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Banking

Greed, moral compasses and stock options

Cablevision has given the term necrophilia – as in an attraction towards corpses – a whole new meaning.

You have been warned. I am at my most cantankerous. My back, which has a tendency to be delicate, is threatening to go into spasm. This is a result of several years of over-enthusiastic dancing: a passion I share with HSBC’s Asian head of private banking, Monica Wong. My ill-humour has been exacerbated by researching the stock option backdating scandal in the US. As I hobble around my flat, I mutter to myself: “I don’t believe it. I simply don’t believe it.” Think: youthful, female impersonation of the curmudgeon Victor Meldrew featured in the television series One foot in the grave. Why are most human beings so greedy? Is this nature or nurture? Adam was tempted by an apple (more of apples later). A baby wails and waves his legs in fury if he is not fed and some married men indulge in extra-curricular activities on the basis that one woman is not enough. And why can’t senior executives be satisfied with plump pay cheques? According to the Economist, the typical American chief executive now earns 300 times the average wage, up tenfold from the 1970s.

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