What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses

Despite crippling losses in 2008, financial employees in New York collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

Comments: 125

  1. simply outrageous!

  2. Buried skeletons, meet hush money.

    Do people that work on Wall Street even possess souls?

  3. The whole subject of these bonuses is absolutely sickening and should be illegal. Those who received these bonuses should be made to refund the amount to the government since it was tax payer money that made the bonuses payable. It is hard to believe that Paulson didn`t know what he was doing when he handed over this money with no strings attached. We tax payers are taking it in the you know where!!!

  4. Give them a great tax cut as Republican suggested. That would boost our economy according to the 'Trickle down theory'. I think we should give a Nobel prize to the guy who invented the theory.

  5. They have to have used taxpayers' money. And I want my money back. No kidding. I think they should be forced to return their bonus. I know, I know they will say they needed to give the bonuses to retain the talent. Excuse me but what talent? It's not talent; it's greed. And in this non existent job market exactly where did the banks think these talented Masters of the Universe would go? Who would hire these clowns?

  6. It is time to impose a 100% tax, retroactive for at least three years, on all bonuses of all employees of all firms receiving federal bailout funds.

    The sociopaths who have pillaged US financial institutions and laid waste to the US ecomomy must not go unpunished. An essential first step is to claw back, through taxation, the funds they have stolen from thier firms and our futures.

  7. Thieves all of them. Times likes these is when one feels ashamed to be an American. These guys deserve Gitmo, keep it open. Bonus FOR WHAT?

  8. The bailout of Wall Street must continue, but any relief to the ordinary Americans must be vigorously opposed. This is the Republican mantra!

  9. Oh, they just deserve it.

  10. Et apres nous...

  11. Wow! This is hard to believe and impossible to read with equanimity. Wall Street should be hanging it's head with shame, instead it plunges forward with mad self enrichment at the expense of the rest of the country, even the rest of the world! It wasn't enough that third world countries starved while these motherlovers took gains on commodities, or that wars were fought over oil while they cashed in on the ramp up of a barrel of oil, now while the world economy bleeds they demand huge bailouts and hand out 2004-style bonuses. Somebody please tell the President! These people aren't the best and brightest, they're a mob of frat boys ganging up to corner the wealth of all nations.

  12. It is disheartining to see these selfish criminals get away with this kind of while collar crime when so many lost every thing they had for their retirement! Please publish the names of these top level people so those who lost everything can have , at the least, someone to blame! These is the kind of acts of greed force other wise desent people to riot in the streets in order to express their anger at the lack of justice!

  13. I don't have a problem with it.

    As long as any company that got TARP money pays the amount they gave out in bonuses back to the US government.

  14. It is time to impose a 100% tax, retroactive for at least three years, on all bonuses of all employees of all firms receiving federal bailout funds.

    The sociopaths who have pillaged US financial institutions and laid waste to the US ecomomy must not go unpunished. An essential first step is to claw back, through taxation, the funds they have stolen from their firms and our futures.

  15. Let them all be indicted by the Chinese for economic crime, tried and punished there


  16. Off with their heads !

    And these are the buffoons who are just going to be handed TARP money with no rhyme or reason ?

    Disgusting.

  17. Are any of you surprised.

    The party continues and the poor and the middle class pays.

  18. They did it the old fashioned way; they earned it ;-)

  19. Take the money back and grind up the offenders into cat food.

  20. Horrific! Abominable! This is our taxpayer money, squandered on bloodsuckers who cashiered my husband three weeks ago. Perhaps there wasn't a run on priceless red Ferraris this year but many others are feeling the pinch when banks spend billions on bonuses from TARP and workers get canned. I'm working our way through our freezer and pantry while you eat at four-star restaurants. But I cook nearly as well as they do, so will make do. tdl

  21. They ought to be hung for what they've done to the World.

  22. Q. Is there is no limit to greed, to piggishniss? A. No.

  23. It seems to me that there is a deficit of integrity, as well as a deficit of funds on Wall Street.

  24. The banks must be nationalized because of this, but, I doubt they will be. Obama talked of "Change", and, yet, his people are just a bunch of insiders who helped create this mess. Where is the outrage? When will this stop? It's as though they just want to re-inflate the markets so that we go through this all over again in ten years, but the Wall Street thieves will be that much richer and the poor will be plotting their violent overthrow.

  25. Criminal. No bailout money for those firms who paid out the bonuses! If you're way of doing business causes losses, why should you expect bonuses?

  26. Why can't congress pass a special tax on bonuses for executives of companies which are losing money? And require them to refund bonuses from previous years based on short term manipulations?

  27. Corporate thieves NATURALLY loot the company safe even while lying to you about the state of the books. We saw this clearly with Angelo Mozilo a while back who lied about CountryWide even as he sold his personal stock. It amazes me only that our government and regulatory agencies are letting them get away with it. Why aren't there perp walks for these CEO? WHERE ARE THE COPS?

