WSJ “Hears” Another False Note from Wall Street

The Journal has a solid “Heard on the Street” this morning about how all the TARP carping by banks doesn’t pass the smell test.

The banks have moaned that the pay caps instituted since the taxpayer subsidies will push out all its “talent” to hedge funds or overseas banks.

Never mind that the financial industry’s not exactly covered with “Now Hiring” signs these days. As Kate Kelly writes:

So much for the TARP talent drain.

Goldman Sachs Group, J.P. Morgan Chase and others have made a point of signaling their determination to pay back government capital as soon as possible. But, so far at least, the much-feared exodus of Wall Street talent hoping to dodge pay curbs has proved a paper tiger.

I think I hear a collective “Shhhhh!” emanating from Wall Street.

The Journal runs down a list of more reasons why these guys are mostly happy to stay put. This is nicely understated:

Most made enough during the bull market to keep their kids in private schools, so they can survive a period of smaller bonuses.

Kelly understands that some things never change on Wall Street:

And even if funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program aren’t returned immediately, there is a belief that pay pressures will be temporary and institutions will find ways around them to look after key staff.

It’s important to note, as the Journal does, that there have been some losses, but much of that is just normal attrition:

But headhunters said that unlike in past years, they aren’t seeing heavy hitters go from major firm to major firm. The feared mass exodus to advisory boutiques, hedge funds and foreign banks such as Barclays and Deutsche Bank, which don’t face U.S. government pay restrictions, so far hasn’t occurred.

And the press needs to point that out. Good for the WSJ for doing so.

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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.