Wall Street's big three 'set to pay $30bn in bonuses'

10 November 2009

Three of Wall Street's biggest firms, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Chase and JPMorgan Chase, will be paying out bonuses worth close to $30 billion this year, according to analysts' estimates.

The three companies, who have all left the Troubled Asset Relief Program, are expected to be paying out a collective $29.7 billion to their employees, a 60 per cent increase on figures for 2008.

Almost 120,000 people are employed by the companies, so the average payout will be more than $250,000.

Bloomberg analysts believe that cash payments will be deferred in favor of stock options as the Wall Street giants come under regulatory pressure to match bonus pay more closely to performance.

But the likes of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are still likely to face a public outcry over the reported figures.

Paul Hodgson, a senior research associate on compensation at the Corporate Library, told Bloomberg: "It doesn't seem as if even political threat, disastrous PR, envy, rising unemployment rates and home repossessions is enough to get any of these people to refuse the bonuses they have 'earned'."

Goldman Sachs will reportedly pay out $21.9 billion in bonuses after a record-breaking year, with Morgan Stanley handing out more than $15 billion.

And JPMorgan Chase is preparing to pay out $12 billion to its investment bankers, according to estimates.

Compensation consultancy Johnson Associates has recently predicted that average bonuses on Wall Street are going to rise by 40 per cent this year, with those working in recovering sectors such as equities in line for a 60 per cent increase in the size of their bonus payouts.

Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein claimed that bankers were doing "God's work."

"We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth," he told the Sunday Times.

"This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. We have a social purpose."

By Asim Shah

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