Opinion Brief

Wall Street's record bonuses: How outrageous are they?

America's biggest banks are handing out a record $144 billion in bonuses this year, despite the still shaky economy

Just two years after the global financial crisis that threatened to destroy the banking industry, Wall Street bonuses have hit a record high. According to The Wall Street Journal, employees at America's biggest banks are set to reward themselves with $144 billion in compensation and benefits this year — a 4 percent increase over last year's record haul. The hefty bonuses come as many industries continue to struggle in the face of difficult economic conditions and the jobless rate holds steady at 9.6 percent. Has Wall Street overstepped yet again? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about the record bonuses)

Wall Street spends while America burns: Main Street folks will be outraged by this, says Jill Schlesinger at CBS Moneywatch, and rightly so. "Banks who survived the financial crisis due to taxpayer largess" are thriving, while the taxpayers themselves continue to struggle with the impact of the recession. The president "wimped out" when it came to reining these banks in. Now, shareholders must do the decent thing and "push for real reform."
"Wall Street pay: where's the shareholder rage?"

Big banks must pay out to remain successful: Large banks need "top talent to stay with them," says Cheryl Casone at Fox Business, and that means big bonuses. Besides, it's not as if Wall Street isn't working hard. Thanks to the financial sector, the Dow Jones industrial average has recovered and is flying high. "Hate the idea of fat cats on Wall Street all you want, but take a look at your portfolio before you pass judgement."
"Wall Street bonuses not the enemy"

Nothing will ever change on Wall Street: Profit-wise, "this year has been a dud" for Wall Street, says Stephen Gandel at Time. Even that hasn't dented these big bank payouts. But then, if "the fall of two storied investment firms, a financial crisis, a bailout, Andrew Cuomo, a pay czar, the Great Recession and regulatory reform" can't bring down bankers' pay, what can?
"Wall Street deja vu: Lackluster profits equal... record bonuses"

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