Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wall Street's Bonus Baby Steps

After U.S taxpayers sacrificed billions of dollars to bail out Wall Street, the rescued financial institutions promised to cut executive bonuses and extravagant business expenses. However, data shows that many of the same companies that we bailed out earlier in the year, are planning to give out hefty bonuses in the first few weeks of the New Year. As this story on CNN explains, many of the major banks in this country are showing no signs of reducing their executive bonuses.

Under pressure to prevent another meltdown, Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) have been cutting back on cash bonuses and insisting on so-called clawbacks -- arrangements that allow companies to reclaim past bonuses when there is employee misconduct.

Yet for all their supposed reform-mindedness, the banks show no sign of pulling the emergency brake on the great compensation escalator.

A year after taxpayers saved the finance industry from collapse, the big banks will hand out billions of dollars in bonuses in the coming weeks -- at a time where unemployment tops 10% and many people are still losing their homes to foreclosures. To say this rankles in some quarters is an understatement.

"There is a need to show restraint considering the unusual circumstances of the past year or so," said Tim Smith, a senior vice president at socially responsible investment firm Walden Asset Management in Boston. "That's what you're not seeing right now."

Continue reading at CNN…

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