Journalism in the Public Interest

Crisis? What Crisis? Average Bank Pay Kept Rising at the Same Rate

A number of reports on executive pay are out this week, including one on how bank pay seems to have been immune to the recession and unaffected by the bailouts.

According to report yesterday in American Banker, even while the economy took a beating and unemployment soared, average pay in the banking industry continued rising at the same rate as it had before the financial crisis:

The clear trend, in both nominal and absolute terms, is up: Over the last eight years, average compensation for a full-time bank employee has risen 35% to $83,050, twice the rate of inflation. In 2003, the banking industry's 1.3 million full-time employees took home $78.3 billion. In 2010, its 2.1 million employees took home $168.1 billion.

In the first half of that period, raises were to be expected given climbing industry profitability and bank equity's market gains. But the financial crisis appears to have had little impact on pay. Total compensation per full-time employee rose at the same pace from 2007 to 2010 as it did from 2004 to 2007. In the later time period, profitability plunged and the KBW bank index fell by more than 50%.

Keep in mind that the point here is the trend, not the actual average. The figure mixes the modest wages of bank tellers with the big bonuses for top execs and investment bankers. The New York Times noted last year that within investment banks, average pay was solidly in the six figures.

CEOs, of course, are still pulling in millions. Bank of America made headlines this week for what seemed to be a cut to CEO Brian Moynihan’s compensation. But the $1.94 million he’s reported to have taken home in 2010 doesn’t include the more than $9 million in deferred compensation that he’s due to receive this year.

The high pay isn’t limited to Wall Street bankers. A government watchdog report released yesterday [PDF] noted that the now government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac paid their CEOs a total of $17 million in 2009 and 2010. The report faulted regulators for failing to scrutinize the mortgage giants’ lavish compensation.

The Wall Street Journal also reported this week that several Wall Street firms are backing a proposal to give shareholders an annual vote on compensation, though such votes are mostly symbolic. And then there’s the matter of the corporate boards that actually set compensation: The SEC is working on finalizing rules that would require disclosure of conflicts of interest for board members and compensation consultants.

The Federal Reserve and other regulators have also proposed a rule that would require top execs at big Wall Street banks to have some compensation deferred. The idea is to rein in the incentive to take risks.

Well…I am sure that they deserve something…but not a raise

Barry Schmittou

April 1, 2011, 4:01 p.m.

America’s CEO’s seem to have no conscience !!

For example please view the evidence seen at :

You’ll see Judges’ quotes that prove MetLife and other insurance companies doctors’ are ignoring brain lesions, Multiple Sclerosis, cancer and cardiac conditions of many patients !!

150 million Americans who receive health benefits through their job are at great risk if they file a claim !!

If you also go to the following website you will see how the evidence mentioned above is bullet point one of five different types of insurance where the same deadly crimes are being committed by multiple insurance companies !!

God please help something happen to stop the proven fact that numerous insurance company doctors’ are ignoring life threatening medical conditions !!

I was being ironic and facetious with my comment…
“deserve something”

James B Storer

April 1, 2011, 6:23 p.m.

Dan (comment above).  That was an absolutely wonderful comment.  Made my day.  Thanks.
Barry Schmitto, thanks you for your comment.  You seem to expend tremendous energy and ability enlightening us in addressing the flagrant injuries we endure.  Good sites you listed above.  —-Skartishu, Grandy MO

Obscene wealth and wealth disparity is, of course important.  But it remains symbolic chump change and distraction compared to the trillions that have been looted from us and delivered into the pockets of people we will never see or know; of the hundreds of billions that are ripped of in unpaid taxes and tax-loopholes by American corporations; and, in the deficit which has emptied the cupboards of future generations.  We are, As Margaret Mead pointed out, some time ago, the first generation in history that has eaten its own children.  Vent if it helps, but let’s not get distracted by small time crooks who got away with a few millions, while the back door to the vault remains wide open.

re: red sliders comments

and you are referring to who specifically?
besides the banks’ ceos and the banks’ boards?

