After Off Year, Wall Street Pay Is Bouncing Back
By LOUISE STORY
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.
“We need to be able to pay our people,” said Lucas van Praag, a spokesman for Goldman, adding that the rest of the year might not prove as profitable, and so the first-quarter reserves might simply be “sensible husbandry.”
Or, it might just be outrageous excess, depending upon one’s view.