  28. This is too incredible for words. Why can't these people be locked up? These people contribute nothing to this country except misery.

  29. Have you ever heard the expression, "Throw da Bums Out."?
    Well, until this country gets rid of the people who caused the current economic calamity, we are going to see them continue with their profligate ways. This time, unfortunately, they are carrying on with OUR MONEY!

    No one on Wall Street deserves any bonus. A bonus is given when the business has a good year and wants to reward the workers. Who on Wall Street had a Good Year in 2008?

    Unless the members of the Congress have no internal fortitude, they will require the recipients of Congressional Largess to regurgitate the money that they gave to their employees in bonuses. In the alternative they can just give back every dime of the money that the government gave them.

  30. We Americans are coming to get that money. There is no way that money is ending up where it is today. Absolutely no way.

  31. This is disgusting. I think companies who gave out hefty bonuses should have the total amount deducted from their bailout money. If those companies die, maybe we didn't need them.
    As an investor, I have always resented the fact that top management skims the profits off the top with no other guidance than their own greed before shareholders get their share.
    Corporations in the US are out of control. Americans must rewrite the laws regarding corporations before they destroy our country.

  32. what I would like to know is how the bonuses were distributed among the types of jobs. many that work for wall st. firms in non-profit centers consider the bonus commitments part of their expected salary without which they would be severely unpaid compared to equivalent positions at non-financial firms. I would not feel bad about those individuals continuing to receive bonuses nor would I look down upon bonuses to profit centers that have maintained profitability.

  33. It's taxpayer money paying these bonuses and paying for the lobbying to get more money from us - the taxpayers. Wouldn't it make more sense if the taxpayers owned the banks? That would be the first step. Then the taxpayers could tell our elected officials to make illegal these abuses. The banks, when finally profitable because of our investment would serve the interest of the taxpayers not Wall Street. It seems pretty simple; Nationalize Now and regulate the greed!!

  34. .... this is capitalism, what did you expect? A bit predatory sadly but these stories have been running for the last several years along with their accompanying pieces glorifying all sorts of material wealth (whether they be expensive baubles, rich getaways or high dollar abodes). It is just a shame that these aristocrats are forced to inhabit the same world as us plebes. Because of such hardship perhaps they have truly earned these multi-million dollar bonuses. One question tho, with the decline in size from 2007 to 2008 does it mean the rabble have become 25% easier to deal with?

  35. This is truly an insular world not easily fathomed by those outside wall street. I mean, really, how many jobs are there where there is such a wide chasm between performance of your company, the industry as a whole, and your compensation. If this is their reward when one screws up, then imagine one's compensation if they actually did their job "right" - however that may be defined.

  36. I can't help but think how many people in this country make less than 20,000 a year. Using the US Census bureau's 2008 population estimate I figured that with 350 billion, each person would receive about 1150$. Please bail me out, I'd be able to pay rent, buy groceries, and catch up a bit on bills. And that would be a welcome bonus for many taxpayers.

  37. This reflects that the term bonus is misleading. In the banking industry, they are considered as salaries: something you are entitled to. The employees do not feel the bonuses are a reflections of the results of the company, but of the hard work they have done - whatever the result may be.

  38. There is a simple word for this: it is 'theft'. If that word is too provocative, as it may be, there are two words tahat can be used in its stead. They are 'grand' and 'larceny'.

    Has anyone tried to compare the total amount paid in executive compensation to the ten largest financial institutions over the past five years against the the total amount of Fed money they have received in the past year.

    Such a calculation is beyond my capacity as an individual, but I suspect the numbers are roughly equal. Without the rape we would have some fairly healthy finaancial institutions -- and a continuing healthy economy.

    How do we solve te problem?

  39. If the bonuses were paid as a result of US taxpayer dollars being infused into these bankrupt corporations, the executives and recipients should be given a choice:

    1) Public Hanging
    2) Blindfold and Firing Squad
    3) Make the check out equal to the amount of your bonus and send it to the US Treasury and return it in 48 hours.

    Take your pick.

  40. Apparently these folks really did build a system that was too big too fail... in their own minds.

    Their behavior continues to seem disconnected from reality; I wonder if these folks aren't experiencing some kind of collective psychosis. It's been known to happen on this scale before.. usually with very bad outcomes. What does the world do when their global economy has been hijacked by what amounts to a cult?

    This is increasingly starting to look like the biggest threat to homeland and global security that we've encountered thus far.

    I'd be interested in understanding how administrations intend to address this risk in terms of long-term structural changes to how the financial sector operates in the future.

    So far, we've demonstrated that bailout dollars tend to get disbursed as bonus checks... any other ideas?

