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By Jonah Raskin

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Bankers Took Home Billions While Wall Street Burned

Posted on Jan 29, 2009
Flickr / treehouse1977

If you’re in a good mood, you may just want to skip this bit of news from The New York Times: “Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.”

No word yet on whether that money came from the taxpayers, but get your pitchforks ready just in case.

What does a banker have to do to not earn a bonus?

Update: The president isn’t happy:

New York Times:

By almost any measure, 2008 was a complete disaster for Wall Street — except, that is, when the bonuses arrived.

Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

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By michael roloff, January 30, 2009 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I see no reason that they ought not to have taken those bonuses. After all, they conspired, successfully, to get themselves bailed out, shouldn’t that be rewarded all around, shouldn’t the masters of the universe at least share amongst each other?

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By samosamo, January 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm Link to this comment

By Ed Harges, January 30 at 12:13 pm

Welcome to the world of central banking. Those treasonous rats back in the early 1910s finally sneaked a bill through congress right at christmas time with the few remaining members of congress that would vote for it and did and sent it on to woody woodrow wilson who signed into law creating the american central banking PRIVATE corporation which our founding fathers worked hard as hell to prevent and actually shut down and ran them out of the USA those few that tried to set up business here. Woody’s reward, of course, the presidency. Now for some damn strange reason our congress cannot overturn the federal reserve act of 1910 or 1913 whatever year it was passed because you can bet you last dollars that the elite who are the owners or heads of the federal reserve are busy as hell making sure their lobbyists ‘pay’ for that fed reserve act NOT to be overturned. Our current economic crisis will be a whole lot easier to deal with IF obama and congress overturned this traitorous act and gave the control of money back to the department of the treasury because retaining this samosamo goddamn federal reserve system is designed to produce nothing but debt for this country(every dollar of every bailout or stimulus package is money borrowed from the federal reserve AT interest). The USA is nothing but a money sink hole for the elite that control and run the fed.
So, why won’t everybody call, write or visit their favorite congressionals and demand the federal reserve act be over turned. Go ask all those South American countries that had milton friedman’s ‘unfettered free market’ shoved down their throats and their economic systems controlled by central bankers how well they fared. If I am not mistaken, they kicked the World Bank, the IMF and other central banks out and are just now gaining control of healthier economies.

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By Eric L. Prentis, January 30, 2009 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Wall Street pays itself bonuses of at least $18.4 billion dollars, and perhaps much more after stock options are included, after losing hundreds of billions of dollars in 2008. If not bailed out by Congress, all of these Wall Street banks would now be bankrupt and could not pay any bonuses, lobbyists, dividends, for airplanes or for corporate retreats. No more TARP funds for these selfish crooks who only line their own pockets with taxpayer money and do nothing to help the US economy. Lets make the bankrupt bank directors, senior managers, stock holders and debt holders pay for their folly rather than treating the taxpayers like a fools. President Obama, please fire Geithner/Summers/Bernanke, they are only lackeys for the self-entitled, corrupt banking industry.

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By Ed Harges, January 30, 2009 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

OK, everybody’s maxed out on debt. They can’t buy stuff, because all their money goes to paying off the debt and interest. So the government’s solution is to borrow a bunch of money for the Chinese and give it to the banks, so that they can lend it to these same people who are already maxed out on debt, making them even more indebted?

As one economist put it: “So why is the solution to this debt overhead held to be yet MORE debt? Is there not something crazy here?”

Wouldn’t it be more efficient for the government simply to guarantee or pay the existing debt directly, and pass a law forbidding bonuses?

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By Brian, January 30, 2009 at 10:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

On another note I don’t know why everyone is acting so shocked now about bonuses. A major copier company I worked for over 24 years slashed jobs, stopped pay raises and overtime pay, even though we continued to work the extra hours. All the while the upper manangement continued their bonuses. The year they almost went bankrupt the CEO took a $1 million dollar bonus plus stock options.
This is not a new concept. Did our government actually think the management would stop handing out bonuses just because their company was not showing a profit? Hasn’t stopped them for years. A company can do well or poorly and upper management will still take their bonus.

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By Brian, January 30, 2009 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Did anyone catch Rudy Giuliani saying that to cut back on the fat cat bonuses would actually cause unemployment in NYC? He feels their bonuses are spent at restaurants and shops.

