What is the Point of Fannie’s Directors?

In a world where an AIG offsite meeting can cause a public uproar, it’s interesting that so few people seem to care very much about the sums of money being paid to Fannie Mae’s directors. Dean Baker, of course is one of them:

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 board duties, this puts their pay rate at $320 an hour.

I very much doubt that the average Fannie Mae board member is going to spend 500 hours a year on this $160,000-a-year job. (The chairman might, but he’s getting $250,000.)

In any case, Fannie Mae is owned by the government now. Is Treasury really incapable of governing Fannie Mae itself? Does it need to pay $1.7 million per year to insert a layer of not-very-accountable governance between itself and management? There’s an entire staff at the Federal Housing Finance Agency which knows intimately exactly what Fannie Mae is up to; they also have the power to insist on real change at the operational level. And I’m sure that precious few of them are pulling down $160,000 a year.

So Fannie’s board does seem to be a throwback to its former status as a public company. Under the terms of the conservatorship, there might need to be a board. But it doesn’t need to be nearly as well-paid as this, especially given that the board isn’t really in charge anyway.

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