If one of these are imprisoned for life for their malfeasance I would wager
there would be an imminent sea change in behavior

dan,  I don’t agree at all. The power elite, the agent of the machinery of power, has no qualms about sacrificing one of its own - don’t give it a thought when ruling class members like Bernie Madhoff,  or Leonie Helmsley or Martha Stewart are tossed on the pile. They’ll defend some corporate CEO’s a little more fiercely, but that’s of no consequence either.  Everyone, labor, management and rulers are expendable, interchangeable units as far as the machinery is concerned.  Just fuel for the engines.  They are replaced as easily as any union member on a picket line.  Life-sentences for a few will just slow things down momentarily, while people lay low a little, and a few laws are sprinkled around (or none, as you can see in the last 12 trillion dollar heist).  Indeed, the people you think are in control aren’t really in control of anything, even though they might believe they are.  Threatening them or getting rid of them means nothing.  We spend a lot of time on those folks - good for venting anger.  But not a target that will change anything.  A good account of this is given in Mumford’s classic, “The myth of the Machine.”  I recommend it.

Steve, I’m not sure who you were ranting at or what you were driving at.  I can say this, that you do not get a raise if you work hard in America. You might, But your owner decides that (especially if you have no union).  You might get a raise if you do a lousy job and fink on somebody else the boss doesn’t like.  You might get one for having big tits.  What you might not get one if your owner decides to send your job to the Philippines or Mexico because its cheaper and they don’t have to concern themselves with polluting the Rio Grande or anything else. So I think you’re raising a flag on a country that doesn’t exist. And, by the way,  The Gulag was a prison system, not a factory.  Indeed, as long as anyone threatens someone else with starvation, loss of the necessities of life and extreme deprivation, then you have slavery, don’t you?  You may not call it that.  You might call it ‘Private ownership’ or ‘go work somewhere else’ or ‘too bad it happens’ or ‘you do your job and…’, but at heart, its a gulag.

These arguments are so entertaining sometimes.

The CEO’s deserve compensation for the work they do, and if they are an asset to the company the raise is expected to reflect that.  The issue here is that they are crying poverty from thier yaults while accepting gov. funds for services they refuse to provide.  Welfare Programs have not recieved raises, although the reciepients are still doing what they don’t do, very well. 

This article, seems to me, is imformation about how corporate immunity makes learning lessons from the past (ie; Wall Street bouses) unnesesary.

Barry Schmittou,

I have a story-from-hell experience with insurance companies myself.  Although I am using my health building period in life to torture other people on the internet, I will take the time to visit your websites. I am very aware that the issues you champion are extremely valid.  I have watched people close to me die, ignorant, and trusting that thier doctors are telling them the whole story. I know that doctors will refrain from educating a patient on possible life-saving treatments that thier insurance companies will not cover.  I have discussed this with medical practitioners and I believe it saddens them, but they choose to remain quiet, for the peace of mind of the individual patient. What a shameful secret they must struggle with as they try to sleep at night.

Oh, yeah, back to you…  Your perseverance could payoff, don’t give up.  Good Health to You!

You folks are so funny!  Wait, oops, are you being serious?

Check out ALEC watch. These are the large corporations funding these right wing reactionary policies. Bank of America, State Farm, Geico, Citibank, big oil, the Koch brothers. See the list and boycott these businesses. Go to a credit union or small local bank. Pull your assets out of these too big to fail banks. The streets and the boycott are all that is left to us. It is obvious they want it all. No Unions, no collective bargaining, no social security, no minimum wage. Citizens United upheld by the fascist supreme court. The list is endless as to the wants of the rich and powerful.

James B Storer

April 2, 2011, 10:59 a.m.

Red Slider, your comment 9:24PM Yesterday is excellent.  The well organized and well written ‘comment’ concisely but fully states and connects the elements of our world.  It brought to mind a verse from Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, “There was a door to which I found no key,-  There was a veil past which I could not see,- Some little talk awhile of thee and me,- There seemed,  And then no more of me and thee.”  If we suppose our efforts challenging corruption, injustice, and inhumanity will ‘lift the veil’ or have any effect whatsoever on the “central power” behind the door, we are mistaken.  We are just little Quixotes jousting with windmills.  If we are realistic, however, we know that our efforts are necessary to maintain the elements of democracy and stability only in our ‘known’ world.
  The numbers involved are so great and, often opaque or artificial that is difficult to theorize about the make-up of power at the top of the mountain.  The top of the mountain may, itself, be a seething volcano.  –Skartishu, Granby MO

James, thank you for your appreciation.  Now, permit me to challenge you a little further. Given that these miscreant individuals (the bosses, the ruling class, even the corporations themselves - they are also interchangeable, expendable units) are not the real targets, only places for us to vent our rage and cheer when one of them gets caught, what is to be done to get at the real targets, the structure, the presence of a new, ruthless species of organization that roams this planet at will and loots and murders without conscience? ( )

