Oct 18

10% of $700 billion bailout to cover Wall Street banker pay and bonuses

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

One tenth of the $700 billion bailout to be footed by U.S. taxpayers is projected to go to the pay and bonuses of Wall Street bankers. The same captains of finance who sent the world into a financial meltdown are now going to be rewarded handsomely.

The Guardian has found that the Top Wall Street bankers are to receive $70 billion in pay deals.

Financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks are to receive pay deals worth more than $70bn (£40.4bn), a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in bonuses, for their work so far this year – despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash…

Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup will pick up the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US government that has already prompted widespread criticism. The government cash has been poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay will be curbed.

While many Americans’ watch their retirement investments vanish in a puff of smoke, Wall Street bankers are patting each other on the back.

For a mere $64.2 million investment in the form of campaign contributions since 2001, Wall Street will be able to loot $700 billion. That is an amazing, ungodly Return On Investment. No wonder, McClatchy Newspapers reported “both political parties have become beholden to Wall Street.”

Compare American greed aided and abetted by the Bush administration and Congress to that of some German banks. For example, the Financial Times reported the managers of Deutsche Bank will waive their bonuses.

Deutsche Bank’s leading investment bankers are to join Josef Ackermann, chief executive, and other senior managers in waiving millions of euros in bonus payments this year.

The decision may increase public pressure on other bankers to follow suit amid growing condemnation of excesses in the industry during the period that led up to the global financial crisis.

Not so in America. According to The Guardian story:

The sums that continue to be spent by Wall Street firms on payroll, payoffs and – most controversially – bonuses appear to bear no relation to the heavy losses incurred by investors in the banks. Shares in Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have declined by more than 45% since the start of the year; Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley have fallen by more than 60%. JP MorganChase fell 6.4% and Lehman Brothers has collapsed.

The pay and bonuses are not grounded in the utter cesspit reality these bankers have created.

At one point last week Morgan Stanley’s $10.7bn pay pot for the year to date was greater than the entire stock market value of the business. In effect, staff, on receiving their remuneration, could club together and buy the bank.

The bankers at Morgan Stanley are being paid more than their entire corporation is worth!

In the first nine months of the year Citigroup, which employs thousands of staff in the UK, accrued $25.9bn for salaries and bonuses, an increase on the previous year of 4%. Earlier this week the bank accepted a $25bn investment by the US government as part of its bail-out plan.

At Goldman Sachs the figure was $11.4bn, Morgan Stanley $10.73bn, JP MorganChase $6.53bn and Merrill Lynch $11.7bn. At Merrill, which was on the point of going bust last month before being taken over by Bank of America, the amount accrued in the last quarter grew 76% to $3.49bn. At Morgan Stanley, the amount put aside for staff compensation also grew in the last quarter to the end of September by 3% to $3.7bn.

Wall Street is out of control and no one is stopping them. Not investors. Not Congress. And certainly not U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson or Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

The disparity between the rich and the rest of America just gets grows larger and larger. On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported $70.3 million will be direct deposited into the coffers of Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sach’s CEO. Because under the bailout plan of his former boss, Treasury Secretary Paulson, that level of compensation is A-OK.

And despite the tough real estate market, where property values for most Americans have dropped considerably, Jon Winkelried, the co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs apparently has had no trouble selling 5.9 acres on Nantucket for $55 million in a private, “anonymous” sale. “Winkelried… earned $53.1 million in 2006 and is listed eighth out of the 25 highest paid men in the country by Fortune Magazine”.

What kind of games are Paulson and Bernanke playing? According to “Drama Behind a $250 Billion Banking Deal” in the NY Times, Paulson is forcing the bailout on banks that do not even need the money.

The chief executives of the nine largest banks in the United States trooped into a gilded conference room at the Treasury Department at 3 p.m. Monday. To their astonishment, they were each handed a one-page document that said they agreed to sell shares to the government, then Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said they must sign it before they left…

The chairman of Wells Fargo, Richard M. Kovacevich, protested strongly that, unlike his New York rivals, his bank was not in trouble because of investments in exotic mortgages, and did not need a bailout, according to people briefed on the meeting…

Mr. Paulson, according to his own account, presented his case in blunt terms. The nation’s largest banks needed to begin lending to each other for the good of the financial system, he said in a telephone interview, recalling his remarks. To do that, they needed to be better capitalized.

But one problem with Paulson’s plan is he gave the banks the bailout money, but didn’t stipulate that they have to start lending. And so the banks are just sitting on the cash. According to Marketplace, on American public radio, all this Unused cash is piling up at the Fed.

