Two Takes on the Banks' Comebacks
Both from the New York Times (natch):
"The bank bonus season, that annual rite of big money and bigger egos, begins in earnest this week, and it looks as if it will be one of the largest and most controversial blowouts the industry has ever seen. . . . Industry executives acknowledge that the numbers being tossed around — six-, seven- and even eight-figure sums for some chief executives and top producers — will probably stun the many Americans still hurting from the financial collapse and ensuing Great Recession."
"Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. . . . Without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses."
As Charlotteans, and therefore residents of a city in many ways beholden to big banks, it seems to me that we are trapped in a nose-holding situation. On the one hand, most rational thinkers would agree that it is, at the very least, unsettling to see America’s large banks shelling out mammoth bonuses only months or weeks after paying back billions of dollars to the American government. One could argue that it was those forced government loans that allowed the stock market to rebound, which allowed these large firms to rack up huge trading gains, which is their defense for paying the bonuses. But here, in Charlotte, we need for those bankers to get their big bonuses to help boost our local economy. We need that bonus money flowing to shore up our housing prices and aid our struggling retail sector. And so we hold our noses.