It's crazy. That's why the field of money management is today the most highly compensated field in the world times three. There's no close second. There's no close third. And I think the expectations inherent in that sort of compensation are absurdly unrealistic.
I regard the amount of brainpower going into money management as a national scandal.
We have armies of people with advanced degrees in physics and math in various hedge funds and private-equity funds trying to outsmart the market. A lot of you older people in the room can remember when none of these people existed.
Note neither quote is from a socialist pinko -- both are famous hedge fund managers, though from the old school.
Below are the numbers, from the NYTimes article Pay at Investment Banks Eclipses all other Jobs. Note these are average weekly salaries, and include those of secretaries and support staff. Nationally, investment banking (broadly defined, including money management) accounted for just 0.1 percent of all private sector jobs, but it accounts for 1.3 percent of all wages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Related posts here and here.
I'm anticipating reactions like "Well, of course they deserve it, their decisions have disproportionate impact on the economy, allocating massive resources. The market is efficient, after all!" All well and good if you can show that the 173,340 people (2006 BLS) working in investment banking really do produce better decisions than the people who would occupy those jobs in return for lower compensation. If not, there are some rents or inefficiencies hidden here :-)