While the American middle class is all but dead thanks in part the the 2008 financial crisis and stagnant wages, the banksters are living it up. According to a report from the New York Comptroller, Wall Street compensation is soaring with the average bonus in 2014 coming out to be $172,860 – the highest since the Wall Street-created financial crisis.

Yes, the average bonus for people performing socially useless activity is higher than the average American’s total income which is around $28,000. What a country.

The numbers are not surprising given that our economic system has been rigged in favor of Wall Street. With the bank bailouts and the Federal Reserve’s secret loans and low interest rates it would be nearly impossible for financial service firms not to be profitable. It has little to nothing to do with merit and everything to do with rewarding politically connected elites engaging in crony capitalism.

The bonus pool for securities industry employees who work in New York City grew by 3 percent during the traditional December-March bonus season to reach $28.5 billion for 2014. The Comptroller’s estimates includes cash bonuses for the current year and bonuses deferred from prior years that have been cashed in. The current budgets for New York State and New York City both assume a small increase in bonuses, consistent with DiNapoli’s forecast.  

The average bonus rose by 2 percent to $172,860 in 2014, the highest level since the financial crisis. The growth in the average bonus was much stronger in the two previous years when bonuses increased by a total of 52 percent. The increase in the average bonus in 2014 was a bit smaller than the increase in the bonus pool (3 percent) because the pool was shared among a larger number of employees than in the prior year.

It is boom times again on Wall Street. The only lag on the money machine according to the report are the massive fines the Wall Street firms are paying for their criminal conduct. Wall Street does not separate out its legal costs from its other costs but the report makes it clear the legal settlements took some funds away from profits noting that “Non-compensation expenses, which include the cost of legal settlements, increased from an annual average of about $40 billion during the eight years prior to the financial crisis to $61 billion in 2013 and remained at an elevated level in 2014 ($62.8 billion).”

So there you have it, after they created a crisis with their crimes and paid some small fines Wall Street is back in the black. Leave it to the 99% to toil for flat wages used to pay off onerous debts, the 1% ruling class can profit off the privileges gained from buying the government.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.