October 15th, 2009
11:20 AM GMT
LONDON, England (CNN) - Just over a year ago, the heart of the financial system nearly stopped beating. The collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a massive collapse in confidence, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and an unprecendented response by governments and central banks.
Now given J.P. Morgan's best earnings in two years and the announcement of massive profits at Goldman Sachs, one has to ask: Crisis, what crisis?
Especially if you look at compensation levels. According to the Wall Street Journal, staff at major U.S. banks and securities firms will make as much as $140 billion this year - a record high - more than the previous peak of 2007.
Now there's nothing new about big amounts of money being earned on Wall Street. But given that we the taxpayer funded the bailout of Wall Street, and will be paying for it for generations, it does beg the question about sharing the pain with Main Street.
To be fair to J.P. Morgan Chase, it didn't get caught up in some of the reckless behavior that other big players on Wall Street did.
Goldman Sachs is another extremely well run bank, but has become the poster child for Wall Street's perceived greed, what one writer described as "a giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity."
Its expected bonus pool this year, some $23 billion, hardly seems like a chastened Wall Street. It's a fair target because it was bailed out by government, and that makes it fair game for criticism.
Business may be rebounding smartly for Wall Street but until Main Street's pain is over, Wall Street may want to think twice about paying hefty compensation.
What do you think?
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