  41. The media has perpetuated this myth that bonuses at banks are in fact, bonuses. In reality, the compensation structure at banks is such that for anyone that earns a significant bonus, this is more akin to their salary. Even the most senior bankers earn no more than $250k in "base" salary. In reality, the going rate for that job is a salary in the low seven figures (hypothetically). Instead of just paying that salary, banks choose to hold most of the compensation, and earn the float, until year end. The year end bonus is really just the salary in arrears. It is somewhat unfair to tell someone, after working a year at some expected rate, that they will not draw 90% of their salary (which would be the case if bonuses were nil). What current bonuses really tell us is that the real salary for an employee is like $1mm and in years past he was getting a $1mm bonus though all of this looked like a $1.75mm bonus on top of a $250k salary.

  42. These people.

    So. The absolute greed of a few thousand results - literally for million - in years of deprivation, poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, penury, unteated illness, joblessness - and on and on.

    And even as we pick our way through the rubble of ours and everyone elses lives, do they feel even the most modest twinge of remorse?

    Oh, hell no.

    What, are you kidding?

    It's grab, grab , gimmee, gimmee. To speak in measured tones of "a broken financial system" and "a bubble" is too imprecise. As far as I'm concerned, these guys are the moral equivalent of murderers and rapists.

  43. 1. First, bailed-out banks should be forbidden from accruing for bonuses from anything other than net profits.
    2. Secondly bailed-out bank employees making more than $100,000 should take a 25-40% pay cut on the portion of their salaries that's above $100,000. We forced Detroit's workers to take pay cuts on a lot less money. This would free up alot of capital. If a bailed-out bank loses talent to a non-bailed out bank because of this, tough luck, that's capitalism.

    Wall Street, pay back the taxpayer first then do whatever you like.

    3. Secretary Geithner should allow private capital to replace the government's investment in a bank free from all capital gains taxes on the initial investment. This places the incentive on prospective buyers to provide a generous initial capital cushion.

  44. Wall Street will continue to conduct business as usual until there is a penalty for such conduct. So far, there hasn't been any...other than the press and politicians making token gestures of outrage.

  45. 18.4 billion huh? Does that not work out to about 10 thousand dollars for every Man, Woman, & Child in the greater NY metropolitan area? How much was your bonus? Crooks.

  46. Given the decline in our life savings portfolio values these bonuses
    are a form of thievery. Given the scale of their incompetence and greed the only bonus they should receive is a free ride to the nearest jail and their bonuses should be returned to the stockholders.

  47. To successfully bailout the economy as a whole the government must bypass banks and financial institutions still managed by the sort of greedy self-serving kleptocrates who recent betrayed shareholders and the country. They did this by inflating bonuses through mis-labeling risking financial paper as no-risk.

    The government must bypass the banks and find alternate means to lend to industry until such time as the banks replace current executives with executives oriented to long term profit, shareholder value -- and who will not sell their country down the drain for personal profit.

  48. The article is skewed and misleading. The word 'bonus' does not automatically mean a multi million dollar payout to investment bankers. Much of that money goes to rank and file employees whose compensation is structured to be heavily weighted toward bonus (or incentive compensation) at year end. Before you post comments of outrage, consider your neighbor who works in the IT department of a financial firm whose total compensation has just decreased 20% or 30% through no fault of his own. Then think about what it means to your neighborhood restaurant who will not be getting his business, not to mention consequences of decreased tax revenue for state, city and federal government.

  49. I had planned over the years to retire at age 65, having purchased my home and invested frugally but wisely. In the past year I have been laid off from my job, drained my 401 [which had been eviscerated by a cumulative 68%] and siphoned off my dwindling savings to help my children. The, too, have been let go from their jobs.

    I will not be able to retire now. My carefully planned exit from the workplace has gone up in smoke. Yet the financial employees on Wall Street still rake in more money in bonuses than I will ever see in three life times.

    I suggest the rich, diffident, aloof elite place their ears to the ground and listen closely. That sound they hear is the rising tumult of anger, frustration and the inabilty to accept any more outrage. The American people rose up in the past to push out an entitled class who ruled from on high. It will happen again, and sooner than later.

  50. French peasants revolted...stormed the Bastille ending the reign of the arrogant, self serving aristocracy. In 2009 Wall Street Bunko artists have earned the very same fate.

    Main street America is watching....and waiting.

  51. Are these guys just begging for mobs with torches and pitchforks?

  52. Money is fungible. It would be hard to detect whether public funds or any other specified funds were used to pay for bonuses, and not the key question. The ultimate issues are whether the firms could afford the bonuses on the basis of their earned financial strength and whether they were deserved. At the margin, when a private company needs a public sector bail-out, one may - and should - question whether either of these criteria were satisfied.

  53. Send them all to Afghanistan!

  54. This is ridiculous. I can't believe this happening. I can't see why these firms that take money from the government can justify this for their own failures. It wreaks of hypocrisy and is just plain wrong.