The problem is not so much the size of the bonus…well yes it is but that is a different topic…the problem is asking taxpayers to bail out their company and THEN they take a bonus.

Okay Rudy, let them keep their bonus they just have to figure out how to get the money on their own and not come to Americans asking them to pay their bonus. Let them tell their employees once again there isn’t money for raises, research or to buy equipment and they can once again use that money for their huge bonuses.

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By troublesum, January 29, 2009 at 10:49 pm Link to this comment

So the secretary of the treasury who doesn’t pay his taxes and gets away with it, is going to get tuff with his buddies on wall street who give themselves billion dollar bonuses?  Just how stupid do you think we are Mr Obama?  You’re no better than the gangsters who just left.

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By samosamo, January 29, 2009 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment

By Nelson Robison, January 29 at 5:00 pm

I hear ya! But don’t exclude those whose responsibility it was to keep an eye on just what they never kept an eye on, our elected fecal matter. I doubt between the senate and the house that there isn’t more than 2 dozen congressionals that deserve to remain in office and that just about comes back around to the people who until just about 2 and half months ago had a chance to change that. And still no evidence that the lobbyist will have the door slammed in their face, shoot, if it was me every last one of them would be in custody with no bail awaiting trial for treason and bribery. And the congressionals, they are just f**k boys of the corporations and that makes it easy to keep them licking for more. Every day I hope obama will start some kind of action to get some real work for the people done but all I have seen as my previous comment here is to call all them poor ole wall street criminals ‘shameful’.

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By photoshock, January 29, 2009 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

When the Titanic sank, rich men dressed as women to escape the sinking ship.
This is truly an apt analogy, the rich men and women of Wall Street are now masquerading as poor people, saying “We don’t have enough money to help the economy, so we don’t have to pay taxes.” What a load of Bull-Shit!
I have seen the wealth of Palm Beach, the uber-wealth of Jupiter Island, tell me that these people don’t have enough to contribute to the common good of all.
The rats are deserting the ship, the economy is going down fast and the CEO’s and executive level pay
scale is ever-increasing while the average worker is losing his/her job. There must be equity within the system now! We will no longer stand for the differences in pay that we have seen in the last 40 years. Differences of sometimes @0-500 between the average worker, if they have a job, and the executive
level pay are completely and totally uncalled for.
Now we have American Multi-national corporations, shopping the worker jobs around the world to the countries that can promise the lowest wages and neglect of benefits and the environment. 
America has become the land of the rich and the home of the poor. There is no longer any middle class, merchant class people who make this country what it used to be.
Time for change, and change starts with the common people, those who have lost their livelihoods and homes to the uber-wealthy robber barons of the banking sector.  Change must come and now!

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By samosamo, January 29, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

Everyone should really love this:

Our new president, the one we fell all over to replace the criminal republican and all of his neocon cabal, has taken a new step in his fixing of our economic disaster, harsh language. Yes, if you read the above link, he thinks those receiving our billions are ‘shameful’. Oh, am I all choked up or what?

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By diamond, January 29, 2009 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Gang raped! That’s good. A perfect description of what Bush and Cheney aided and abetted for their entire term in government because gang rape is a crime and they were criminals. But it’s no use blaming the bankers anymore than you can blame a pig for burying its snout in a trough full of pig swill. There were no rules to stop them. This all started with Reagan and his free market, ‘God is in the market and the devil is in the detail’ nonsense. Bush and Cheney plumbed new depths of irresponsiblity in throwing the rule book out the window and while Reagan destroyed the economy too it was to a lesser extent because some rules were still in place at that stage. Bill Clinton tried to fix Reagan’s mess and created a large surplus but the mess Obama faces is of a whole different order and dimension. It will literally take years to fix and in the meantime there is simply no choice but to keep feeding money to the pigs so that they will keep makin’ bacon. The banks simply cannot be allowed to crash because if you think it’s bad now it will be much worse if the stimulus stops. The problem is that banks have stopped lending money to each other and the stimulus package is to keep the banks lending. If they stop altogether you’ll have more to worry about than whether bankers are pigs or not. On the other hand money can and should be kept flowing in the household economy as well. Everyone knows this works and it should be done, with or without the consent of the authors of the catastrophe - the Republicans led by John Bonehead Boehner who are determined, it seems, to add one more failure of leadership to their CV.