  Is it, as Franklin suggested in his famous query, ‘a democracy that we cannot keep (cannot be kept)?  How would you approach the matter of change and the mechanisms that might achieve that?  I know that some suggest that nothing less than violent revolution will achieve that. Mao suggested, in the face of a superior enemy, terrorism (the demonstration that the state cannot protect its citizens) is the only recourse.  But we have seen the history of these movements and it is clear that terrorism is a lunatic exercise (as well as tragic) that does not defeat the state and status quo (the mistake is thinking the state would concede in the face of such ruthlessness - it didn’t take into account that the state has no compunction about being equally ruthless, on its own citizens as well as anyone else.); and, revolutions often end with the revolutionaries looking much like the oppressors - just name changes for the beneficiaries. There are exceptions, of course, but on the whole a bloodbath for everybody.  So what do you surmise is a practical answer?  How do we find and stay on target?  How do we get that democracy and keep it?  (or, perhaps, democracy isn’t the answer?)  Don’t mean to put you on the spot, but I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this.

James B. Storer

Ah, reason returns the the conversation!  The upper-end attitude is that: This is America!  Everyone has a chance here!  If you don’t like the way your life is, change it!  And even: Learn how to play the game, you never going to make it if you don’t toughen up.  Those that topple from the top are mearly joining all the rest of us down here, the masses that are not smart enough, quick enough, and ruthless enough to deserve to be amoung the elite.

What they cannot fathom, I imagine, is why someone would choose to do the morally correct action, when it clearly will not generate personal profit. The fact that the harder choice, the one requiring more strength, usually is the one that generates fewer profits. The motivation for those decisions is what completely baffles them.

I believe that love and money can co-habitate, although a stronger focus on the money will destroy the love.  Money and power are extremely compatable, with power being the more dependent on money.  Love and power are completely opposed because power cannot respect the object of love, it appears too weak.

Money, Power, or Love? Who do we serve? Who do they serve? We all have to decide, eventually.

Unionized Cops who beat thugs are imprisoned.
Dictators who inflict obvious and immediate death and suffering on small populations bring the UN’s full range of deadly and expensive explosives down on their head.
But Bankers who kill entire generations get bonuses paid for by the very people whom they threaten and cause slow, creeping, insidious harm to.
We fight organized crime in Mexico and elsewhere. But the real criminals are on Wall Street and in the Worlds Central banks. Those crooks, we reward.
For me, there is no “blurry” line between criminal enterprise and Banker / moneylender. They are one and the same. Their product is the same. Their methods are the same.
Yet one class we protect and celebrate and the other we fight and imprison. To an impartial outsider, the current dominant species on this planet is full on mad and will clearly not last much longer,but will die of it’s own abuse of itself. The Western industrialized economies reliant on fractional reserve privatized central banks and capitalist structures are committing suicide the same way cancer cells do. Freakish malignant growth.
Do you still think we’re using the right social and economic recipe in the US?

James B Storer

April 3, 2011, 5:07 p.m.

Tee Lee 3Apr 11:13 AM — Briefly, I believe you are saying that various elements are treated unfairly by the law and by society.  Other elements are simply above application of law.  The dividing line is determined by money, power, “connections,” and environment.  If this is your premise I agree, but not with the whole of your comment.  This is a common diatribe by individuals or groups who are simply expressing sour grapes.  Nonetheless, it is true.  I go further, though, and say that these sorts of inequities are not always misapplication of law.
The basis of much of our law incorporates such inequities.  Our founding papers (I omit the Federalist Papers, which I never completed reading because of excessive length and repetition), are an incredible compilation.  The beginning of the nation was principled in many new ways.  Perhaps it is the culmination of the labors of “group genius” – a rare occurrence.  I rate the first five paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence among the greatest, in many ways, in all literature of all time, and it still fetches a tear every time I return to it.  Still, inequity is quite apparent in our Constitution.  Slavery, is accepted full bore in the Constitution.
The brokers of our new government were not saints, being themselves mostly affluent and raised in a “pre-U.S. Democracy” world, but they seemed generally to be imbued with a sense of universal fairness.  Times change, and our Constitution must be read with an open mind.  The founders knew this, and clearly included provision for amendment.  Such action is rarely a good option.  Common sense should prevail.
I made my bed long ago and, believe me, it does not include money or power.  It seems to me that many who decry the “Rich and Powerful” are guilty of envy.  This is a self-destructive attitude. If one hates them so much, why does one envy them?
Working to eliminate gross and painful injustices is, instead, a more profitable way to go.  Is it an effort in total futility?  Are we headed for elimination?  I do not know, but I try to help improve our lot with my limited ability.  Skartishu, Granby, MO

James B Storer

April 4, 2011, 10:02 p.m.