    And for the arguement that it must be done to retain quality talent, I say we call their bluff. With the employment market the way it is, I am sure there is enough people willing to fill the ranks. Let their mantra of 'market forces' play out.

  55. I always wondered where all that red ink would show up on the credit side. Now I know...

  56. I've got the tar, if you've got the feathers. Who's with me?

  57. It should be obvious by now that overpaying employees with outragous bonuses is used by companyies to discourage those employees from acting in good faith with their clients. They did not do much for their companies in the long run either. The public needs a list of the companies that pay the big bonuses so that they know whom to avoid.

  58. Very misleading. Those bonuses were 2007 bonuses paid out in the first quarter of 2008. This is very poor reporting to imply that these are for 2008.

  59. Why do they get bonuses for doing their job? They get hefty salaries, is that not enough. And when they get bonuses for doing their job BADLY, that is outrageous. However you analyze it, rest assured we ended up paying those bonuses--they have good accountants who know how to fix the books. Obama should demand all that money back; it belongs to us.

  60. Why should bankers lend money to anyone, when they can embezzle bailout money, fair and square, for themselves?

  61. -Lucian A. Bebchuk, a professor at Harvard Law School and expert on executive compensation, called the 2008 bonus figure “disconcerting.” Bonuses, he said, are meant to reward good performance and retain employees. But Wall Street disbursed billions despite staggering losses and a shrinking job market.-

    Oh the embarrasment. Where are the true Americans?

  62. "Thomas P. DiNapoli said it was unclear if banks had used taxpayer money for the bonuses." Retard - money is fungible. Of course taxpayer was used for the bonuses.

    Bottom line: We are taking taxpayer money to pay bankers billions of dollars in bonuses, even though they have proven to be incompetent and even though they have already received billions of dollars of undeserved bonuses in years past.

    These bankers are destroying our country by their incompetence and greed. Nationalize the banks and let's run the banks in a conservative manner. I for one am willing to do with less "innovation."

  63. Well, this pretty much sums up what is wrong! Pathetic.

  64. Blame Congress for all of it. Unfortunately, the situation has been evolving over a 50 year period with acceleration in the past eight years.

    The 92%tax bracket of the 1950's plus estate taxes were very good at curbing abuse .... but we're Americans and history puts us to sleep.

    Obviously, there was no need for a bailout just as there is no need for a "stimulus?" package.

    And of course, the tiny tax-surcharge on the income taxes of people earning over 250K in NYS (which is basically a minus-tax state-- we don't have flat taxes in the US -- we have a give-back of 7.5% to people earning more than 90K who no longer pay social security tax on their "earned" or in this cae"given" monies) was allowed to expire by those financail wizards who never saw a regressive tax they didn't like -- Bloomberg and Patterson.

    Of course,most people have no idea as to what the tax brackets are, and they don't want to believe that government is as corrupt as it is. Many people still believe the "bailout" which should be called the "give away of Fall, 2008," there have been and will be others, was needed.

  65. To sum it up... It is just called greed and corruption.

  66. This is indeed outrageous. Names of those who gave and received these bonuses should be published and we should turn them into social pariahs. We did it with smokers; we can do it with these guys. Such behavior is morally repugnant, not merely disconcerting.

  67. This country has been sick for a long time, don't expect it to get well overnight. We have been engendering and nurturing a Bourgeoisie for fifty years; to change this will take something similar to a guillotine. Perhaps the more American solution would be a Civil War. The Blue against the Red.

  68. Unbelievable!! There better be hell to pay for this outrage!!

    Yes, politicians, we are talking to you!!!

  69. The bankers will keep on stealing until we see their blood run on the streets of New York.

  70. WHO is going to step up to the plate and really investigate/prosecute this? We are getting royally fleeced while the thieves keep racking-it-up - BARACK - please see that this is STOPPED!!!

  71. The American people have just about reached their limit with these Wall Street Winers. If 50% of the worker's on Wall Street were fired, what difference would it make to the US economy? No more bonuses for any of them, ever.
    Hang the bankers! Begin with Bernie Madoff, he's wining about not being able to go out to eat! He should be in prison.
    When will this nightmare end? Stigmatize them!

  72. Executive pay is always from the pockets of the average Joe. I'd bet my last dollar some of our tax dollars are now in the bank accounts of these greedy top guys sanctified by their pals on their boards of directors.

  73. Name them, shame them, picket their homes and businesses, sue them for breach of fiduciary duty, initiate procedures to claw back their bonuses and salaries where possible.

    Write/call/e-mail yr state and federal representatives and senator demanding SEC and Dept of Justice investigations and that the firms giving out bonuses receive no federal funds.

    If we just sit around bitching and moaning, these despicable con artists will continue to steal our money while laughing in our faces daring us to do something about it.

    And the easiest way to stop them is to adopt an Eisenhower tax schedule.

