I recommend all of Taibbi’s response to poor widdle rich boy Jake DeSantis (and implicit, richly deserved attack on everybody who swallowed his story uncritically). But this point is particularly important:
Also, there’s this: let’s just say, Jake, that you’re telling the truth, that you don’t know anything about this toxic portfolio. If that’s the case, then why the fuck does anyone need to retain you at an exorbitant salary to help unwind that very portfolio? If these transactions aren’t and never were your expertise, then where the hell is your value here?
When I spoke to Christine Pretto, the AIG spokeswoman, and asked about those bonuses, she said that AIG needed to retain people like you in order to take advantage of your “knowledge of these transactions.” So if you don’t have knowledge of these transactions, what are you being paid for? Your winning attitude?
Right. Basically, the “only these geniuses have the very specific knowledge necessary to unwind these trades” rationalization for the bonuses is fatally destroyed by the concurrent “don’t look at them, they didn’t do it” rationalization. DeSantis can’t have it both ways. Either the trades can be unwound by any generic “good trader,” or he bears substantial responsibility for his division losing a billion dollars a week. Either way, the idea that the taxpayers owe him a 7-figure bonus is beyond absurd.