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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange early in the trading session in New York, January 3, 2011.  REUTERS/Mike Segar
Six years after Wall Street crashed the American economy, Wall Street bonuses are up. Again. But the damage the financial industry did to our economy isn't the only piece of context that makes this news appalling:
On Wall Street, profits are down and the number of workers is shrinking.

But bonuses continue to grow larger.

Cash bonuses paid to Wall Street employees in New York City rose 15 percent on average last year, to $164,530, according to estimates released on Wednesday by Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state comptroller. That was the biggest average bonus since 2007, the year before the financial crisis struck.

Over all, workers in the financial industry in the city made an estimated $26.7 billion in bonuses last year, a number that, again, was the highest level since the crisis.

Funny, isn't it, how when low-wage workers at highly profitable companies ask for a raise above poverty wages, we hear so much about how their employers just can't afford it and giving them a raise would kill jobs, but when Wall Street profits are down—f'ing Wall Street, a chief driver of America's low-wage corporate culture—its executives still see their bonuses rise?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:24 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Anyone Know How to Report How Much Bonus Money (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was made by, say, nursing home aides or fast food workers last year?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 09:26:16 AM PDT

  •  I think the word that describes this is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bleeding blue

    greed. During the 19th century, the American government attempted to instill the idea of greed in American Indians. Politicians and educators touted the need for greed as the essence of being American and the cultural ideal that made this country great.

  •  This is why our 401ks are a scam! (0+ / 0-)
  •  This is a manifestation of manipulation of the (0+ / 0-)

    market and playing on the margins.
    One thing to note; insurance lawyers call for tort reform and profess contempt for personal injury attorneys, but they both get rich off each other and the more the settlements are for, the higher the pay-for the attorney wanting tort reform.
    The next thing to remember is, your broker makes a commission whether the stock goes up or down.

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:27:26 AM PDT

  •  But the good news is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is money that will be spent. Just not on stuff at the 7-11.

    You best believe it does

    by HangsLeft on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 05:35:37 PM PDT

  •  Note (16+ / 0-)

    Wall Street’s 2013 Bonuses Were More Than All Workers Earned Making the Federal Minimum

    The $26.7 billion Wall Streeters pocketed in bonuses would cover the cost of more than doubling the paychecks for all of the 1,085,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
    Bill Moyers

    Be sure you put your feet in the right place; then stand firm. ~ Abraham Lincoln

    by noweasels on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 05:37:01 PM PDT

    •  that's the price you pay for jahb craters... (0+ / 0-)

      If you didn't care what happened to me, and I didn't care for you, we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain, occasionally glancing up through the rain, wondering which of the buggers to blame, and watching for pigs on the wing. R. Waters

      by No Exit on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 06:15:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Stock Market is FINE. It's only the economy (3+ / 0-)

    That sucks.

    ". . .as singularly embarrassing a public address as any allegedly sentient primate ever has delivered." - Charles P. Pierce

    by Rikon Snow on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 05:38:11 PM PDT

  •  Thaaaaaaaat's Capitalism! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    Legal means "good".
    [41984 | Feb 4, 2005]

    by xxdr zombiexx on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 05:40:22 PM PDT

  •  "the number of workers is shrinking" (5+ / 0-)

    That's called eating your own. Once everything else has been plundered, the interecine plutocrat wars follow.

  •  Amazing how much money vapid, arrogant, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    basically economically pointless people can suck up.

    Vampire squid indeed.

  •  Gah! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glitterscale, niemann

    Wall Streeter:  "I got a 15% increase in my bonus this year!  It's PATHETIC!"

    Meanwhile, mainstreeter:

    "Uh, a 2% raise?  How generous sir!  Thank you!  Might I have another next year?  Maybe?  Perhaps?  If you're willing?"

    Meanwhile, the same Wall Street assholes that got a 15% increase in their bonus pay lobbyists and propagandists to say the 2% the Main Street guy got was "way too much."

    Fuck these out-of-touch assholes.  Occupy should have pulled out the guillotines and burned Wall Street to the ground.

    "There was no such thing as a "wealthy" hunter-gatherer. It is the creation of human society that has allowed the wealthy to become wealthy. As such, they have an obligation to pay a bit more to sustain that society than the not-so-wealthy." - Me

    by Darth Stateworker on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 05:48:20 PM PDT

  •  Of course there's nothing left (0+ / 0-)

    To pay employees. The managers have eaten it all. Some of them without managing very much or very well, at that.