    All income from whatever source included; if the money passed by a bank account controlled by the taxpayer, it counts.

    Deductions only for health and educational expenses, first home interest and investments in green technology.

    Tax rates:

    0-$30 000/yr 0%
    30 000-40 000 5% ($40 000/yr=US median family income)
    40 000-500 000 17%
    all income over $500 000/yr taxed at 90%

    Capital gains treated separately according to same schedule.

    Explain to me why any person making less than $500 000/yr would be against this.

    W.P.

  74. America, wake up to the fact that our system is purposefully designed to funnel cheap money to NY banks to play with. The Federal Reserve is what makes this possible. When these banks take stupid risks with massive leverage, and bring the global economy to its knees, back they come to the US taxpayer for a bailout so they can keep paying themselves outrageous sums. The system is immoral and anti-American. Direct your outrage towards ending the Federal Reserve system because that is what makes the endless supply of artificially cheap money possible. We must return to sound money backed by gold as the founders of this country intended.

  75. In 2008, I worked 320 days in construction, suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis. Every day I produced value, or I would have no job. I get no bennies, paid leave, perks, sick time, or snow days. Not even free coffee. There is no safety net, and no chance to stop working.

    (Oh, I do have a college degree.)

    My bonus? $50 cash and a thank you. Strangely, I'm grateful for my humble reality; for me the fall cannot be that far . .

  76. No one is indispensable. The events of the last few years demonstrate that salaries and bonuses were just greed and fraud. The inertia of entitlement is as reprehensible on Wall Street as it is amongst welfare recipients. Drop the bonus, cut the salary. There are a lot of unemployed investment specialist out there who will work for less and respect the people whose money and lives they are playing with.

  77. If everyone responsible for the current financial climate deserves bonuses, what would they have to do *not* to deserve bonuses? Maybe they feel they deserve a little something extra for not driving the world into an depression but only a recession.

  78. The idea that the money being paid in bonuses may not be from the bailout is a complete fiction. The banks showed monstrous losses on a yearly basis and in most companies this would mean "NO BONUS". Money is fungible and the idea that bonuses are sacrosanct is ridiculous. How many people this year won't get a bonus?

  79. Reading about executive compensation for the past few months has been disheartening to say the least. I had previously been of the mind that perhaps those at the top had learned a lesson, or at the very least were reeling from a strong slap on the wrist. Apparently not. How long is this going to continue? This latest round of hurried checks handed out by Thain and other Wall Street executives is reminiscent of Madoff's last ditch attempt disburse his valuable trinkets.

  80. I am an engineer working at a chip-design company. While I had nothing to do with all the financial innovations that caused this semi-depression, our salaries are frozen. A lot of engineers were laid off this week by various firms.

    For companies that were close to declaring bankruptcy, this is a completely unfair result. After Mr Thain's admissions from this week, I feel that there is no limit to human greed. If you were wondering where all those $40 late fees and the $350 billion TARP funds went, look no further. You are sponsoring someone's antique toilets, another banker's home in the Hamptons.

    Honestly we don't need a Wall Street. Let's please nationalize all banks. I can deal with slower service. Million dollar bonuses in the year of the biggest financial crisis in 80 years (could be more very soon) deserves imprisonment, not a bonus.

  81. I can not begin to describe how angry this makes me. These people are thieves pure and simple.

    Can anyone explain to me why a 26yr old analysts with a base salary of $150k - already 3 times the average wage in the US - working in an institutions losing billions a year deserves another $400k from the taxpayers?

    Don't give me the lie that the funds were not taxpayers funds. If there was no TARP there would have been no bonuses.

    Bonus' are discretionary - that is why people get sacked by firms before bonuses are announced. How can bankers justify taking billions in government funds and then handing these funds out to themselves when bonuses are DISCRETIONARY.

    It was these same idiots who got their banks in trouble in the first place - so don't give me arguments about "talent would walk" - well they should. Go. Git. Be gone. If you are so brilliant, find another job.

    It's simple - TARP must be amended so that if you take TARP you do not pay bonuses. No "retention payments". No golden handshakes. Nothing. Nada. You can keep your already over inflated salaries and you should thank your lucky stars that we let you keep these - you really should be on public officials wages (for that's what you are).

    Bonuses recently paid out should be repaid to the institutions. Why? TARP was there to encourage lending and stabilize the financial system. Paying your over-inflated bonus' was outside of the scope of the law and illegal. Now we know bankers are dishonorable people, so they have no shame and will not voluntarily hand back these illegal bonuses so the government must take it back.

    Don't let them get away with it. WE WANT BLOOD!

  82. I'd like to see this story posted next to one about the murder-suicide of a family in California due to dire economical straits.

  83. I don't get it. Where'd the money come from?

  84. Disgusting to think that a few individuals could probably bail out this whole mess, yet they continue to leech off people like you and me. Enraging.