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By squeaky jones, January 29, 2009 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Have you ever wondered why man and womans best friend is not a man or woman; however, man and womans best friend is a dog. If man or woman never existed the whole earth world would be eden. Squeaky.

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By Leefeller, January 29, 2009 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

Making ends meet is quite different for Wall Street compared to main street.  Populist support for some sort of national medical plan may be gathering support as more people lose their jobs?  It seems I heard so often I got mine and I do not want to pay for yours, lets see if the worm has turned.

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By greatdogs, January 29, 2009 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

This type of thing is not just happening with the pigmen bankers.  Last evening on Bloomberg TV, they were talking about in Australia, there is a group spearheaded by a woman that want the Aussie PM to allow Chinese workers to be allowed to come there to mine iron ore. Their rationale is that the Chinese will work for less money and thus Australian ore can be competitively priced in the world market.  Nevermind what happens to the Aussie workers or the country’s economy, just keep going to the lowest common denominator.

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By GW=MCHammered, January 29, 2009 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some know how to respond:

French Workers Strike to Protest Economy
“The government puts money aside,” he said, “but for big banks not for ordinary people.” He believes the government should be doing more to help French citizens who are worried about job security and making ends meet.

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By Shift, January 29, 2009 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

Very steep tax increases on the wealthy makes sense.  Wealthy people do not spend adequately to sustain the economy; therefore, increasing their tax and decreasing the tax on the poor and middle class will help spending and rebalance the economy, all without borrowing from China or printing money. It’s the way to bring common sense back to economics.

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By jenne, January 29, 2009 at 8:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How can you let die, veteran’s of 93 bij the cold wether, in this country of the plentyfull( thiefs)

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By Leefeller, January 29, 2009 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

Actually took the advice and did not read this article, it is apparent what it is about.  You know they should get rid of the bull and bear and use the perfect picture above as the symbol of Wall Street. An apt connotation.

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By hippy pam, January 29, 2009 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

Thnk U Bsh….and all your hand picked re_puke_likin buddies who…with your blessings and assistance…and your insistance on meddling in countries where we have no business being…have bankrupted our treasury and ruined our economy…for your spending of trillions of dollars elsewhere while your own countries citizens do without food,health care,decent education,homes and the basic infrastructure that keeps goods and services moving…For the lies you and your friends perpetrated allowing innocent people to lose their lives…no matter if it was in your war or freezing to death in a home because we can’t pay our electric bill…For the lack of money to fix power lines in mid America after the storm[of course-those could have been fixed sooner had you not squandered our treasury]...For your lack of oversite in the banks where money was invested by good people and lost by your hand picked crew of greedy thieves…For allowing your buddies in big business to move to places without EPA laws/rules in order to make large profits…And for your re_puke_likin buddies continued resistance to the new President and his advisers…WHERE COULD we have been WITHOUT YOU???

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By Verne Arnold, January 29, 2009 at 4:58 am Link to this comment

I had to chuckle when I saw the picture of the pig. As usual, we’re getting the hind tit while the ruling elite get first cabin.

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By ExAm, January 29, 2009 at 4:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even though I lost enough money this year, thank you Banana Republic government, and I don’t have to pay a penny in taxes, I don’t plan on giving those “wig wearing criminal leaders” another dime!

If a couple of million people wrote to their “wig wearing criminal leaders” and declared that; there might be some change in the wind.

What I am seeing is on par with embezzlement, tax fraud, and common theft.  These are all prison offenses.  Or are they only criminal for the sheep?

I decided that, after admitting to this scalping years ago, I would move away until there was some sanity restored.  It looks like I am going to live my life in another country for a whole lot longer!!!

Lets see - Rent is cheaper, food is definitely cheaper (and locally grown), and health care costs my entire family $240/month (adjusted for US dollars), what is a deductable or co-payment?.  This is a bad thing?

So long “wig wearing criminal leaders” - I hope that those souls left behind start showing the pitchforks.

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By troublesum, January 29, 2009 at 3:14 am Link to this comment

Nothing can be done about this because congress goes along with it while promising even more money and the people have been marginalized politically.  The country has been gang raped.

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