Much has been made of how good Mervyn King has been to reject a £100,000 payrise that would have taken him from his current £290,000 to £390,000. The payrise had been recommended by a consultancy Towers Perin, who are tasked with the recommending pay for the BoE. Yes, he was right to reject the pay award, especially as the government had voluntarily frozen their own pay and the Prime Minister gets paid £180,000, £110,000 less than Mervyn.
Yet, as the FT pointed out, King still earns more than his counterparts at the Federal Reserve Bank of the USA and the European Central Bank. Ben Bernanke earns $191,300 (£95,722) and Jean-Claude Trichet earns €345,742 (£273,903). Both Bernanke and Trichet have far more responsibility than Mervyn King, dealing with far bigger, more complex economies.
Americans in particular certainly don't pay their civil servants much at all. In Britain, though, we pay them extravagantly more than the politicians - and even when civil servants cock up they tend to get their pay rises and then get a place in the Lords. Meanwhile the politicians get relatively poor pay, get put through the mill taking all sorts of abuse (some deserved, but for the majority honest politicians, undeserved) and then get ruthlessly culled by the electorate if the political wind changes. Something is askew here. Still, even civil servants don't get paid as extravagantly as political journalists, and even they don't get paid as extravagantly as failed chief executives like Adam Applegarth, formerly chief executive of Northern Rock, who got a £760,000 pay off plus a £346,000 pension top-up.