  85. Gee, surprise surprise. Didn't we all tell them this would happen. IS NO ONE IN WASHINGTON LISTENING?

  86. So, 46% of the Wall Street Bankers feel that their bonuses were inadequate and that they deserve more. Maybe we should pump some more tax-payer money into the banking system; we wouldn't want the Masters of the Universe to feel slighted. After all, they did a magnificent job of wrecking the global economy, something "ordinary" folks could never do (the latter don't get any bonuses anyway, no matter how well they perform). This unique talent absolutely needs to be retained on Wall Street.
    By the way, if the American Masters of the Universe retire to their villas in Greenwich with their ill-gotten gains, I would be happy to ship a few from the UBS in Switzerland. They are not happy with their tax-payer financed bonuses either, and might be willing to sell their services.

  87. In light of the Thain Merrill Lynch affair, one wants a full reckoning of how the bailout money, allocated under the Bush Administration, has been spent. Because if you see one cockroach, there are more behind the walls.

    We were wrong to trust Paulson, Bernanke, and President Bush without demanding strict oversight of the bailout funds. "Trust but verify" is good advice anytime, under any administration.

    The funds that have been wrongly allocated should be recovered.

    Andrew Cuomo has his work cut out. But it's important work and the public must see it done.

  88. How About a new show-" Bernie Madoff the Demon

    Financier of Wall Strret?"

  89. What is this? Now no one is supposed to get bonuses because they work on Wall Street? OK. We will tell ALL employers that there are no more bonuses.

    That will go over big.

  90. No comments. If these people get an incentive after what has happened why should the american taxpayers rescue them ? If you get an incentive after causing such harm to millions of americans I believe the financial system needs more than a bailout.

  91. "Some bankers took home millions last year even as their employers lost billions".

    The solution is painfully simple...give it back. Tax the 2008 bonuses of employees whose employers (banks)which received TARP funds at 99.5% of their bonuses.

    “The issue of transparency is a significant one, and there needs to be an accounting about whether there was any taxpayer money used to pay bonuses or to pay for corporate jets or dividends or anything else,”

    Darn straight.

  92. If we let Wall Street pay bonuses in bad years with our tax payer money, we enforce the status quo and too many of our best people will end up in finance. This is a problem.

    President Barack Obama famously after law school did not take a "Wall Street" job as a banker or lawyer, and worked in community service in Chicago.

    Our country's moral fiber is stronger because of his decision, but we certainly can't expect this outcome, if we let the finance sector pay 3 to 5 times as much as a normal job!

    We don't gain anything by having our best people in finance. We've lived that experience in the last 20 years, and we are maybe worse off because of it.

    Wall Street I'm sure has many good people, but it would be a shame if the next Barack Obama uses his talent to peddle bonds.

  93. classic....a perfect synopsis of exactly what is wrong...these thieves have been robbing the till for decades, producing nothing, trading paper for paper for paper while skimming off the top at every turn from gullible fools.....and now we continue to let them do it, thereby getting what we deserve: empty pockets, cannibalized retirement accounts, dissapearing jobs and homes worth less than we owe on them (to the bankers, of course)...bernie madoff is only a symbol for the larger financial scheme....its a ponzi world on wall street and the joke is on the american public, who not only takes the fall, but will pay for it while being laughed at by thugs counting their money on a corporate (welfare) jet......

  94. There are two realities. Main Street, reeling under the aftermath of the financial crisis, thinks that those who caused it by their incompetence or malfeasance deserve no bonuses. Wall Street feels that the bonuses are too low for its superb performance. They deserve better.

    I think Congress should enact a special 200% tax on the bonuses received by employees of financial institutions who received tax-payer bailouts.

  95. And what is the Chinese Government doing to those government executives who set aside wealth for themselved from the public trust, pithering large amounts into gambling in Macau? The Chinese have been bailing us out, the Bush Administration has had CHINA written across the chest of their NASCAR jackets, what are the outcomes for those persons, those leaders, in mainland China who abuse the common good with greed and bad behaviors?

  96. At least the James Gang robbed the rich train barons who took land from small, rural farmers after the War. These persons today are robbing from the middle class and poor in this country, they are taking from their very country, all in the spirit of their own, made up, personal entitlement.

  97. The banks are using our tax money to foreclose on even more homeowners! We need to REPEAL THE BANK BAILOUT before they steal the other half of the $700 billion. Our government should use our hard earned dollars to help homeowners, not the dishonest bankers who are already rich off our labors and whose greed got us into this mess. The banks claim they don’t keep records of money goes where. Baloney. They know exactly where it went, and we can see they’re using it to hurt the very homeowners who we should be helping.

    Forget trying to get accountability for future bailouts, we need to refuse any more of the $700 billion until every last dime is accounted for. The US government bought up mortgages during the Depression in the 1930s, we can do it again now.

