In the end, an adviser would say the client, no matter how foolish, is in charge. And that was the problem. The Bakers, who had built a $600 million business from scratch, appear to think that their advisers should have saved them from themselves and that they could negotiate a better deal than Goldman Sachs. That was a mistake.
The charges against … should put Wall Street on notice that the government will try to police markets that require trust among the participants in the absence of transparent price information. The defense of caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware, will not necessarily protect against criminal charges for fraud.
So why not, for example, put a ceiling on salaries and let clients reward good service, just as they do in restaurants? That could allow banker pay to shrink to a more realistic level.
The U.S. restaurant business even provides a model of sorts. The Fair Labor Standards Act lets an employer pay waiters below minimum wage as long as they earn a certain amount a month in tips. If the combined total remains below the minimum wage, the restaurant has to make up the difference.