoops that pay czar Ken Feinberg is going to try to claw back some 2008 banker bonuses later this week.

Only there’s a big problem with that:

Feinberg… cannot force banks to repay the money

However, as part of that authority, Feinberg can call on the banks that received bailout funds to repay bonuses doled out in 2008. Though his power is limited in this regard to using the bully pulpit of his office, banks may chose to give bonus money back to the federal government rather than face the political fallout.

Still, interesting.

The New York Times looked this weekend at an American apparel company making clothes in the Dominican Republic and paying an actual living wage—three-and-a-half times the minimum wage—and asks “but can it thrive?”

Mr. Bozich says the factory’s cost will be $4.80 a T-shirt, 80 cents or 20 percent more than if it paid minimum wage. Knights will absorb a lower-than-usual profit margin, he said, without asking retailers to pay more at wholesale.

Paying these Dominican workers fair wages adds eighty cents to the cost of a T-shirt. Eighty cents! And the Times, in its headline, has to ask (with reason) whether the American marketplace can take such an insult.

— Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post has a hilarious take on a Goldman Sachs (which is an Audit funder) executive’s commencement speech at NYU.

Here’s the money quote (h/t Felix Salmon) from Mass’s speech:

I’ve learned to accept that I cannot be an A+ at everything every day … but I’ve also learned that I CAN be an A, on average, over the course of a week in my life.

Linkins nicely threads this stuff with Yves Smith’s recent Baffler piece describing the incredible grind of life as an I-banker. Which brings him to his headline:

I Don’t Know About You, But Working At Goldman Sachs Sounds Like A Harrowing, Existential Ordeal


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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.