In 2006: $62 billion in bonuses for Wall Street

Excerpt from
Egan, Timothy. 2008. “Crash.” The New York Times, September 24.

“But the larger lesson is how Wall Street brought down Main Street. Banks were largely unregulated then, free to gamble people’s savings on stock market long-shots. When the market collapsed, the uninsured deposits went with it. By the end of 1932, one fourth of all banks were shuttered, and 9 million people lost their savings.

In this century, thanks to the deregulatory demons released by former McCain adviser Phil Gramm and embraced by just enough lobbyist-greased Democrats, Wall Street was greenlighted again to act like a casino. Banks in the heartland passed on their mortgages to Wall Street, where they were sliced and diced in hundreds of largely incomprehensible ways. And while few people understand how those investment giants made money, this much is clear: it was a killing. In 2006 alone, Wall Street firms paid out $62 billion in bonuses.”

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