This demonstrates again that Wall St. has not learned it's lesson and don't give a damn about public opinion or the state of the economy. It also demonstrates that the U.S. government is nothing but a tool of the big banks and financiers:
The rest of the nation may be getting back to basics, but on Wall Street, paychecks still come with a golden promise.
Workers at the largest financial institutions are on track to earn as much money this year as they did before the financial crisis began, because of the strong start of the year for bank profits.
Even as the industry’s compensation has been put in the spotlight for being so high at a time when many banks have received taxpayer help, six of the biggest banks set aside over $36 billion in the first quarter to pay their employees, according to a review of financial statements.
If that pace continues all year, the money set aside for compensation suggests that workers at many banks will see their pay — much of it in bonuses — recover from the lows of last year.
“I just haven’t seen huge changes in the way people are talking about compensation,” said Sandy Gross, managing partner of Pinetum Partners, a financial recruiting firm. “Wall Street is being realistic. You have to retain your human capital.”
Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, was more critical. “Like everything on Wall Street, they’re starting to sin again,” he said. “As you see a recovery, you’ll see everybody’s compensation beginning to rise.”
In total, the banks are not necessarily spending more on compensation, because their work forces have shrunk sharply in the last 18 months. Still, the average pay for those who remain — rank-and-file workers whose earnings are not affected by government-imposed limits — appears to be rebounding.
Of the large banks receiving federal help, Goldman Sachs stands out for setting aside the most per person for compensation. The bank, which nearly halved its compensation last year, set aside $4.7 billion for worker pay in the quarter. If that level continues all year, it would add up to average pay of $569,220 per worker — almost as much as the pay in 2007, a record year.
[...]Compensation is among the most cited causes of the financial crisis because bonuses were often tied to short-term gains, even if those gains disappeared later on. Still, as profits return, banks do not appear to be changing the absolute level of worker pay — or the share of revenue dedicated to compensation.
Historically, investment banks have paid workers about 50 cents for every dollar of revenue. The average is lower at commercial banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, because they employ more people in retail branches where pay is lower.
But every dollar paid to workers is a dollar that cannot be used to expand the business or increase lending. Some of that revenue, too, could be used by bailed-out banks to pay back taxpayers.
Wall Street, of course, has a long history of high wages. Not all that long ago, most investment banks were private partnerships, and the workers were also typically the owners. Even when those firms began listing their shares on public stock exchanges, a standard was set in which half of their revenue was paid out to workers.