Steve and Jonah, may I offer a word or two in defense of Richard Grasso?
1. A decade ago, it was an open question whether the New York Stock Exchange would–or could–remain of any importance in the emerging economy. NASDAQ was running ads touting itself as the exchange “for the next hundred years,” and plenty of people, even those who worked at the Big Board itself, believed the future did indeed belong to NASDAQ and other electronic exchanges. Grasso instituted reforms and placed the Big Board on the offensive–and today it remains the world’s preeminent exchange, a rigorous, self-policing institution that everyday engages in the rapid and efficient allocation of staggering amounts of capital.
A poor little writer like yours truly may gag when he contemplates the amounts of money that folks on Wall Street pull down every year. But given the vast sums paid to top executives at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Travellers, and other major financial institutions, are you really prepared to argue that Grasso’s compensation is somehow out of line?
2. The New York Stock Exchange is a private institution. Whose business is it whatever it decides to pay Richard Grasso?