Red Slider 2 Apr 11 comment -  request to ‘challenge me a bit further’ was not read by me until today.  I gladly will add a bit to my comment you are referring to.  I fear it may not help in recovering and retaining our democracy.  I agree that ‘these miscreants –bosses, ruling class, corporations – are false targets on which we vent our frustrations.  They are as expendable as you and I, and are not the real target.  How do we get at the real target?  Perhaps our only possible glimpse of the “power” is reflected in our bathroom mirrors.
In the flush of our youth we buy that you are a real “man” (or woman), when you look a person straight in the eye and master all the other little axioms of maturity.  This universally held course of such maxims is dead wrong (as you commented on the continuous and mostly unsuccessful bloodbaths that spell the history of mankind.)  This attitude marks us singularly unfit to dream that we can be any more successful in attempting to correct the horrible makeup of the great central power.  We must clean our own nest first.
I have come to believe that there are four principles that must guide us before we can claim to be real and mature men and women.
  First, if you are responsible for the welfare of an animal, you attend to the feeding and shelter of the animal first, and then eat your own breakfast.
  Second, you treat your mother (and all mothers) with great respect.
  Third, your character is determined on how you treat a stranger, even though he or she can not possibly have any effect on your life.
  Fourth, live by the old “golden rule,” by doing to others as you wish them to do unto you.  (This may sound like organized religion. but I assure you it is not when coming from me.  I am incurably agnostic.  This saying exists universally).
  Then perhaps, Red, when mankind has converted to those principles, we can begin to think seriously about eradicating the “central power.”  The great unanswered question, to me, is “why do people follow such folks as Mao, Stalin, Hitler, etc.?  I must think on your welcome challenge a bit more, as my comment here is already long.  I will submit a comment with more immediately practical thoughts as to action, and more to the point of your challenge that might be considered. — Skartishu, Granby MO

@James B. Storer-I truly appreciate reading and absorbing your comments. If only others would or could express themselves (especially when disagreeing) in such a manner we might have that world our Founding Fathers envisioned. If you are not an author, you should look into being one. Regret somewhat that you are an incurable agnostic…obviously in your case does not “make you a bad guy”. I have no doubts in those regards. Your thoughts and questions also tend to make one look inward. Thank you!

James B Storer

April 7, 2011, 10:57 a.m.

Roy (comment 2:40am today):
I truly appreciate your gracious compliment.  It has been my plan to write seriously after retiring.  I previously got short stuff published occasionally here and there, but for the purpose of furthering some “cause,” rather than to further a “writing “career.  At age seventy-five I was diagnosed with advanced cancer and given only a few weeks to live.  Fortunately, I am now escaping two-and-a-half years of serious chemo.  This stuff really manipulates your mind and puts it on hold.  I decided to let the doctors worry about the therapy and concentrated upon holding the pieces of my mind together.  I am now a few months out of chemo and am recovering mentally.  I am writing and my interests lie in such things as K12 education, environmental pollution, and the scourge of government enabling of corporate power encroachment.  Due to age and eventual cancer return (it is not curable) I do not intend to write book length things.  It is nice to believe that one’s work is important, but as someone said (I do not recall who), the first sign of insanity is in believing that one’s work is terribly important.  As to my agnostic bent, it is not a matter of choice.  It is a matter of being incapable of accepting organized religion (and after life) with any degree of “faith.”  It would be hypocritical of me to attend church and pretend to pray, although I have utmost respect for the good works by members of organized religions.  Thanks again for your words.  Skartishu, Granby MO

@James B. Storer-My oldest Sister is about to retire from teaching end of elementary education in Florida. Both family and friends are now going through chemo treatments. It is encouraging to know you are most definitely mentally recovered. Your eloquently expressed views are proof. I do wish you well and I will say a prayer for your continued recovery.


My earlier posts sound very inappropriate given the quality of the article and following comments.  I was responding to statements as (lightheartedly as possible) without directly addressing them.  I contacted ProPublica in regards to these very offensive writings and I am happy to find that they have been removed.

Although I realise that I do not always have a full grasp on the subject matter at hand I am learning so much from both the coverage and responses.  The posts that are left (after editing) I do not find “Funny”, but very enlightening. Please do not find offense, as none was intented.

I returned to check on the conversation.  There are some excellent statements, the exact thing that I value @ ProPublica.

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