Bailed Out Bank Execs Make Big Money

Bailed Out Bank Execs Make Big Money December 22, 2008

The Associated Press did a review of financial records and found that 116 banks that have received bailout money from the TARP fund paid huge salaries to their top executives last year even while declaring themselves poor and on the verge of collapse.

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.

Some highlights, like the CEO of Goldman Sachs, which has so far received $10 billion in taxpayer dollars this year:

Lloyd Blankfein, president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, took home nearly $54 million in compensation last year. The company’s top five executives received a total of $242 million.

This year, Goldman will forgo cash and stock bonuses for its seven top-paid executives. They will work for their base salaries of $600,000, the company said. Facing increasing concern by its own shareholders on executive payments, the company described its pay plan last spring as essential to retain and motivate executives “whose efforts and judgments are vital to our continued success, by setting their compensation at appropriate and competitive levels.”

You mean you couldn’t find someone who would bankrupt the company for only, say, $10 million? Hell, I’d run the company into the ground for a mere $500,000. Just ask me. Where exactly are those “efforts and judgments” that were “vital to their continued success” while they were failing? And is it just a coincidence that the man who put the bailout plan together used to hold the same position Blankfein now does and got paid similar amounts of money?

John A. Thain, chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch, topped all corporate bank bosses with $83 million in earnings last year. Thain, a former chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs, took the reins of the company in December 2007, avoiding the blame for a year in which Merrill lost $7.8 billion. Since he began work late in the year, he earned $57,692 in salary, a $15 million signing bonus and an additional $68 million in stock options.

Merrill Lynch also got $10 billion in taxpayer money. Hell, give me a million bucks and I’ll ruin both companies at once. Really, it’s no trouble.

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