How many workers is one Galia Maor worth?
How do huge salaries and retirement payouts for banking executives strengthen the stability of Israeli banks and safeguard the stability of the economy?
Galia Maor is just like you. She was created, like you, in the image of God. She feels cold in winter and hot in summer; when she is insulted, she feels sad and when praise is heaped on her, she beams. She loves her children, and at the end of the day, like you, she merely wants to get home safely.
But Maor, who stepped down from the position of CEO of Bank Leumi this year, will receive a grant of NIS 3.25 million from the bank she has just left, in return for a commitment not to work for any other Israeli bank. And you? You will have to tolerate a prolonged erosion in wages without opening your mouth, because you have to hang onto your job with your fingernails.
Maor is debating whether to get most of her retirement package (which, according to estimates, has so far reached NIS 12.8 million) in large chunks, or receive a monthly stipend of more than NIS 130,000 for the rest of her life. You, on the other hand, will have to scratch around to find the NIS 2,000 you don’t have to pay your monthly rent (which has once again gone up) or pay your child’s kindergarten.
Maor earned NIS 218,000 per month when she was working (not including benefits and various supplements) and she will get a similar sum during the next nine months when she is not working. You earn, on the average, NIS 8,774 per month according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, while right now, on the eve of a possible slide into recession, it is not clear whether or not this sum will be pushed down further.
What are the reasons for these tremendous gaps? Are Maor’s management skills so special that they are worth millions even when they are not being used? Are Maor and her managerial colleagues bionic creatures who feed on the nectar of the gods that gives them superhuman abilities? A more reasonable explanation seems to be that Maor is the CEO of an Israeli bank and you are the customer who finances the incomprehensible salaries for her and her colleagues at the top in bank management. Because according to the economic Darwinism that rules this country, one Maor is worth hundreds of anonymous workers who have to open an account at one of the banks to receive their (eroded) salaries.
The governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, and many others in the economic system work day and night to maintain and strengthen the financial stability of the banks, and are proud of this stability compared with what is happening in other parts of the world. The bank fees that you pay, they say, are not so high and are essential for maintaining the banks’ profitability. If the banks collapse, we will very soon find ourselves in a national economic catastrophe, and everyone will lose out. Look what happened in Europe, in Greece, and look how everything here is stable and growing.
Maor will get a package of millions with her retirement. Her replacement, Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, will enjoy an annual salary that will reach NIS 4.2 million (an austerity-era salary compared with that of Eli Yunes at Bank Mizrahi Tefahot). For at least nine months, Bank Leumi − the only bank in which a tycoon does not have a controlling interest − will pay salaries dozens of times higher than the average national wage to two CEOs, one of whom has the job of not working.
How exactly do these monstrous numbers strengthen the stability of the banks? In what way do they safeguard the stability of the Israeli economy? And how about the fees, the interest and heavy fines on every delay in returning a loan, or any deviance from our credit schedule, that we are required to pay (as opposed to the minute profits the banks give us on our deposits)? Does all this not mainly strengthen the financial status of Galia Maor and her colleagues?