    Repeal the bank bailout bill and institute HOME/HOLC.

  98. If I paid part of the bonus with my taxes, then I want my money back. Why do these folks need incentives paid by poor people like me?

    Ted Michael Morgan

  99. This is an outrage! Any firm that receives a dime in bailout money MUST dial back all their bonuses and dividends to $0. If they want to retain their best employees, find another way, DO NOT GIVE AWAY MY TAX MONEY.

    That this wasn't in the law, is also an outrage. What the h are they doing in Washington?

  100. The only question I have is why it has taken the world so long to notice these wildly disproportionate bonuses in executive suites. All of these bonus plans are tied to stock performance and during the go go years of a Bull market these guys puff their cigars and act as if they had something to do with their dumb luck. But when the market tanks .... well, they STILL put their hands out. And get them filled. Folks, let me introduce you to the cause of the decline of American capitalism in the last quarter of the 20th century. These clowns slashed workforces, outsourced all manufacturing overseas and put the mighty stock price above all other considerations. We used to have a three-legged stool in business: workers, managers and shareholders. Well, the managers got in bed with the stock market and lost sight of their fiduciary duties to their companies and to our country. We don't make anything anymore, it's all been shipped overseas to squeeze another penny profit to please "The Street." Well if "The Street" is dead we should all rejoice and hope corporate boards and executives will get back to corporate leadership that looks beyond how to prop up their stock options next quarter.

  101. A mother shoplifts some items from the supermarket shelf for her starving children.

    She gets jail for her attempt to feed her children.

    The entitled on Wall Street loot endless billions of dollars of our wealth.

    They get billions more for their enriching themselves at our expense.

    Meanwhile Washington which is supposed to be protecting our interests remains totally beholden to these thieves that have looted our wealth and destroyed our economy.

  102. As much as I would like to chime in with the moral outrage --- living in upstate NY with a school age child, I cry for every tax dollar lost. Unfortunately, Wall Street and bonus season forms the single biggest item of New York State tax revenue. And it's almost gone.

  103. There is no personal responsibility from Wall St. workers. Find one person that handed their bonus back at Goldman Sachs where their "top" execs set such a good example and took no bonuses. That's a news story.

  104. Look at this however you want: the tax payers, here and in Switzerland, are taking on the bill for this feast. Given all the layoffs the bonus per employee probaly didn't even shrink much...

  105. The duplicity here is amazing. Private industry loves to talk about pay-for-performance. If you do well, you get paid well. Then when things go sour, instead of getting fired as normal people do, we now need retention bonuses.

    I don't dispute that some deserve bonuses, but the bonuses should be delayed by several years to allow a meaningful evaluation of whether the person really performed well or simply cooked-the-books to look good.

    Moreover, the whole bonuses issue seems to neglect that the corporate executives work for the shareholder. Instead the executives seem to view the company they work for as a fiefdom to be milked dry.

  106. This is obscene and so maddening. Noone on wall street deserves ONE penny of bonus after destroying the american economy for years to come; and the idea that they may be using our aid money is even more incredible. Drastic actions are needed to change this culture of greed and ultimate egotistical focus.

  107. Wall Street and corporation CEOs and upper management act like they have no conscience or shame. They act as if they have no idea about the actual distress most regular people are experiencing, and the absurdity and ethical issues related to their receiving the HUGE compensations and bonuses when they have essentially driven the economy into the toilet.

  108. We been screwed. Redux.

  109. The CHANGE we need is on DISTRIBUTION OF INCOME. Executives are OVER COMPENSATED. If we are going to elect Presidents that attended Harvard, then let us listen to what the professors their have to say and ACT NOW!!! Lucian A. Bebchuk, a professor at Harvard Law School and expert on executive compensation, Bonuses, he said, are meant to reward good performance and retain employees. But Wall Street disbursed billions despite staggering losses and a shrinking job market.

    Echoing Mr. DiNapoli, Professor Bebchuk said he was concerned that banks might be using taxpayer money to subsidize bonuses or dividends to stockholders. “What the government has been trying to do is shore up capital, and any diversion of capital out of banks, whether in the form of dividends or large payments to employees, really undermines what we are trying to do,” he said.

    Jesse M. Brill, a lawyer and expert on executive compensation, said government bailout programs should be made more transparent.

    We need TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY. We want to know line for line where and to whom the money is going.

    STOP the corruption!

    Kudos to Cuomo!

  110. Bonuses are required to retain top talent? If you count the ability to obtain undeserved compensation as a talent, then surely there is no dearth of it on Wall Street. And plus, I didn't realize how difficult it is to prevent high salaried employees from quitting their jobs during a recession. Why don't these firms cough up some honesty, and just admit that they're rewarding incompetence.

  111. We need to revise our criminal code to allow us to execute these sociopaths who are ruining the economy with their greed. It seems to work for the Chinese; I doubt there will be any more tainted baby formula sold any time soon in China.

