The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Wall Street Mocks America; Compensation Estimates Highlight Need for Reforms

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen


Note: U.S. banks and securities firms are on track to pay a
record $140 billion in compensation to staff - more than at the peak of
2007, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis.

Wall Street is mocking us. The giant Wall Street firms likely would
be out of business had taxpayers not provided trillions of dollars in
bailout money and supports. Now, within a year of these unfathomable bailouts, Wall Street has the gall to siphon off record sums in
salary and bonuses. As troubling as the scale and audacity of these
payments may be, what is most appalling is that they are, in large
measure, the result of Wall Street resuming exactly the same
speculative gambling and consumer rip-off strategies that crashed the
financial system in the first place.

The obscene Wall Street payments should shake Congress out of its
lethargy and drive it to adopt strong financial regulatory rules. These
should include a Consumer Financial Regulatory Agency empowered to
crack down on consumer rip-offs; tough limits on bonus payments
(including a requirement that bonus payments be based on long-term performance,
to remove the incentive for dangerous, short-term betting); and
meaningful controls and restrictions on the trade in derivatives and
other exotic financial instruments.

Today, the House Financial Services Committee is considering
legislation related to the derivatives market. Unfortunately, the
legislation being considered will do almost nothing to curb the
speculative frenzy on Wall Street.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

(202) 588-1000