You’ll Be Happy to Know that Wall Street Bonuses Saw Only a Small Decline

Yes, as you struggle to pay rent, and those student loan payments from a state university (ha! loser!) prevent you from ever qualifying for a mortgage, you’ll find some cause for optimisim that the world is not a terrible place when I tell you that Wall Street bonus packages saw only a small decline this year:

Total payouts to finance industry employees in New York are forecast to drop only 14 percent during this bonus season, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli. By comparison, profits plunged, falling 51 percent.

Interesting that while profits saw a sharp decline, bonuses did not; presumably, it’s all that “top talent” that the firms are always talking about–we wouldn’t want to fire anybody responsible for a 50% decline in profits, now would we? That guy knows what he’s doing!

Sadly, that 14% drop translates into real hardship:

The average bonus was $121,150, down just 13 percent from the previous year as the headcount shrunk. In 2006, the year before the financial crisis, the average investment bank employee took home a bonus of $191,360.

But the comptroller’s estimates, which do not include noncash compensation, may not give the full picture of this year’s bonus season.

But it seems as though there’s good news after all! Noncash compensation such as stock options were not tallied in the report! Increasingly, banks are offering stock as an alternative to cash bonuses. This move could work out well if the company performs admirably in the long-term, which is ostensibly the reason for offering the option at all (the other reason is that Morgan Stanley caps their bonuses at $125,000).

So, America, the next time you seethe with populist rage, just remember that Wall Street is making sacrifices, too. It’s hard to to get away with killing homeless prostitutes when your bonus declines by 14%.

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