The banks are not lending and hundreds of billions of dollars in cash are now at the Federal Reserve. The reserve balances “have hit historic highs in the past few weeks” and have “gotten even bigger” from the bailout.

A record $265 billion is now at the Fed in reserve accounts and the Fed is paying interest on those deposits. That’s right Congress borrows $700 billion and the U.S. Treasury hands over $125 billion to the banks. Roughly half of what is sitting in the reserve accounts that’s earning interest is the money used to thaw the financial markets. The Fed gave away the money to the private banks, which turn around and deposit it back in the Federal Reserve, and now the Fed is paying interest on the bailout money since it is parked there in reserve accounts.

This is unlikely to change any time soon. The Banks are likely to hold tight to the bailout money, according to the NY Times.

On Monday, Mr. Paulson unveiled plans to provide $125 billion to nine banks on terms that were more favorable than they would have received in the marketplace. The government, however, has offered no written requirements about how or when the banks must use the money.

“There is no express statutory requirement that says you must make this amount of loans,” said John C. Dugan, the comptroller of the currency. “But the economics work so that it is in their interest to do so.”

Right. The economics of capitalism no longer work. Back to the story in The Guardian, the reason why people like me don’t understand why paying one tenth of the bailout to Wall Street pay and bonuses isn’t fair is because it just seems like a lot of money to a person like me.

Behind the scenes, one source said: “For a normal person the salaries are very high and the bonuses seem even higher. But in this world you get a top bonus for top performance, a medium bonus for mediocre performance and a much smaller bonus if you don’t do so well.”

Wall Street realizes how bad this appears to “normal” people, but they just can’t stop themselves… at least until this year’s bonuses are paid.

One banking source said: “That’s a fair enough question – and it may well be that by the end of the year the banks start review the situation.”

Fail. The problem is NOT “normal” people. The problem is Wall Street. The ungodly pay and bonuses must stop now in 2008, not next year. Stop looting my country. It is long past time, as Barack Obama said, to “spread the wealth around“.


Cross-posted from the Daily Kos.



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    • Magnifico on October 18, 2008 at 6:43 am

    We’re all Americans in this together, right?

  1. What kind of games are Paulson and Bernanke playing? According to “Drama Behind a $250 Billion Banking Deal” in the NY Times, Paulson is forcing the bailout on banks that do not even need the money.

    By making blanket disbursements to all of the major banks, Paulson avoids having to identify which specific banks are in trouble (as if we don’t already know).

    It’s all part of Treasury’s blatant plan to obscure the real balance sheets of the distressed players in order to hide from the markets and the taxpayers just how much this bailout is actually going to cost all of us in the end.

    Wells Fargo was not happy because it was prudent enough to mostly avoid the sub-prime/derivative ponzi schemes, and was looking to expand its customer base by absorbing new accounts from failed institutions like Wamu, etc.

    Now, with Congress and the Treasury stepping in to bail out financial institutions that by all rights deserved to go belly up, Wells not only loses a lot of its potential gain in market share, but, by taking bailout money it doesn’t want, Wells is forced into participating in Paulson’s  scheme to cover up the losses of its competitors.

    Just another example of how messed up this bailout really is: the banks who played fast and loose get saved while the banks that played by the rules get screwed.

    • Edger on October 18, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    which party rammed this bill though the house and senate?

  2. If it were a play by Peter (Marat/Sade) Weiss, the title would probably be something like The Complete Collapse and Abdication of Adult Responsibility by Everyone in Public Office, Elective or Appointive, in the United States During the George W. Bush Regime, or Collapse/Bush for short.

    Of course, there have been a few–a very few–public Americans who have not abdicated their responsibilities, such as Congressmen Kucinich and Wexler and perhaps some of the executives and board members of a bank like Wells Fargo.  But the rarity of the exceptions supports the generalization.

  3. is the combined net drag on the deficit cost of the renewable energy provisions sneakily surgically attached in the Senate by clever Max Baucus

  4. for the position of Judge Dredd.


    Having the psychic ability to see the dripping Satanic black ooze coming from a stack of Newsweek magazines in the lobby of a corpo-world oriented parasitic company taking out scumbag parasites would be no problem for me.

  5. But my friend, Santiago, had a great idea to end the fiscal crisis. He says we should give $1m to every adult American with the stipulation that they pay off their mortgages, taxes and insurance first. The mortgage crisis would end and everyone would still have $200 or $300K left. BEst thing: it would only cost $200m.

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