Dean Baker
TPMCafé (Talking Points Memo), December 25, 2008

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I hate to play scrooge on Christmas, but $160k for part-time work seems a bit steep. The WAPO reported this would be the pay for Fannie Mae's new 10-person board of directors today.

The remarkable part of this story is that the Washington Post did not cite anyone in this piece who raised a question about the compensation levels for the board. Keep in mind that this is a newspaper that is absolutely apoplectic over autoworkers getting $27 an hour. If we assume that the board members on average will devote 500 hours a year to their duties, this puts their pay rate at $320 an hour.

If this board kept the mortgage giant from doing really stupid things, like taking on risky real estate loans in the middle of a housing bubble, then perhaps they would be worth this pay. But none of the new members were especially visible among those warning of the housing bubble, and several board members are carryovers from the prior board, which apparently slept through the housing bubble and Fannie's collapse.

Given the amount of ink that the Post has devoted to the question of whether autoworkers at the Big Three are overpaid, it is incredible that this issue was never even raised in the context of Fannie's new board.

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer. He also has a blog on the American Prospect, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues.