Just in case anyone is wondering why American voters are incensed about the Big Bailout plan, here's what Wall St bankers have been paid in recent years to right all these toxic loans that the US taxpayer is having to buy. Wall Street's five biggest firms paid more than US$3 billion in the last five years to their top executives, while they presided over the packaging and sale of loans that helped bring down the investment-banking system, Bloomberg reported today.
Wall Street firms have shared profits liberally with employees. The five biggest -- Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Merrill, Lehman, and Bear Stearns -- paid their 185,687 employees US$66 billion in 2007, as problems with subprime mortgages mounted, including about US$39 billion in bonuses. That amounts to average pay of US$353,089 per employee, including an average bonus of US$211,849. The five firms had combined net income of US$93 billion during the five years through 2007. The US$3.1 billion paid to the top five executives at the firms between 2003 and 2007 was about three times what JPMorgan spent to buy Bear Stearns. Goldman Sachs had the highest total, with US$859 million, followed by Bear Stearns at US$609 million. CEO pay at the five firms increased each year, doubling to US$253 million in 2007, according to data compiled from company filings.Now I understand why American voters are furious. I have my doubts about how easily this bailout plan agreed by congressional leaders will pass congress when the rank and file get their hands on it.