  112. After a while you can't even think of words to say anything.

  113. The financial businesses should be held accountable for their actions just like any other business. Any company I worked for never rewarded poor performance or not achieving goals. CEOs giving out bonuses after failing the trust of their clients and asking/receiving bailout money from taxpayers should be brought up on criminal charges. At best their actions are unethical and demonstrate the greed that fueled if not caused the financial crisis we are experiencing. The bonus money received by anyone whose firm lost large amounts of money should be returned to offset the losses and payback the bailout money. Anyone CEO failing to implement this policy should be terminated along with any employee refusing to return the money. This may seem harsh to some but the future success of the financial industry and willingness of clients to continue to invest will depend on client's confidence and trust in the firms. Only accountability for those responsible will start to repair the damage.

  114. Well of course those bonuses were well earned. The people at the top know how important economic downturns are for the health of the overall economy. They deserve to be compensated for engineering the current crisis. If these modest dips in the cycle are not calculated to happen, then we are left to chance when they will occur. Too bad the gurus who caused this thing to happen, and knew way in advance of its coming didn't tell anyone else.

  115. Any firm that received "bailout" money should require executives to repay all "bonuses" to the US Treasury within 60 days. Failing to do so will they should be prosecuted on a charge of theft by taking.

  116. Maybe some of the bonus money is taxpayer money, but all of it is shareholder money. A case might be made that these earnings should be paid when the firms are making big money. No case can be made for the bonuses of any size when shareholders are losing big. If you lose a few billion dollars of shareholder money and value, maybe you should be let go rather than earning a bonus.

    The pension and fund managers have to begin to act in the interests of the people (all taxpayers) whose money they manage. This should be an aim of any new legislation. Can they spell "fiduciary"? (Can I?)

  117. Bank execs, their HR, Legal and PR departments, as well as their Boards of Directors should be put in stocks (the wooden kind used centuries ago) and mocked by passing public. And then forced to repay their bonuses. Or at least have them re-issued in stocks (the financial kind) at the value the shares had months ago.

  118. What are people going to do if they can't make easy money like Wall Street bonuses? I mean how are they supposed to get money to buy seats in government?

    Well, a new - and apparently effective - strategy is to simply change laws from within to stay on in power, as did Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (Bloomberg certainly bought his position from money made on Wall Street and Quinn is in lots of wealthy people's pockets). Even though I like some of the work Bloomberg's done, I cannot accept that he's tried to strong arm his way to more power - despite a term limit law supported by a majority of voters.

  119. “Freedom and Justice for All”

    what does that mean exactly?

    In the current system in the US it appears a

    euphemism for freedom from the responsibility

    to pick up a fair share of the tab for the

    cost of your license to steal.

    If there is anyone in the House or Senate

    that still has male anatomy the AMT will apply

    at 95% all bonuses at firms receiving federal

    bailout monies. AMT will also apply at

    firms under their retainer to lobby

    and influence for them, and to grants they make to

    the Business Schools that packaged the license

    to steal the MBA. The rate should increase to

    99.675% on bonuses over the

    average yearly wage in the United States.

    The people who trashed the economy should

    pay to repair it.

    Today we have is another example of

    Reaganomics. Not unlike turning airport security

    over to “private industry” who hired the

    untrained retired people to walked the hijackers

    on the September 11 commercial air bombs.

  120. This is an absolute disgrace what these unethical bloodsuckers did to this country and the world. There should be a hefty tax on bonuses always, especially those over one million dollars. If the government does not intervene and stop this lunacy, it will repeat only worse.

  121. More proof of the denial of reality and outright greed, not only among stockbrokers, but US management of publically traded companies in general. I think they should not give out bonuses any more, so these companies do not retain this so-called top talent. What has top-talent gotten us, the public, a financial collaspe. I think the amateur could do just as well.

  122. This business model has failed. The logic for these bonuses is the financial engineers will seek employment elsewhere if they do not recieve this compensation. This too is a failing model. Next is health care, then education. US wages will revert to the global median as we got out of the manufacturing business over the last three decades.

  123. Pigs!

  124. I'm sure that this is an oversimplification, but nevertheless I am left with the impression that Bush and his buddies have bled the country dry and enriched themselves with our money. And they continue to do it and will continue to do it to the last drop.

    It reminds me of Reagan signing the deregulation bill in 1982 and announcing, "We hit the jackpot!" By "we, he clearly did not mean us.

    But even he couldn't have imagined the extent to which Bush and his boys perfected the process of fleecing the country while the media, well paid, looked on with muted and adoring faces.

  125. Certainly the government has no qualms with compensation payouts, afterall, from those same "outrageous bonuses" they receive a windfall of taxes. The average citizen is oblivious to this, only when you are directly taxed do you howl in protest!