HIGHTOWER: Wall Street's Bonus Babies

While children have visions of sugar plums dancing through their heads at this time of year, Wall Street's big brokers have visions of something much sweeter: Bonuses!Top executives at Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and all the other high-rolling Wall Street firms pull down about $200,000-$500,000 a year in salaries, which ain't bad. But the real gravy is ladled out to them in end-of-the-year bonuses, and this year's holiday bonanza is the richest in history, with Wall Street's brokerage houses and banks serving up billions of dollars to those at the top.The 190 partners on the top floor of Goldman Sachs, for example, are getting a minimum of $4 million each in bonus money, with a few grabbing as much as $25 million. Life on Goldman Sach's second managerial tier is pretty rich, too, with 215 managing directors averaging bonuses of a million and a half bucks apiece. Likewise down the street at Bear Stearns, the two top guys took care of themselves by bestowing bonuses of more than $20 million on each other.What exactly do these high-paid geniuses actually do to warrant such astonishing enrichment? They're stock hucksters, touts, gamblers and flim-flammers. They shovel capital into corporate takeovers, foreign speculation and other ventures that, this very year, have produced such results as massive job losses for ordinary workers and massive taxpayer bailouts for their failed investments in Asia. Their bonuses, you see, are not tied to whether or not any of their gambles actually pay-off or produce anything worthwhile, but simply on how much money they move through the firm.This is Jim Hightower saying ... These guys get theirs even when they make a mess. It's the same old story of those in charge treating our economy like they're the top dogs ... and us workers and taxpayers are just a bunch of fire hydrants.Source:"Another year, another bundle" by Peter Truell. New York Times: Dec. 8, 1997.

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