  •  Attracting Top Talent Requires Giving Top Salaries (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, geez53, niemann

    so why does Wall Street attract only predatory psychopaths and sociopaths who make money by stealing it.

    •  Because if you hire too many... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      geez53, llywrch, niemann

      ...non-sociopaths, a handful might just grasp just enough of the levers of power and attempt to re-define "success" and "merit" consistent with non-sociopathic norms.

      Or worse: take seriously the notion of ethical practices!

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 06:18:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Market would tank at the opening bell. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        niemann, Egalitare
        Or worse: take seriously the notion of ethical practices!
        Well...ya know..... "ethical practices is just too broad and subjective a concept to put too fine a point on it. can't really be defined, really." "It's legal (we know, we wrote the law and paid good money to have congress pass it)".

        21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

        by geez53 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 06:39:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That IS their definition of talent... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      niemann, Egalitare
      ...Wall Street attract only predatory psychopaths and sociopaths who make money by stealing it.
      I couldn't tell one client to buy Xyz in one call then tell the next client to sell Xyz just to churn fees. Then hedge Xyz in the next call, just in case the churning causes a problem with my own company's position. Ratings analysts who gave AAA ratings to the toxic CDOs because IBG/YBG (I'll Be Gone/You'll Be Gone) after we get our bonuses.

      I just don't have that kind of talent.

      21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

      by geez53 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 06:27:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "We have to pay that to attract the best ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... and brightest!"

      "But, sir!  Sir!  Didn't those 'best and brightest' run your companies into the ground, requiring bailouts from the federal government to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars?"

      "We have to pay that to attract the best and brightest!"

  •  What are Democrats going to do about it? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch, geez53

    Democrats have the presidency and the senate.  

    What are they doing about it?

    The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

    by Beelzebud on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 06:19:34 PM PDT

  •  I have a question- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    an actual question, and doubt it is the sort of thing that one finds out on the interwebs unless one knows precisely where to look. Here it is....


    Okay. Is it possible that Wall Street businesses are trying to keep their profits under a certain threshold (for whatever reason, but, say, maybe "taxes" or more transparency to shareholders or whatnot) and they use these massive bonuses to keep them under some magic limit of accountability?

    Wouldn't that also explain why they do it, even in the face of staggering corruption and incompetency?

    Any accountants, lawyers, reformed Wallstreeters out there? Is this just some bizarre speculation on my part?

    I am perfectly content if it is just bizarre speculation. I would just like a better (ie "more sensible") reason for this practice.

    Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

    by JrCrone on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 06:30:49 PM PDT

    •  Not qualified, but why should that stop me? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm sure there is a calculus, with tax consequences, when they figure the total they'll give in bonuses. But it looks like more of an ego-stroking rewards program for the ppl on the lower floors (in advance of using them as liability whipping-boys if things turn sour).

      A quote from a documentary on the Quants comes to mind. A hedge fund manager about his traders: "It's amazing what these young MIT type brains can do with $1 million dollars when you tell them they get to keep a percentage." Wish i could remember the title, but it was a look back at what happened in the melt-down.

      21st Century America: The distracted, superficial perception of a virtual reality. Gettov Milawn

      by geez53 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 06:59:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wall Street killed America's Main Street (0+ / 0-)

    The decline of our nation directly follows Wall Street's rise. The DOW first topped 1000 in 1973. Junk bond king Michael Millken kicked off Fraud Street's financial rise in the 80's and was convicted of insider trading, fined and spent time in prison. Yes there was a time in America when the DoJ and the FEC actually pursued and convicted inside traders. Today, years after our economy was gutted by Wall Street, these  bonus baby fraudsters eat steak, drink campaign while the masses suffer from trillions in bailouts. We desperately need a new sheriff in town. Many of our elected officials have not done their duty.

    If we lie to the government, it's a felony...but if they lie to us it's politics.

    by rmb on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 07:43:01 PM PDT

  •  Shareholder's Stakes (0+ / 0-)

    This is why shareholders need to have a larger say/more oversight in a companies operations.  Let the shareholders decide if the bonuses ought to be approved or disapproved, and require a supermajority.  

    This is of course a "job killer" and will hurt our societies most stellar performers.

    But man, this does just make me want to burn it all down.  

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