The holidays have passed, but Christmas actually arrives in late January on Wall Street, when the brave men and women of American finance receive their enormous bonus checks. When confronted with a gigantic bag stuffed with American tax dollars, most people would probably find their mind turning to questions like "does that yacht come in blue?" or "is that the biggest Rolex you have?"— but not the lords of Wall Street. They've got a bigger problem: how to make these bonuses seem perfectly normal and not at all a major scandal to the American people.
The Times isn't sure whether the bonuses will just be really big or super giganormously absurd, but in any case they'll be a lot more than the rest of us
suckers Americans will ever make in one year: "Goldman Sachs is expected to pay its employees an average of about $595,000 apiece for 2009, one of the most profitable years in its 141-year history. Workers in the investment bank of JPMorgan Chase stand to collect about $463,000 on average." The sheer bigness of these numbers has got some bankers worried that those nosy-busybodies from Washington might start asking uncomfortable questions, or maybe even clawing back some of their winnings through a special tax. Britain has put that kind of tax in place- raising more than $10 billion dollars this year.
And what's worse, some experts even have the temerity to ask if Wall Street has really learned anything from the tribulations of the last year: "There is nothing I’ve seen that gives me the slightest feeling that these people have learned anything from the crisis. They just don’t get it. They are off in a different world"— and that's coming from John Reed, one of the founders of Citigroup. And he's not the only one who's upset: some of the pesky bank shareholders have begun to ask whether finance industry is a heads-we-win-tails-you-lose kind of system.
But let's be honest: Wall Street has nothing to worry about. We'll be writing this exact same post twelve months from now— and there's not a damn thing any of us can do about it.