Just a day after the National Association of Business Economists lowered its forecast for US economic growth across the entire economy, the nation’s leading business newspaper reveals that traders on Wall Street are still riding high.
While the US unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.6 percent, pay on Wall Street is likely to rise another 4 percent.
To what? $144 billion, according to an estimate by the (paid restricted) Wall Street Journal published Tuesday.
The Journal‘s estimate is based on only some of the houses on Wall Street — those that are large and publicly traded, and include banks, investment banks, hedge funds, money management firms and securities exchanges.
“Compensation was expected to rise at 26 of the 35 firms,” the paper’s reporters wrote, with the total payouts leaping to $144 billion, “a 4% increase from the $139 billion paid out in 2009.”
The left’s bête noire, Goldman Sachs, is expected to see a sizable revenue decline ($39.1 billion from $45.2 billion) but is still projected to increase staff payouts by 3.7 percent, the Journal says. Goldman’s new compensation total? $16.8 billion.
The first person quoted by the paper slammed the pay packages.
“Until focus of these institutions changes from revenue generation to long-term shareholder value, we will see these outrageous pay packages and compensation levels,” Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance, told the reporters.
Remark the trio of Journal scribes, “The pay numbers show that firms, benefiting from low interest rates and strong international markets, continue to base their pay on economic and market conditions rather than the level of pressure coming from regulators in Washington and overseas.”
Not all companies will see their overall compensation levels rise.
Citigroup, for example, is expected to reduce staff payouts by 8 percent.
“At Citigroup Inc., which remains about 12%-owned by the government, analysts projected revenue would increase this year by about 4%,” the paper says. “But pay for the banking giant is likely to be down about 8%, according to projections in the Journal survey.”
“The opposite is true at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp., where analysts project revenue will be down, but compensation will be up,” they add.
Projected growth in the economy as a whole continues to be bleak. The National Association of Business Economists’ Survey, released Monday, said that “real gross domestic product (GDP) is now expected to advance 2.6 percent in 2010, down from the panel’s May prediction of 3.2 percent. … [M]ost of the markdown reflects worse-than-expected summer results and a dimmed outlook.”
“Holiday retail sales are expected to be especially weak, rising only 2.5 percent from last year,” they add.